With the proliferation of smart home devices, online gaming platforms, and streaming video services, maintaining a strong Internet connection at home is more important than ever. If you’re experiencing lag while playing League of Legends, or it takes forever to download music, there’s a good chance that the problem is on your end and not an Internet Service Provider (ISP) issue. Before you schedule a service call with your cable company, check out our tips for troubleshooting your Internet connection.
Can You Ping It?
Try performing a Ping test to see if you can connect to the outside world. There are several free Ping utilities available, but the easiest way to ping a website using Windows is to open a command prompt and type “ping,” followed by the IP address of the site you want to ping. If you don’t know the IP address, you can type the full address. For example, to ping Google, type Ping google.com. This sends small data packets to the target site and measures how fast your connection is in milliseconds. If the test is successful, you’ll see timed results. If it continuously fails, try pinging several sites. Keep in mind that not all websites accept pings. If you still can’t get results, you might have a problem with your modem or router, or the problem might be on your service provider’s end.
Are You Getting Power?
If you can’t connect to the Internet at all, take a look at your router’s LED status indicators. If there are no lights at all, the router is probably unplugged or powered down. Please disconnect the power cord and reconnect it after a minute or two. Make sure that the Power switch is in the On position. If the router still isn’t powering up, you may have a failed power adapter, a faulty power strip, or a fried router. If you have cable or DSL, you should also check that your modem is getting power.
Check Your Status
If you have a modem and a router, make sure they are both functioning properly. Check your modem first to see if its power LED is lit. Also, check your Link or Online LED and any activity LEDs. If there is no power or LED activity, turn the modem and router off and wait several minutes before restarting. Wait until the modem comes back online before restarting the router. If your router’s power LED is lit, check the Internet or WAN indicator. On most routers, this should be green and may be flashing. If your router doesn’t have status indicators, look around back to see if the Ethernet port lights are flashing. If there is no activity, turn the router off. Unplug and reconnect each cable, making sure each cable is seated correctly in the appropriate port. Wait a few minutes before rebooting the router.
Change The Channel
Routers can use one of 14 frequencies, or channels, to send and receive data over the widely used 2.4GHz band. Most of these channels overlap, but channels 1, 6, and 11 do not and are the most frequently used. If your Wi-Fi connection is spotty, you may be experiencing channel interference. Try changing your Wi-Fi channel using the router-management console. If the channel is set to Auto, try setting it to another channel to see if this improves your connection.
Cable Connection Okay?
Before you start thinking about resetting or replacing your router, inspect the connection coming into your home. This is usually located on the side of your house and may or may not be housed in an enclosure. Ensure that the main cable hasn’t been chewed up by a squirrel or knocked loose by debris from a storm. If a cable splitter is being used, make sure each connection is tight and the connectors are properly crimped. If the splitter looks suspect (i.e., rusty or dirty), try replacing it.
If rebooting your router doesn’t do the trick, try resetting it to its factory defaults and performing a fresh install. For most routers, this is done by pressing a tiny reset button on the rear panel and holding it down for several seconds until the LED lights begin flashing. Once reset, use the accompanying disk or Web-based setup utility to reinstall the router.
Make Sure Your Firmware Is Current
Firmware is embedded software installed at the factory on a read-only memory (ROM) chip, which allows the router hardware to implement network and security protocols. Most vendors provide downloadable firmware updates that resolve performance issues, add new features, and increase throughput performance. Look for the firmware update tool in the System section of your router’s management console and follow the instructions carefully to ensure that you install the correct firmware version. Do not download the firmware from a third-party site.
Do You Need an Extender?
If you can wirelessly connect to the Internet in one room but not another, check your router’s Wi-Fi signal strength. Look at the network connection icon on your PC or mobile device to see how many bars are showing. If you only see one or two bars, your Wi-Fi signal may be too weak to maintain a strong Internet connection. Try connecting to another band if you have a dual-band router. Readjusting the router’s antennas or changing your router’s location (if possible) can help improve range as well. If relocating the router is out of the question, a range extender may be required to boost the router’s Wi-Fi signal. We like the Tenda P1002P 2-Port Powerline Adapter Kit and the Amped Wireless Titan-EX High Power AC1900 Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE1900A).
Is Your PC/Phone/Tablet Configured Correctly?
If you can browse the Web with your laptop but can’t connect with your smartphone or another PC, check the problem device’s network settings. For smartphones, go to your Wi-Fi settings and make sure Wi-Fi is enabled and that you are connected to the proper SSID using the correct security password. Make sure Airplane Mode is disabled and that your time and date are correct. For Windows clients, make sure the Wi-Fi switch is turned on and that the device is not in Airplane Mode. Right-click on the network icon in your system tray and select Troubleshoot Problems to run the Windows Network Diagnostic routine. Very often, this will correct common issues by resetting the adapter. Also, check your network adapter settings to ensure that the adapter functions properly and uses the latest driver.
Make Sure Your PC Is Healthy
Check for spyware, viruses, and malware. These programs are easily downloaded and installed, without your knowledge, while you’re surfing the Web. They can run undetected and have a significant impact on your Web surfing speed and overall system performance. There are plenty of free and subscription-based utilities available that will detect and eradicate these programs and prevent them from being downloaded and installed in the first place.
Time to Upgrade Your Router?
If you’re using an older 802.11b or 802.11g model, you may want to consider upgrading to a newer, more powerful router, especially if you have multiple client devices vying for bandwidth. A dual-band router gives you two radio bands to choose from and allows you to dedicate a band to clients that require lots of bandwidths, like streaming video devices and gaming consoles. Moreover, newer routers employ the latest technologies to deliver speedy throughput, with enhanced Wi-Fi range. Check out our list of the best wireless routers when you’re ready to take the plunge.
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Last Resort: Dial Up Your ISP
If you’ve tried everything and are still experiencing Internet connection woes, it’s time to call your service provider. It could be that the problem is on its end and may require a new connection at the pole coming into your house and/or new equipment such as a cable modem or amplifier. If you’re experiencing slowdowns at certain times of the day (think after-school hours), your ISP may be simply unable to handle the increased user load, in which case you may want to find a new service provider. Lucky for you, we’ve tested to find the fastest ISPs in the country.
For more tips to help speed up your surfing, check out Router Features You Should Be Using, Tricks to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal, and How to Set Up and Configure Your Router.