Is my internet working? DIY solutions to the most common internet problems

Samantha Cossick
SC
Samantha Cossick
Aug 1, 2019

From slow internet to your home Wi-Fi not working, internet problems can be a pain. Fortunately, many of the most common internet problems have do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions so that you can be up and running again in no time — tech support not required.

A few weeks ago, we discussed the biggest broadband headaches in every state, narrowing them down to the top five most common internet problems:

  • Slow internet
  • Wi-Fi not working
  • Reset router
  • Wi-Fi not connecting
  • Change Wi-Fi password

Today, we’ll walk you through some DIY solutions to the most common internet problems.

Slow internet

If a page doesn’t load instantaneously, it can almost feel as if we’re being thrust back to the days of dial-up internet. A number of things could be causing a slow internet connection — your ISP is throttling you, there are too many devices connected, your hardware is out of date, etc.

If you ran multiple speed tests over different connections, at different times of day, etc. and are still dealing with slow internet, here’s what to try next.

Solution #1: Reboot your modem and router

Yes, we know that “Turn it off and turn it back on” is now a cliche, but it really does help. Reboot your modem and router by turning them off for 10-30 seconds and then turning them back on. Once everything’s back up and running again, you may find your speeds have improved. In fact, many internet service providers (ISPs) actually recommend you restart your equipment every few months.

Solution #2: Reposition your router

Location, location, location. It’s important in real estate and it’s important with your Wi-Fi router. If you find that your speeds are slowed in certain parts of your home, it may be related to your Wi-Fi router location. your router on a high shelf in a central location, away from other electronic equipment, concrete walls and water. This will give you the best and strongest signal (and don’t just take our word for it, it’s physics).

Solution #3: Upgrade your equipment

If you reboot your equipment and reposition your router and still don’t have the speed you’re paying for, it may be worth looking into an equipment upgrade — especially if you purchased your own equipment. If you’ve recently upgraded your plan to a higher speed tier, your old modem and router may not be compatible to handle those faster speeds.

Wi-Fi not working

Many of the recommended solutions above for slow internet are also applicable to your Wi-Fi not working. However, if you try them out and are still having connection issues — slowed speeds, networking dropping, can’t connect to the internet, equipment on but network not available — here are some things to try.

Solution #1: Check for firmware or hardware updates

If your equipment isn’t up to date, it may not be working optimally (if at all). Most newer modems and routers have app integration that allows you to check for and download updates from your phone with just the push of a button. If not, visit the manufacturer’s website to look for any updates that may be available.

Solution #2: Disconnect bandwidth-draining apps and devices

If your hardware is in good working order, check out the apps on your phone and the devices you have connected. Not closing out your apps after use means they could be running in the background and sucking up bandwidth.

Additionally, having multiple devices (such as phones, laptops, smart TVs, smart home devices, video game consoles and more) powered on and connected to Wi-Fi could be draining your bandwidth. Turn off or disconnect a few devices and see if your connection improves.

Reset router

Knowing when and how to reset your router is an important step to keeping a strong connection throughout your home. In general, you have two options: a soft reset or a hard reset.

Solution #1: Soft reset of your router

Nine times out of 10 you’ll probably only need to do a soft reset of your router. To do this, either locate the power button and press and hold until all of the lights go out or simply unplug your router from the electrical outlet.

Whichever method you choose, make sure to let your equipment sit for 10 to 30 seconds after powering off. Then, simply turn it back on. Doing a soft reset like this won’t change any of your network settings or passwords.

Solution #2: Hard reset of your router

Your other option is to do a hard reset of your router. Keep in mind though that this will remove all of your network settings and passwords, effectively restoring factory settings.

To do this, keep your router turned on and locate the Reset button pinhole (typically located on the back or bottom of your devices). Insert a pen or paperclip into the pinhole and hold for around 30 seconds. Release the Reset button and wait 30 seconds for the router to set and power back on.

Keep in mind that these are general instructions and each router may have a different recommended method for doing a hard reset.

Wi-Fi not connecting

If it looks like your hardware is on but you still can’t connect to the internet or pages aren’t loading, first rule out that it’s not an external server issue (such as a 403 or 404 error) by trying to get online visiting other pages or by using other devices. If that still doesn’t work, try these solutions.

Solution #1: Try a different frequency or channel

Your Wi-Fi router typically has two frequencies (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) for broadcasting your signal as well as multiple channels under each frequency. Changing your frequency from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz will allow for more bandwidth and less interference. Most newer dual-band routers will automatically switch to 5 GHz when the 2.4 GHz frequency becomes overcrowded.

Additionally, changing the channel underneath your frequency could improve your connection. A 2.4 GHz router will have 14 channels; however, many of them overlap resulting in data interference and a slowed connection. If you’re stuck on this frequency, try changing to channel 1, 6 or 11 since they have the least amount of overlap. A 5 GHz router offers 23 non-overlapping channels so interference shouldn’t be an issue if you switch to this frequency.

Solution #2: Change your DNS server

Changing your DNS server, or Domain Name System, could result in an improved connection because you’re changing the way your device looks up and translates a website’s IP address and domain name. In most cases, the default DNS server works well but they can have their own issues or go down completely. So, if you’ve been having persistent connection issues changing your DNS server could improve your connection.

Change Wi-Fi password

Last, but certainly not least, is changing your Wi-Fi password. This may not seem as important as some of the other internet connection problems (because if your Wi-Fi is down, does it really matter what your password is?), but it’s a critical step to keeping your network safe and secure.

Solution #1: Reset your password through device app or provider website

As mentioned above, most newer modems and routers come with app integration that allows you to control everything from your phone, including resetting your password. Simply open up the app and navigate to the password settings.

Additionally, if your equipment is provided by your ISP, you may be able to control your settings and password through their website. For instance, customers who use Xfinity’s Wireless Gateways can login to change their network name and password.

Solution #2: Reset your password through your router’s configuration page

If you don’t have app integration or a provider page to change your Wi-Fi password, you can do so through your router’s configuration page. To access the page, open up your web browser and enter your router address. Most standard router addresses are 192.168.1.1192.168.0.1 or 192.168.2.1.

Enter your router’s username and password (this can typically be found on the device itself or within the handbook). Once you’re able to access the router’s configuration page, you’ll want to look for a section related to Wireless or Wireless Settings or Password. From there, you’ll be able to set your security mode, update your network name and change your password or passphrase.

Why is my internet still not working?

If you’ve exhausted all of the DIY solutions above and are still having internet problems, it may be time to bring in a professional. Start by calling your ISP. They may be able to advise you on external network or equipment issues. If that still doesn’t work, it may be time to consider a faster internet plan or switching providers altogether to ensure you’re getting the connection you need (and are paying for).

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