Troubleshooting WiFi Problems

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Today’s post is an edited combination of two posts I originally wrote for Love My Echo.

Streaming audio or video freezes and skips, devices frequently losing their network connection or failing to communicate with other devices on the network, and a WiFi signal that’s frequently weak are all signs of a potential WiFi problem.

 

Suspicious Chihuahua

 

Easy WiFi Troubleshooting For Non-Engineers
Late in August of this year, Vox.com created this two-minute YouTube video to demonstrate easy methods for improving WiFi signal strength, all based on the science of how WiFi works:

 

What If None Of The Things In The Video Help?
Here’s a list of troubleshooting steps to try, roughly in order of hassle factor, from least to most hassle.

1. Look for sources of WiFi interference.
Certain kinds of wireless devices running on certain bandwidths can cause WiFi interference and even temporary dropouts, as can microwave ovens and some other household devices/appliances. A nearby neighbor’s WiFi network can also cause interference.

 

 

A cordless phone, baby monitor, wireless digital camera/security device, wireless game controller(s), tablet or laptop that’s connected to WiFi and in use in the near vicinity of the device that’s giving you trouble could be your culprit. Even a high-end, programmable television remote control can cause problems when it’s in use. A WiFi device you’re using in the kitchen may be affected by your microwave, too.

If you suspect WiFi interference may be the problem, try relocating your device to a place where other wireless devices and household appliances aren’t likely to be in use nearby. If your home isn’t large enough to reasonably avoid interference at all times, try to limit use of other wireless/WiFi devices when using the device that’s experiencing problems.

See Six Things That Block Your Wi-Fi, and How to Fix Them on PC World and the Cisco whitepaper 20 Myths of Wi-Fi Interference for more details about identifying and troubleshooting WiFi interference problems. Note that the Cisco whitepaper is more technical.

 


[image from mybroadband.co.za]

 

2. Look for sources of high demand on your local WiFi network.
Your available bandwidth is limited, and if others in your household are already taxing your WiFi network with tasks like real-time online gaming (e.g., MMORPG games), streaming video, uploading or downloading large files, resources available to your other network devices can plummet. This can cause temporary slowdowns and even total loss of WiFi availability to additional devices.

 

 

3. Check your router and overall signal strength.
Check the WiFi signal strength indicators on your other devices, like laptops, tablets and video streaming devices. If you’ve only got two bars out of a possible five illuminated on devices in the same room as the device that’s experiencing WiFi problems, your network signal strength is poor in that location. In that case, try moving your device closer to the router.

If your WiFi signal strength is poor throughout your network, regardless of the wireless devices’ location, it could be a router problem.

First, try resetting your router. There should be an easily-accessible button for this on the router, though its location will vary from model to model. Note that the reset will temporarily disconnect your WiFi connections, so check to ensure no one on the network is doing anything critical before doing the reset.

If there’s no change with the reset, try rebooting the router. This means powering it completely down, waiting a minimum of one full minute, and then powering it back on. Again, this will cause a temporary loss of WiFi connectivity.

Still no improvement? Contact your broadband service provider to get some further diagnostics and assistance. Bear in mind, it’s possible that through the gradual addition of more and more WiFi-connected devices, you’ve simply reached the performance limit of your current broadband plan and may need to upgrade.

 

Hopefully, you’ll find something here to help resolve your WiFi issues.

 

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