It’s up, it’s down; your wireless Internet just won’t stay connected. Why is it that your wireless network or your computer’s wireless network interface card can not acquire or maintain a decent connection?
Perhaps it’s nothing to do with the hardware? Could it be Windows that is causing the problems with your wireless Internet connection? Let’s look at ways you can fix this.
Test Your Wireless Bandwidth & Speed
Is your wireless connection really poor? If you’re experiencing regular dropouts then this is clearly a problem, but you should test the bandwidth and speed of your Internet connection to establish just what is causing disconnections.
Test Your Bandwidth
For instance, there is a chance that some other device is eating up your bandwidth. If your computer or device is situated relatively close to the router, the connection is strong but the speed low, this is probably the reason.
Improve Network Speed
Other things might be slowing your home network. For instance, the quality of the cable from the router to the wall might have deteriorated. While we’re talking about cables, remember that a good quality CAT-5E cable is superior to a wireless connection. Before making any real changes to your wireless Internet setup, the best thing you can do is run an Internet speed test and use our tips to assess just what you can improve.
Weak Wireless Connections Fixed
The list of reasons why your wireless connection isn’t working correctly could be as long as your arm, or as short as your thumb. In most cases only one (occasionally two) things are at the root of the issue.
Check Power Settings
Power management issues, where Windows automatically powers down or even shuts off your wireless connection when on battery power, or when your computer goes to sleep or the monitor switches off, can often be to blame.
Update Wireless Drivers
Just as common, however, is a problem with the wireless driver. Resolving this should be a case of using Windows Update, which you can access by opening the Action Centre from the System Tray (Windows 8/.1) or the Control Panel via the Start Menu (Windows 7) and clicking Windows Update. From here, check the available updates, looking out for anything related to your wireless card. If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to visit the website for your wireless card manufacturer and download the most up-to-date driver for your device.
Installing it will either be a case of running and waiting for the wizard to do its work, or the download will extract the relevant files into a folder on your C:\ drive. In this scenario, you’ll need to open Device Manager (Windows key + R, type devmgmt.msc and click OK), expand Network adapters, identify your wireless device, right-click and select Update Driver Software….
You’ll be prompted to browse for the new driver, so use the files you extracted and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.
Meanwhile if you’re a Windows 8 user and have experienced some wireless networking issues, we’ve put together some tips for fixing Windows 8 wireless problems.
Use a Dual Band Router
Router manufacturers are increasingly adding dual band functioanlity, which can overcome wireless networking issues, especially if you live in a residential block with various wireless routers vying for signal strength supremacy. If you think your signal should be more reliable than it is, but often find yourself only able to find your neighbour’s network, a dual band router is a good solution, as they broadcast on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies.
It’s worth mentioning that accidentally switching your wireless card off can also be the problem. Laptops often have a function key combination to switch the device into airplane mode, or to simply disable Wi-Fi; some older notebooks also have a physical switch to enable and disable wireless.
Change the Wi-Fi Channel
One of the oldest tricks for improving wireless network signal strength is to change the Wi-Fi channel. Slow wireless speed can often be blamed on competing wireless networks, as described above, so changing your Wi-Fi channel manually rather than relying on automatic switching (which can be unreliable at best) can be a massive improvement. To do this you’ll need to log into your wireless router through your web browser, open the advanced settings and select the channel with the strongest signal.
Does Your Home Have a Wireless Blind Spot?
One common cause of problematic wireless connections is the design of your home, and the layout of your furniture. As explained by Ryan, it is possible to overcome many blind spots using a feng shui-inspired approach to optimize wireless reception. However, in order to have success with this, you’ll first need to establish where your blind spots are, which can take some time. Often there is more than one.
Even if you do find the blind spots, also known as dead zones, you’ll have your work cut out if your property doesn’t allow for flexibility with the layout. We’ve already shown you a way around this, however; eliminating dead zones is relatively straightforward if you know what you’re doing.
Boosting Your Wireless Internet Signal
Perhaps your home doesn’t have blind spot; you just receive a perpetually weak signal. The solution here goes beyond wireless feng shui, and into the realms of common sense and logic, things like replacing your computer’s wireless card (perhaps in favour of a USB device), replacing or enhancing the antenna on your router (although many modern routers have integrated antennae) or simply moving your router into a better position.
As you can see, wireless signals can drop for many reasons, and many different fixes are currently used to overcome these problems. Luckily, they don’t affect everyone, so if you’re unfortunate enough to be experiencing wireless connectivity issues in Windows, you should find that with a reboot and a few minutes of patience that you have fixed the problem yourself.
Do you have any wireless issues that persist after reading the solutions linked to here? Tell us about your problem in the comments box.