Tips to Help if Your Windows Device Seems to Be Dropping Your Wireless Internet Connection
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Tips to Help if Your Windows Device Seems to Be Dropping Your Wireless Internet Connection

Following these steps if you have trouble with your WiFi can get you back into the fast lane

July 5, 2021

Ever want to get online but receive an error message that the connection is unavailable? The inability to get online is often related to the need to reboot or reset your hardware, but we've investigated and have a step-by-step series of procedures for you to consider in order to get you reconnected to the world. While these steps might not fix your problem, they may point you in the right direction.

Reboot Your Hardware

Rebooting your hardware can often solve your problems. Reboot your computer and see if the issue is fixed. If not, try a reboot of all hardware. Power down your computer and unplug it. For laptops, also remove the battery. Afterwards, unplug the modem and the router. Wait a few seconds to allow residual power to discharge from the devices and then plug them back in, starting with the modem. Once you have allowed the modem to boot completely, plug in the router. Once the router has booted, power on your devices. This can often solve problems caused when hardware remains turned on for a long period of time.

Update firmware on your modem and router

You can't service modems and routers provided by your Internet provider. These are usually updated automatically. But if you have your own devices, you should consult the manufacturer's website for instructions on updating the firmware. It's usually a fairly straightforward process and involves logging into your device. The device has a default user name and password, which varies from one manufacturer and device to another. Firmware can be updated frequently on new models, often fixing minor annoyances and connection issues. Even if you have the option set to automatically update firmware, don't presume your device will update automatically. We have found that this option doesn't work on many Linksys/Cisco routers.

Update the device driver for the network card.

Device manufacturers frequently update drivers for their products to address security issues and other bugs. If you device driver is old, check with the manufacturer of your computer, many of whom offer free software that can scan your computer and install the updates. If your computer manufacturer has not updated the driver, you can check if the device manufacturer has an updated generic driver. We recommend that you steer clear of driver update software advertised on the web. A good bit of those software programs don't correctly detect the updates and some are gateways for viruses to be downloaded to your computer. Only use the update software provided by your computer manufacturer, which can be downloaded from the manufacturer's website.

Reset the device.

If you think there may be a problem with the way your device is installed, you can reset it. Locate the device in the device manager, right-click and select "uninstall." Do NOT select the option to delete the driver. Then reboot your computer and the operating system will reinstall it automatically using default options for the device. Make sure you have your network passwords available as any stored passwords will be deleted.

Change the wireless channel.

If you live in a crowded area or in a home with a lot of other wireless devices or sources of electrical interference, you may want to change the wireless channel from "auto" to a higher channel. Turning on the microwave, for example, can disrupt a lot of wireless signals. Sometimes the auto channel feature doesn't work as well as you would like for it to work. For instructions on how to access the settings of your router, consult the manufacturer's website.

Update Windows.

Newer Windows operating systems update most items automatically. Older systems may need to be updated manually. Search your start menu for "Windows Update," "Microsoft Update," or "Check for Updates." After you have checked for and installed the update, reboot and check for updates again until no updates are available. Windows Update may also provide you with a driver update for your wireless adapter.

Check whether or not your computer is managing your wireless adapter's power settings.

In the device manager, right click the adapter and click "properties." Click the "power management" tab and deselect the boxes to allow the computer to turn off the adapter to save power. If the adapter is turning off and on to save power, it might look like the system is malfunctioning.

Let Windows diagnose the problem.

You can right click the wireless network icon in the lower right corner of the screen and select "troubleshoot problems." Windows will check the system. If any problems are found, it will try to fix them for your or give you additional options or suggestions.

Narrow down where the problem is happening.

If the problem is occurring only at home, the problem is likely based somewhere with your router or signal interference. Your home hardware might be failing or you might have other issues that only your service provider can correct. We've seen a problem occur when the power cord for a router was coming out of the wall by a small amount, thereby reducing power to the device and occasionally cycling it. We've also seen defective power strips causing issues. Many manufacturers discourage the use of power strips.