Here’s the scenario: you’re sitting on the couch, feet propped on the coffee table with your laptop in hand. You’re feeling sanguine so you load up a few HD 1080p videos on Youtube. Then you fire up Spotify and…. bam – you’re unceremoniously disconnected from the web.
What the heck just happened?
Usually, you’ll just get up (or bark at your wife) to reset the router. But this is beginning to happen more frequently and you want to find the root cause so you can permanently eliminate this problem.
If you’re constantly rebooting the router then here are three tips that will almost certainly fix the problem:
- Change the Channel
- Check Power Settings
- Update Drivers and Firmware
Change the Channel
The first thing you should do is change the channel from auto to a higher channel.
If you live in an apartment building or are having connectivity problems in a space crowded by nearby networks then someone else could be sharing a wireless channel with you.
When channels overlap they interfere with each other and when they interfere with each other connections get dropped.
The easiest way to find the best channel is to use a free wireless scanner like inSSIDer. It’s available for Mac, PC, or even your Droid if you want. The nice thing about this program is that it lets you visualize all the networks in your area, including your network, and compares the channels they use.
You’ll probably find a myriad of wireless networks in your area using your channel number.
Most people use channels 1, 6, or 11 so you can probably take a guess and change your channel to something other than that. You can probably make the change by logging into your wireless router’s web interface; usually by typing an IP like http://192.168.1.1 into a web browser, google your vendor to make sure.
Once you log in, find the setup or wireless section then change your network to another channel.
The graphic above looks complicated but it’s not so confusing if you see it as four sections.
The upper left shows all the wireless networks.
The upper right shows the selected network, in this case, friedchicken.
The bottom left corner shows the 2.4GHz network and the bottom right shows 5Ghz networks; if you have a dual-band router you might see the same SSID in both boxes.
Now look in the upper left corner again and pay attention to the channel column. I counted 10 networks sharing the same channel as mine, since all these networks are in proximity to friedchicken I may encounter connectivity problems. In this case, changing the channel to 9 will probably fix the problem.
Check WiFi Power Settings
Some wireless adapters will go sleep after a certain period of inactivity. This is particularly a problem on laptops that are running on battery power.
Your computer probably comes with a preinstalled power manager program that you never use. You can try to find that on your system or just click Start then type change when the computer sleeps
I’ll show you how to get there in Windows 7 but the process is almost identical for Vista and similar for Windows 8 and 8.1.
When the power settings screen appears, choose Change advanced power settings in the bottom left corner.
Go down to Wireless Adapter Settings, expand Power Saving Mode and change the plan to Maximum Performance for both On battery and Plugged in.
Update WiFi Driver and Router Firmware
If the connection is still randomly dropping you should go to the wireless routers support page and update the firmware.
You can update your WiFi driver by clicking the Windows icon in the lower left corner of the screen and typing this phrase:
After this your connectivity should return to normal.
The Bottom Line
WiFi networks work most of the time; however, after rebooting your router for the fifth consecutive time you may feel the need for a permanent fix. By changing your WiFi channel, power settings, and installing the latest updates you will obviate the problem 90% of the time. The other 10% might mean you need to reset the router to its factory defaults or in pretty rare cases buy a new router.
If the above suggestions didn’t fix your problem please comment below so I can help.