Troubleshooting Slow WiFi Networks

WiFi is like electricity, you only notice it when it’s not working. Then panic begins to set in. Thankfully, there’s no need to, as most WiFi issues can easily be fixed with a few simple tweaks here and there. Here’s our top ten troubleshooting tips for your wireless network.

Problem = Slow or no access in some rooms

There’s a good chance that the room in question has become a bit of WiFi dead zone. Load up a network analyser and check the signal output in the room in question. If needs be, reboot any network extenders and the router.

Problem = Slow Internet

This could one of two things: a problem with the router and your network, or a problem with the ISP. Test the connection by directly plugging a device into the router’s Ethernet ports. If the problem persists, then call your ISP. If it’s okay, then turn off all your networking equipment and one-by-one power them while keeping testing to find the culprit.

Problem = Refusal to connect

Occasionally, there’s a device that will refuse to establish a connection with your wireless network. First thing to try is a physical, Ethernet, connection (if it has one). If it works, try re-installing the WiFi drivers on the device, if that’s not possible, try another WiFi network, it could be a problem with the device’s WiFi card.

Problem = Random loss of bandwidth

First check is to establish a pattern. Does it happen when you power on something else in the house, if so, it could be causing interference with the signal. Does it happen when a certain device is connected? Check the device, as it could be downloading a huge file, or it could have some form of malware.

Problem = Unknown device discovered

If you maintain a good network order, and you’ve just spotted an unknown device on your network, then you need to act quickly. If possible, drop the connection via the router’s web interface, then change your access password. Check all devices for malware, ask other family members if they know who it could be. Worst case, change all passwords.

Problem = WiFi is completely gone

If nothing is connecting to your WiFi, then the problem is likely with your router. Check the router, if you can access its web interface, check the access logs, and check for any recent updates (an update from the ISP could have damaged it). If a reboot doesn’t fix it, contact your ISP.

Problem = Everything works, but no Internet

Check the indicator lights on the router, if the Internet LED is off, then reboot the router and wait for a connection. If the LED is on, but still no Internet, try installing a VPN and seeing if you can connect, it could be an issue with the ISP’s DNS entries.

Problem = Forgot the WiFi password

If you’ve forgotten your WiFi password, then you may need to factory reset the router. Use a paperclip and locate the tiny pin-hole (usually marked Reset). Poke the paperclip in for 30 seconds. Reboot the router. It should be reset back to the its original settings and password.

Problem = Overall poor signal

Providing your router is working well, check with a wireless device while standing next to the router. If it’s okay, then the problem is likely poor signal spread. Try and reposition the router, don’t put it in a cupboard, and see if that helps. If the signal is poor while next to it, there could be a problem. Try rebooting, otherwise contact your ISP.

Problem = Speeds aren’t as advertised

If your network extender or router isn’t performing at the speeds it was advertised as, try the following. Ensure that the router’s configuration is setup for maximum signal strength. If it has external antennae, move them around to change the signal spread. Reboot the router and any WiFi extenders. Reposition the router and extenders for better signal through walls and such.

David Hayward

David has spent most of his life tinkering with technology, from the ZX Spectrum, getting his hands on a Fujitsu VPP5000/100 supercomputer, and coding on an overheating Raspberry Pi. He's written for the likes of Micro Mart, Den of Geek, and countless retro sites and publications, covering reviews, creating code and bench testing the latest tech. He also has a huge collection of cables.

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