There's nothing more frustrating than opening a web browser, entering an 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.
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.
Before we go any further, we need to introduce you to the so-called universal WiFi fix:
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.
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.
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.
If you haven't used NetSpot before, first read "How Do I Start My Survey?" The first steps are to identify the area you wish to perform Wi-Fi troubleshooting on, and then upload a map of the area (or draw a map in NetSpot if you use the macOS version).
Then proceed with your survey, taking data samples throughout the area. Once your survey is complete, you will be able to view heatmap visualizations of the entire area.
NetSpot will guide you through the entire process and help you gain a comprehensive understanding of your WiFi coverage.
To perform a WiFi site survey with NetSpot, all you need is a laptop with Windows and macOS. No hardware required.
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.
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.
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.
Reas our article on how to fix slow WiFi and what can cause it.
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.
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):
If you see something like “Reply from 22.214.171.124: 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:
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.
NetSpot PRO users have access to special automated troubleshooting visualizations. These will help you to pinpoint the exact areas of your network where your signal is failing. Here is a brief overview of the visualizations and what you can learn:
Areas of green are of concern and blue areas are critical. If your wireless network troubleshooting scan shows SNR issues, you will need to consider raising your signal strength or lowering the surrounding noise.
The Low Signal Level heatmap will show you where your signal strength is weak. Causes of weak signal strength include too much distance between the router and the device, or something physically blocking the signal between the router and device.
If your WLAN troubleshooting scan shows areas of green and blue signal levels, you may need to explore ways to boost your signal level.
The High Noise Level heatmap will show you where the levels of noise are high. Noise can be caused by electronic devices such as microwave ovens, cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, and wireless video cameras.
If your wireless network troubleshooting scan shows areas of blue and green, you may need to explore lowering the noise levels by identifying the interfering devices and removing or shielding them.
The Overlapping Channels heatmap shows your signal-to-interference ratio and we've touched this topic earlier. This kind of interference is caused by other radio transmitters, such as your neighbor's wireless network.
If your Wi-Fi troubleshooter scan shows blue and green areas, you may need to change your network's WiFi channel to one with less interference.
Follow our recommendations on how to troubleshoot WiFi interference with NetSpot.
If you do an active scan of your network, the Low Download Rate and Low Upload Rate heatmaps will show areas where your Internet connection speed is slow.
If your troubleshooting scan shows red and yellow areas, you may need to consider boosting your signal strength or changing your hardware, protocols or bandwidth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To troubleshoot any issues with your WiFi start with performing a WiFi site survey in the NetSpot app. New to NetSpot? Not a problem! Just read "How Do I Start My Survey?" and follow the comprehensive guide. First of all identify the area you are troubleshooting. Then you can either upload a map to NetSpot or draw it from scratch.
Once you have a map, you can start taking data samples of your area. When done, you will be able to see the heatmap NetSpot built based upon the measurements you've taken.
You also may check our top of the best apps for WiFi troubleshooting.
Thanks to the Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) heatmap you can easily see where the signal doesn't have enough strength to overcome the noise created by other electronic devices in the area. Green and blue areas are those of concern, with blue (cold) being critical and needing to be taken care of in the first place.
Refer to the Low Signal Level heatmap to see the areas of weak signal. Weak signal strength might be caused by a router being too far from a device or by an obstacle between router and device physically blocking the signal. If you see green and blue areas on your heatmap, you might want to explore ways to strengthen the signal there.
You'll easily determine the areas with high noise levels thanks to the High Noise Level heatmap. Even such appliances as microwave ovens can cause noise and lower the strength of WiFi signal. If you see green and blue areas on your heatmap — look for electronic devices that might be causing the issue and try moving them to another spot.
Use the Overlapping Channels heatmap to see the areas that have a critical signal-to-interference ratio. The blue and green areas will show you where the interference is the highest. Try changing your network's WiFi channel to eliminate the issue.
To see where your Internet connection speed is slow, perform an active scan of your network, and refer to the Low Download Rate and Low Upload Rate heatmaps. If you see red and yellow areas, you might need to change the protocols or bandwidth, or upgrade your hardware.