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Why’s My WiFi Not Working

There’s nothing more frustrating than opening a web browser, entering a URL, and waiting endlessly for the page to load, only to be greeted by the dreaded internet connection error message. When this happens, many people contact their internet service provider and just sit back until a technician comes over and diagnoses the problem, which may take several days.
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However, there’s no reason to wait for such a long time to get your WiFi working again because you can fix most WiFi and router issues yourself and without any expert knowledge. In this article, we describe several common symptoms that you may experience with a WiFi network that’s not working correctly, and we provide a possible reason and solution for each.

The Universal WiFi Fix

Before we go any further, we need to introduce you to the so-called universal WiFi fix:

  • Step 1: Disconnect your WiFi router from power.
  • Step 2: Wait around 30 seconds.
  • Step 3: Plug it back in and test if your WiFi is not working.

With this simple fix, it’s possible to solve far more WiFi issues than you might expect. By waiting around 30 seconds after disconnecting your router from power, you give it enough time to dispose of all residual power stored inside capacitors, which are essentially small batteries that can keep the router’s CPU and memory ticking for some time.

As effective as the universal WiFi fix is, it won’t help you solve all WiFi issues you may encounter. The good news is that most other fixes that you can try are similarly straightforward.

Problem: My WiFi Is Not Working in Certain Rooms

Cause: If your WiFi is not working in certain rooms but working well in others, then it’s likely that your WiFi router is placed in a wrong spot.

Ideally, you want the router to be placed far away from any solid obstacles, such as furniture, large appliances, and thick walls. If possible, position it right in the center of your living space so that it can cover each and every room with an evenly distributed WiFi signal.

Select a Good Place for Your Router

Instead of determining the optimal location without any data to support your decision, we recommend you perform a WiFi site survey using NetSpot. The purpose of a WiFi site survey is to visualize signal strength on a map so that you can quickly and easily see where you’ll likely have trouble connecting to your WiFi.

Visualize signal strength on a map
NetSpot help you gain a comprehensive understanding of your WiFi coverage

To perform a WiFi site survey using NetSpot, all you need is a laptop with Windows and macOS.

NetSpot will guide you through the entire process and help you gain a comprehensive understanding of your WiFi coverage.

Problem: WiFi Not Working Fast Enough

Cause: Many issues with WiFi networks not delivering the expected download and upload speeds boil down to one thing: WiFi channel overcrowding.

The 2.4 GHz WiFi band is divided into 11 channels (at least in North America), but only channels 1,6, and 11 don’t overlap with another. Because there are effectively only three channels to choose from, what often happens is that multiple neighboring WiFi networks broadcast on the same channel, which becomes overcrowded and unable to deliver fast download and upload speeds.

Channels

To determine which of the three non-overlapping WiFi channels is used the least, you can run NetSpot in Discover mode. In this mode, NetSpot collects every detail about surrounding WiFi networks and presents wireless data as an interactive table.

NetSpot Discover Mode

Once you have located the least occupied channel, log in to your router’s admin interface, go to wireless settings, and tell your router to use it. Make sure to restart your router so that it starts broadcasting on the new channel. While you’re at it, you may also want to activate the 5 GHz WiFi band if your router supports it.

Problem: WiFi Router Not Working at Random Times

Cause: Random connection problems are often caused by faulty firmware or malicious software.

Before you call your internet service provider and ask, “Why is my WiFi not working?” check if your WiFi router is updated to the latest version. An unpatched router may be full of security vulnerabilities, and it’s possible that your issues with random connection drops are actually caused by hackers trying to exploit them.

If you’ve been using your WiFi router for some time, check when the last update was released. Many router manufacturers don’t support their product for nearly as long as they should, leaving their customers with unpatched devices and no way to secure them. Some routers are compatible with aftermarket firmware like DD-WRT or OpenWrt, but most low-end and mid-range routers that have stopped receiving updates need to be replaced with a newer model.

In addition to ensuring that your WiFi router is in the best shape possible, you need to eliminate the possibility that your internet connection is affected by malicious code on your computer. Included in Windows 10 is a capable antivirus called Windows Defender, and you should use it to scan your computer as well as all storage devices connected to it.

Problem: My WiFi Router Is Working, but It’s Impossible to Access Certain Websites

Cause: This problem is commonly caused by a corrupted DNS cache on your computer or router, whose purpose is to store all recently visited websites so they can be loaded quickly. First, test if you can connect to the internet by entering the following command in the Command Prompt (Windows) or Terminal (Mac):

ping 8.8.8.8

If you see something like “Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=8ms TTL=114,” it means your internet is working. To flush your DNS cache on Windows, enter the following command in the admin Command Prompt:

ipconfig /flushdns

To flush DNS cache on Mac, enter this command instead:

sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder

Finally, you need to turn your attention to your router and apply the universal WiFi fix we’ve described at the start of this article to clear the router’s own DNS cache. You can then use the ping command again to verify that your DNS system is working as it should.

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FAQ

Why is my WiFi not working?

There are many possible answers to this question, which is why you should start by performing an in-depth analysis of your WiFi network using a wireless network analyzer like NetSpot.

How do I fix my WiFi connection?

There are several things you can do to fix your WiFi connection, and we recommend that you start by restarting your router. If that doesn’t help, then you need to follow the WiFi troubleshooting techniques described in this article to pinpoint the cause of the problem and resolve it.

Why my WiFi is not working on my phone?

If your WiFi is working everywhere else but not on your phone, then it’s likely that something is wrong with the phone itself. If you haven’t done so already, restart it and see if it helps. You can also delete information about the WiFi network and connect to it again from scratch.

Can you have WiFi but no internet?

Yes, it’s possible to have a working WiFi connection but no access to the internet. This usually happens when the internet service provider is experiencing technical issues or when there’s something wrong with the internet modem.

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Read next in All about Wi-Fi

If you want to dive deeper into this Wi-Fi thing, check out the following articles about Wi-Fi security, the best apps for wireless networking, inflight WiFi, etc.
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Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.10+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless network adapter.