Why is my Wi-Fi turned off? 5 common reasons and how to fix it
This story is part of Top tipsCNET’s collection of practical tips for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
There really is never a good time to turn off your Wi-Fi. whatever you’re using the internet for at the time (streaming television, online game, work from home or some combination thereof) comes to an abrupt and frustrating halt. Internet outages can also hit you Wi-Fi security cameras, smart light switches and other connected devices offline, even when you’re away, isn’t ideal.
While there’s not much you can do about internet outages when you’re away from home, troubleshooting and dealing with random service outages can be pretty quick and simple. Here are the most common reasons why your internet might be down and how to fix the problem if possible. Spoiler alert. it’s not always your fault internet service provider. (For more Wi-Fi tips, check out why your router might be in the wrong placeand: how to find free Wi-Fi anywhere in the world.)
The most common causes of home Internet outages
Here are some of the main reasons that can cause your internet to go down. we’ll discuss solutions for each below.
1. Modem/router problems
2. Insufficient speeds or equipment
3. Hacking or network problems
4. Bad weather
5. ISP service interruptions and network congestion
It may take a bit of investigation and troubleshooting to narrow down the exact problem. Start by confirming that the connection problem is not specific to one site, server, or device.
If you’ve lost your Netflix connection in the middle of a show, check to see if other streaming services are still available and working. If so, the problem is probably with Netflix, not your internet connection. If you’re having trouble connecting to other streaming services, your smart TV or streaming device may be to blame. Try streaming on another device, if possible, check that an internet outage is to blame.
When your home Internet connection goes down, it’s most likely because your modem and/or router is down. The solution is often simple. reboot the device by turning it off, waiting about 10 seconds, turning it back on, and letting it reboot. More often than not, this will solve your crash.
When rebooting your router, I would recommend turning off the power by turning it off instead of pressing or holding any button on the device. This may prompt a hard reset on the device, returning it to factory settings and erasing your Wi-Fi network settings. Granted, a reset will likely restore your internet connection, but you’ll also have the added problem of setting up your Wi-Fi again.
Also remember that your device may have a battery backup. If the lights on your modem or router do not turn off when you unplug it from the power source, check for batteries and temporarily remove them while restarting the device.
Insufficient speeds or equipment
Maybe your internet isn’t necessarily “out”, it just can’t keep up with what you’re trying to do or where you’re doing it.
Constant buffering, excessive latency, Wi-Fi dead zones, and other connection issues can be caused by insufficient speed, bandwidth, or Wi-Fi coverage to handle all your devices. There are two ways to fix the situation. reduce internet expectations and use or perform some updates.
Consider the Internet speeds you need and determine if your current plan can provide those speeds. If your plan lacks the speeds you need, upgrading to a faster plan (assuming one is available) will be your best option. Many cable and fiber internet providers offer speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) or higher, which is plenty of speed for the average home.
On the other hand, if you think your current plan should meet your needs, your hardware may be at fault. Run a few speed tests around your home to gauge what speeds you’re getting and where the Wi-Fi signal might not be as strong. Sometimes simply moving your router to a more efficient location will improve connection quality and eliminate or at least reduce dead zones.
Otherwise, you can invest in a better router or Wi-Fi extenders to boost the Wi-Fi signal throughout your home. If you rent equipment from a supplier, call to ask about getting a better one.
Try adjusting your router settings
Your router should allow you to direct connected devices to a specific pod or extender if you have one, and between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. You will get a stronger signal in the 5 GHz band, but only if your device is in range (the 5 GHz band is shorter than 2.4 GHz) and if there are not many other devices connected to the 5 GHz frequency. So, if your connection quality is poor on a particular device, try switching device bands or moving some other devices from the band you are using.
Use a wired connection
Connecting directly to your modem, router, or pods/extenders using an Ethernet cable will be your best bet for establishing and maintaining a solid connection. If possible, use a wired connection for devices with the widest bandwidth, such as smart TVs and game consoles. Not only will this often provide a better, faster connection, but it will also reduce the load on your Wi-Fi network.
A less likely but still possible cause of internet outages is a compromised network. If hackers gain access to your Wi-Fi network, they can completely restrict your Internet access for any or all devices.
If you suspect that someone has gained unauthorized access to your network, immediately go to your router settings and recreate your Wi-Fi network (preferably) with a different network name and (definitely) a different password. make it difficult for a hacker to find out.
Along with creating a strong password, be sure to keep all firmware on your router and any connected devices up-to-date to help prevent hacking attempts. Installing antivirus software will also help protect your devices. Many ISPs offer virus and malware protection at no extra cost.
Yes, Mother Nature can mess with your internet connection. Some types of Internet connection are more prone to Internet outages than others during bad weather, but heavy rain, heavy thunderstorms, or even heavy cloud cover can disrupt your signal.
Satellite Internet is the most vulnerable to Internet outages due to weather conditions, but a power outage can shut down any type of connection. Having a modem and router with battery backup can help you stay connected during power outages, although they will be useless if the power outage prevents Internet service from accessing your modem.
If you have satellite internet, a rain shield, snow shield or dish warmer can help prevent outages due to bad weather in the immediate area of your home. Signal interference can occur along the path between the satellite and your dish, but heavy cloud cover or rain can affect your connection even if it’s miles away. In that case, unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about the internet outage. you just have to wait for the signal to return.
DownDetector/Screenshot courtesy of CNET
ISP outages and network congestion
Despite the negative impression many people have of their ISPs, widespread ISP outages are rare, and local outages are virtually unheard of (unless, of course, you forget to pay the bill). However, it is possible that the provider is having problems.
If your internet is completely down and you’ve already tried restarting your router, check your provider’s social media pages, official website, or sources like downdector.com for updates and crash reports. You can also call customer service, but be prepared for a long wait.
Other than confirming that your provider is having problems, there’s nothing you can do in these situations other than wait for service to be restored. Outages are bad publicity, so be sure your ISP is doing everything they can to restore service as quickly as possible.
Outages are rare, but network congestion can be a much more frequent problem, and while it won’t always drop your connection completely, it can certainly slow down speeds. Cable, DSL, and satellite Internet are vulnerable to network congestion, as is 5G home Internet. T-Mobile acknowledges that network congestion can lead to slower speeds, noting that “during periods of congestion, home Internet customers may experience slower speeds than customers using other T-Mobile services due to data prioritization.”
Network congestion means speeds to your home slow down, so there’s not much you can do about it other than wait for the congestion to clear. However, you can make the most of the speeds you get by placing your router in an optimal location, adjusting your Wi-Fi settings, or using an Ethernet connection as mentioned above.
Is the internet still bad? Here’s what else to try
In addition to the tips listed above, there are several ways you can get back online.
The first is using your mobile connection. Your phone will likely automatically switch to cellular service if your Wi-Fi goes out, so you’ll be able to use your phone as you would if you were away from home. However, keep in mind that this will use up your mobile data.
Additionally, some phones, carriers, and plans allow you to create a Wi-Fi hotspot. It probably won’t power your home the way your router does, but it will let you connect multiple devices until your home network comes back up.
Second, and perhaps only applicable for longer outages or urgent internet needs like turning in a school assignment on time, would be to find a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Your local public library, coffee shop, or restaurant, among many other public places, may offer free Wi-Fi.
Be aware that using public Wi-Fi is not as secure as your home network, so consider using a VPN or avoid doing anything that involves sensitive data (passwords, bank details, paying your taxes, etc.) on a public network during stay. .
Why does my internet keep disconnecting?
There can be a number of factors affecting your internet connection. The first and most likely are problems with your hardware. Rebooting your modem/router should fix the problem.
Other reasons why your internet may continue to disconnect include insufficient speed, network congestion and bad weather. It’s possible that your provider is dealing with a service outage, but for frequent connection drops, I’d look at the previously mentioned causes, starting with your router.
Can I get partial compensation for ISP outages?
Many providers offer compensation for extended or frequent outages. Spectrum, for example, will provide a “prorated credit for those who qualify for outages of 4 or more consecutive hours.” Call to report the outage as soon as possible and monitor how long it takes to request a refund.
Will a power outage kill my internet service?
Not always, but probably. When the power goes out, it doesn’t necessarily prevent Internet service from coming into your home, but it can certainly limit your ability to use the Internet. If your modem and router do not have battery backup, a power outage will disable those devices, resulting in you not being able to connect to the Internet.