So many things we do today require internet access, and a dropped or slow internet connection can cause a loss of productivity or even a loss of income. Knowing how to get back online fast can save you precious hours and make your tech interactions more enjoyable.
Here are some of the most common reasons why your internet isn't working. Use our tips to get connected again and browse web pages, use VOIP, and stream your favourite shows.
Reasons your internet may not work well
Before you even begin trying to fix your internet, you need to know which of the following 2 issues you’re facing:
You don’t have an internet connection
Your connection is slow, intermittent, or lagging
The following fixes may help with either of these internet connection problems, but it’s not always possible for you to fix them on your own. In the case of an internet glitch on your provider’s end, you’ll need to rely on them to resolve it. Using these methods can at least help you understand if the problem is yours or something related to your internet service.
1. Your modem and router
If you have ever called your internet service provider (ISP) about internet issues, chances are you were told to turn your router off and on again.
You can solve many internet issues when you reset your router. The same goes for your internet modem, which is the device connected to the line that comes into your home and is provided by your ISP.
Depending on your provider, you may have a router, a modem, or both. Powering both devices off for at least 1 minute and then turning them back on may fix your issue.
Other suggestions include:
Check for power. The power cord going into your device may be shorting out, or the electrical outlet may be faulty.
Upgrade your device’s firmware. If you own your router and modem, you can search the manufacturer’s website to upgrade to the latest firmware version. If your internet provider owns your equipment, they should help you with this.
Your device may be malfunctioning. There’s not a lot you can do about a router or modem that doesn't work. If the device doesn’t turn on or continually drops the connection, you may need to replace it. Try resetting it to factory defaults as a last effort.
2. Your computer/laptop/tablet
There is a whole list of things that can go wrong at the computer level. Start the process by restarting your computer to see if it resolves the issues.
Another option is to check your internet settings. You should also turn on your device’s wireless setting if available, and make sure you didn’t accidentally turn on Airplane mode. You can also use another internet-connected device to ensure it’s not your laptop or desktop giving you issues.
3. Your ISP
If your ISP is the source of the problem, there’s not a lot you can do to fix it. However, letting them know about the issue can pinpoint it or at least bring it to their attention.
Contact your ISP and check their service outages map if they have one. If the problem seems widespread, they are likely working on the solution already. The map page may also provide you with a timeline for resolution.
4. Your bandwidth usage
What if you can connect to your internet, but you experience laggy or slow service? You may have a bandwidth problem.
Think of your internet service like a hose, with only a set amount of water coming through at once. With each sprinkler you attach, you divide the water pressure going to each. If you connect many devices to the internet in your home at once, a similar experience will occur.
The first thing you should do is see who is using the internet. If someone is gaming or streaming HD movies, this will take a lot of bandwidth. You can prioritize the connections in your router settings. However, you should consider upgrading for more bandwidth if this happens often.
5. Virus or malware
Viruses can wreak havoc on your computer, but they also run in the background and use your internet service for their own purposes. If you’re the only one using the internet, have a good connection, and still experience slow service, your computer may be infected with a virus or malware.
Update your antivirus program and run a full scan of your computer to make sure nothing is hiding in your system. You should check that your firewall is working and review your browser protections. Removing even one virus can get you back up and running again at top speeds.
6. System instability
Has it been a long time since you removed unused and unessential startup programs? If too many applications compete for processing power, this may cause a glitchy internet connection.
Use Task Manager to see what’s running and close unessential programs. You may also try using Startup Manager to choose which programs you need when you start your computer.
Everything from Discord to Steam updater to Zoom will run in the background whether or not you use them, eating up resources and using small amounts of valuable bandwidth.
Other ideas for internet troubleshooting
You can also try these methods to improve your bandwidth.
7. Ping test
You can see if the internet issues are on your or your ISP’s end by running a ping test. Here’s how:
Type “command prompt” into the Start Menu
Open the Command Prompt application
Type “ping 220.127.116.11”
You will see how long it takes for each data packet to get to Google’s servers and return to you. If you see long ping times (longer than a second) or dropped packets, there may be internet issues your ISP can help you resolve. Use this ping test information when speaking to an internet service rep to help them troubleshoot.
8. OS updates
Whether you use Windows 10 or Windows 11, it’s essential to update your operating system often to reduce security threats and keep your entire system running well.
If you don’t use automatic updates, you can force an update. To check that your system runs on the most recent version of Windows 11:
Click the Start Button
Select Windows Updates
You’ll see if any updates are ready, how long they will take, and if they happen automatically. You can force an update by clicking to update now.
Windows 10 users have a similar option:
Click the Start Button
Go to Settings
Select Update & Security
Select Windows Update
You can also see if any updates are pending and start them immediately.
9. Change router location
While this is the most simple issue, it’s sometimes the most frustrating to resolve. If you use a wireless connection to get online, you may be in a bad location for a powerful signal. You can resolve this issue by moving closer to your wireless router or connecting directly with an ethernet cable.
Some newer laptops, especially convertible models, don’t come with ethernet ports. A USB to ethernet converter solves this problem, allowing any laptop with an extra USB or USB-C port to use a wired connection.
Other solutions include wireless extenders, which connect to your router wirelessly. You can plug them in at various points in your home or office and “extend” the signal by acting as repeaters to reach the farthest corners of your space.
If the idea of extenders doesn’t appeal to you, consider a mesh router system. These easily connect and work together as one wireless system. Each router acts as an extender, with every point sharing the same home network name and login.
Some users prefer mesh routers over extenders, which have their own network name and login and require you to reconnect to the one with the strongest signal as you move through your home. Mesh routers automatically hand off your connection to the closest signal point, so you don’t have to connect to each point separately.
When you need help with your internet connection
It may take time to figure out why the internet is not working, and you may feel under pressure to resolve your issue quickly, especially if it causes you to miss work or school. If none of the above solutions helps, you may need to work with a professional to solve your connectivity woes.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.
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