Troubleshooting the most common Wi-Fi router issues
You may have a number of issues with your Wi-Fi router, such as not being able to connect to the router, slow speeds when connected, or no internet connection at all.
However, if you know where to look and what to do based on specific symptoms, repairing a Wi-Fi router is usually not difficult.
Many symptoms that you may have can overlap. For example, intermittent internet connection problems may appear as a slow connection. Follow the steps below from top to bottom to eliminate the most likely issues first, before moving on to the more complicated ones.
Cause of problems with Wi-Fi routers
Several factors can cause problems with your Wi-Fi router. The most common scenario is a wireless channel overloaded by too many devices using too much bandwidth. The least likely scenario is a hardware failure of the router itself. There are also issues like malware on your device, a hacked router, etc.
The easiest way to determine if your Wi-Fi router is having problems with too many people using the network is to block all connections (except yours) and then perform a speed test. The speed test will reveal if the problem is with the ISPs or yours.
- Log in to your router as an administrator. Be sure to use an Ethernet cable to connect so that you don’t need a Wi-Fi connection to connect after you block all wireless connections.
- Block all devices on your network. You can do this through the access control settings in your router’s menu. Make sure to block all new devices from connecting, then select and block all connected devices. As you are connected by a network cable, it will not affect your connection.
- Take an Internet connection speed test. Make sure you know the speed you should be getting under the plan you purchased from your ISP. Since you’re the only one logged in, your speed should closely match what your plan tells you. If not, you will need to contact your ISP to help them resolve the issue, as it is not your router.
- Lock down your router. Many people forget to change their router’s default settings so that it is secure and that no one else can use your internet. If other people connect to your network, they are using your bandwidth, slowing down your internet connection.
- Once you have completed all the tests and locked your router, perform a full reboot of your router. Reconnect and activate the option Allow all new devices to be reconnect.
At this point, you have verified that you are getting the correct speeds from your ISP. You have also secured your router so that no one can connect to your network without your password. If you are still having issues with your Wi-Fi router, continue to the next section.
Treatment of a hacked Wi-Fi router
Believe it or not, routers are small, purpose-built computers and therefore can be infected with viruses. This is especially true if you have never changed the administrator password or provided the wrong network login password.
Once hackers gain access to your router, they can change settings, open ports, and cause all kinds of trouble. Fortunately, there are ways to fix these issues even after your router has been infected.
- Reset your router to the default factor. By performing a hard reset, all important settings will be restored to the default settings that your ISP originally configured for the router. Always follow Router Reset Rule 30-30-30 when performing a router reset.
- Repeat the above section to secure your router settings again, but go one step further and make sure to turn off WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) to add additional security.
- Change the IP address of your router. This is important because some public IP addresses become known “easy” targets to hackers and are attacked more frequently than others. However, you can release and renew your router’s IP address to get a new one. If you are unable to change the IP address of your router, contact your Internet service provider and request a new fixed IP address.
- Buy a secondary, more secure router. Some wireless routers that ISPs provide to customers are a combination model and router, and security is not always the best. You can turn off the Wi-Fi function of your modem and connect a more secure Wi-Fi router to it. Then configure your home Wi-Fi network with this more secure modem.
- Secure your network after a hack. After a router has been infected, it is likely that other devices on your network have been infected too. Once you’ve cleaned and secured your router, make sure to scan and remove viruses from your Windows 10 PCs, Macs, and cellphones.
Troubleshoot other issues with Wi-Fi routers
If you’ve made it this far and still can’t connect to your router or your performance is poor, there could be a whole host of other issues.
- Change Wi-Fi channels on different devices. If all the devices in your home are using the 5 GHz channel, there is a risk of interference. Try changing your smart home devices and cellphones to use 2.4 GHz, while letting desktops and laptops use 5 GHz.
- Troubleshoot individual Internet connections. If you’ve made it this far and your router seems to be working fine but your internet connection is still poor, this may be a problem on some devices. In that case, take a look at Wi-Fi connection issues specific to Windows 10, macOS, Android, or iOS devices.
- Consider the placement of the router. A common mistake is to place a router in the corner of the house. This results in areas of the house where the Wi-Fi signal is weak or the connections are spotty. Another solution, if you have a large house, is to strengthen your Wi-Fi signal, either by placing it better or by purchasing hardware Wi-Fi amplifiers.
- Check your DHCP settings. Incorrect DHCP settings configured on a router can cause intermittent or permanent connection problems. The DHCP range must match the gateway address.
- Check the DNS servers on your router. Your router will have configured the IP addresses of the DNS servers. Make sure they haven’t changed by asking your ISP’s technical support technician what they should be. You can also test them by setting them up on public DNS servers to see if that fixes your issues (which could mean there are issues with your ISP’s DNS servers).
Have you repaired your Wi-Fi router?
Were you able to resolve your issues with your Wi-Fi router or are you still having connection issues? Don’t be afraid to completely replace the device with a new one.
Ask which modem models your ISP supports and purchase a new cable modem. If it is a modem combined with a Wi-Fi router, there are many wired modems / routers on the market that offer superior security and ease of use.