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12 Tips for Troubleshooting Your Internet


1. My New Router Won't Connect to the Internet

The Problem: You buy a new router. You disconnect the old router, connect the new
one, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for setup. Even though you can see
the new wireless network and can even connect your computer or device, you cannot
browse the Internet.
Quick Fix: Unplug the network cable (or cables) and power from the broadband
modem you received from your ISP including the coaxial or DSL connection, as well
as all cables from the new router. Leave everything unplugged and disconnected for
at least 30 seconds. Next, re-connect the coaxial cable, DSL, or FIOS connection to
the broadband modem, making sure it's firmly in place and that the WAN/Internet
light is on. Then, attach all cables back to your router (including the Ethernet cable
from the broadband modem to the router's WAN port) and power the router back on.
Make sure the Internet connection activity light is on. Doing these steps forces the
broadband modem to flush any information it is holding onto from your previous
router. Try browsing the Internet. If you still can't, go through the router setup
instructions again, now that you have reset the broadband modem.

2. The Router Setup Software Won't Detect the Router

The Problem: The instructions to your new router say that the software on the CD
that came with the router should automatically get your computer to detect the new
router, wirelessly. You've tried a couple of times and keep getting a message that
indicates the software cannot find the router.
Quick Fix: This is actually a common problem with newer routers on the market that
have "automated setup." Sometimes the setup process just doesn't work. Here's how
you can bypass the setup and go right into the router's management interface to setup
your wireless network. Connect an Ethernet cable from your computer to one of the
LAN ports of the router (you can also keep the router connected to the broadband
modem). Go into your computer's network settings. In Windows 7, they are located in
Control Panel|Network and Internet|Network Sharing Center|Change Adapter
Right-click and select Properties of Local Area Connection. Highlight Internet
Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP v4). In the TCP/IP v4 windows that opens, click the radio
button, and select "Use the following IP address." Under "IP address" you type an
address that matches the default IP address of your router, a string of numbers
broken up by periods. You'll find this in the router's documentation. For instance, if
the default IP of the router is "" you should type in ""making
the last number different prevent an IP address conflict with the router but places
your computer and the router on the same network. Under "Subnet mask," type in
""this is the subnet mask for your typical home network, and for
"Gateway" type in the default IP of the routerin this example it would be the
"" address.
You now have your computer on the same network as the router. You can now open a
browser and enter the router's IP address. Just type the router number into your
address bar, like this: You will be prompted to enter a username
and password. This information is also available with your router's documentation.
Once you are in the management interface, you can manually setup your wireless
connection: the SSID, pass phrase, and security.
If you can't browse to the router's interface, you may have made a typo. Recheck your
network settings under "TCP/IP v4" properties once more.

3. The Wireless Network's Name/SSID Disappeared

The Problem: All of a sudden, your SSID or Wi-Fi network name is no longer listed
when you click to see available wireless networks. There are various reasons this
might happen, and it's not an uncommon occurrence.
Quick Fix: Force your computer or device to connect to the router even if it's not
broadcasting. From Windows, go into Control Panel|Network and Internet|Network
and Sharing|Manage Wireless Networks.

If you see your wireless network listed, right-click on its icon and click Properties.
Check the option "Connect even if the network is not broadcasting its name (SSID)."
If you don't see your wireless network listed, click "Add" then select "Manually
connect to a wireless network" and put your wireless information in.
Mac users: You can also "force-join" an SSID that has stopped broadcasting through a
Mac's Airport Utility. Select to join "Other" and type in the name of the network and
Of course, you still want to find out why your SSID stopped broadcasting. Check to
make sure broadcasting was not inadvertently disabled in the router's software,
reboot the router, and check for any software updates.

4. My Internet Connection Keeps Dropping

The Problem: You are happily surfing the Internet and every now and then the
connection drops. Perhaps you see the light flicker down to nothing on your
broadband cable modem and then suddenly all LEDs light up again.
Quick Fix: This is a common issue, particularly for those with cable Internet service
or FIOS. You wouldnt believe how often this problem is caused by a degraded signal
coming into the cable modem. If you use splitters, try replacing them. If you have
several splitters on an inbound cable connection, say one coming into your home and
another to break out the cable signal in your home entertainment system, check to
see if they are -7dB splitters (printed on the outside of the splitter). Try replacing a
-7dB splitter that your broadband modem is connected to with a -3.5 dB splitter,
which may decrease signal loss. Also, if you happen to have three splitter and you are
not using the third connection, try replacing it with a two-way splitter.

5. When I Move to Another Room in the House, the WiFi Signal

The Problem: In your living room, your wireless connection is fine. Move into
another room and the signal becomes weak or nonexistent.
Quick Fix: There are several things that could cause a wireless signal to drop. The big
culprit is interference. Cordless phones and any device using the 2.4GHz band could
be the cause. Even things you couldn't imagine could cause interference, including
mirrors and glass. Once you've checked for physical interference, test something: Do
all your devices and computers lose signal at the same location, or just one in
particular? If all, chances are the problem lies with the router. Consider external
antenna for the router and also check for router firmware updates. If one specific
machine is dropping the signal, update that machine's wireless client adapter or
upgrade the adapter altogether.

6. Port Forwarding Does Not Work

The Problem: You want to run an application that requires a specific port on your
network to be open. You follow the directions that the app developers provide only to
get the error, "Port closed."
Quick Fix: Usually, this isn't a problem with a user's configuration. It's a problem on
the Internet service provider's side. ISPs will often block ports to strengthen your

network against hackers and intruders. Before frantically going through your
configuration steps again, check to make sure the port you are setting up for
forwarding is not blocked by your ISP. Use a tool like the Open Port Check Tool to
see if the port you need opened is being blocked. If so, contact your ISP.

7. I Forgot the Password to My Router

The Problem: You forgot the password to manage your router. Period.
Quick Fix: You have to reset the router back to its factory default settings. You'll lose
all your configuration settings made on the router. On the back of most routers is a
recessed button labeled "Reset." Using a paper clip, hold this button in until the LEDs
on the router blink (the amount of time you need to hold the reset button may vary
from router to router, so check the documentation). This will reset the router back to
factory settings, enabling you to use the default username and password again. Also,
many current routers allow you to save the configuration settings so you don't have to
reconfigure after performing a factory reset, so check to see if your router has that

8. The Router Shuts Itself Off

The Problem: After having a router for a while, you notice that every now and then it
shuts itself off.
Quick Fix: This is usually caused by overheating. Many of us leave our routers
running 24/7. As it ages, the router can become more inefficient at cooling. Check to
ensure the cooling vents on the router are not obstructed. Unplug the router for a bit.
Use a can of compressed air to clear out as much dust as you can from the vents.
Newer routers have energy efficient settings that let you specify when it should shut
the wireless radio off or power down, such as after 30 minutes of being idle. If your
router doesnt have this feature, best practice is to turn it off when its not being used
to extend its life.

9. I can't connect my new wireless gadget to my router.

You have a router thats been working fine. Your laptop and your computer can
connect it without any problems. But when you get a new iPad, tablet or handheld
game for the holidays, sometimes that new device just won't connect. You know it's
not a problem with the router, so what's going on?

Quick Fix: When a new device won't connect to a router that you know is working the
first thing you want to check is make sure there isnt a problem with the device. Check
to make sure you can connect the device to another network, maybe a wireless
hotspot. If the problem remains, check to make sure your device is connecting to the
right wireless signal on your router, if you have a dual-band router.
Dual-band routers transmit signals at two bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Some routers
will use the same SSID for each band and then some devices can connect
automatically to the correct band. Almost all tablets, e-readers, gaming systems, and
so on can connect to the 2.4 GHz band. Some newer wireless devices can connect to 5
Whenever I set up a router, I like to make sure I create different SSIDs for the 2.4 and
5 GHz bands. This way I can control which device connects to which band. For
example, if I set up a Linksys dual-band router, I can name the 2.4 GHz band
"Linksys_24" and the 5 GHz band "Linksys_5."
It's important to know at which band specific devices can connect. For instance, the
iPhone 4S only supports the 2.4 GHz band. Motorola's Droid Razr, the non-LTE
version, support both 2.4 and 5 GHz.

To see a listing of Wi-Fi support for the hottest wireless devices, check outThe Wi-Fi
You Need for the Gadgets You Want. If you don't see your device listed, or are not
sure about the wireless compatibility, contact the device's manufacturer.

10. My friend gave me his router, but it doesn't work on my network.

Quick fix: If you happen to inherit a previously used router, you most likely won't be
able to connect it to your broadband connection and just start using it. The best way
to set up a previously configured router is to reset it back to factory default (usually
by pressing the reset button underneath or on the back of the router). You can then
check the router manufacturer's website to find out the default IP address, username
and password or download any available set up software to configure the router for
your network.

11. I can't stream multimedia files from my laptop to my phone.

Quick fix: Streaming files such as videos and music from one device on a network to
another is one of the most common networking tasks home users want to do. Because
of standard in wireless technology, it's easy to stream files from computers, set-top
boxes and multimedia players to clients such as smartphones and tablets.
If you are having problems streaming, there are two settings you want to make sure
are enabled on the router: UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) and DLNA (Digital Living
Network Alliance). UPnP allows networked devices to discover one another. Newer
routers and devices also use DLNA for easy streaming between devices. Both can be
enabled through a router's interface, typically in the router's management or
advanced features page.

12. My network is just so... slow!

If you are still having issues, there are a couple of other troubleshooting tips. Pay
attention to what is slow in your network. Is it internally slowtransferring files
among computers, for exampleor is it browsing the Internet that's slow? Is
streaming from one device to another painfully slow? Look into updating firmware on
all affected devices, or if possible adding a more powerful USB wireless adapter to a
slow laptop or notebook, if they are one of the culprits.

If Internet access is slow, check to make sure you are getting near the bandwidth
promised by your ISP. Use multiple speed test tools such,, andAT&T's speedtest to get different results to
compare. Keep track of bandwidth at different times of the day and night as well as
weekdays and weekends. Contact your ISP for further troubleshooting if you are not
seeing the bandwidth you are supposed to receive from your ISP.