With so many jobs being fully remote, stable WiFi connections have moved to the forefront of people’s minds. Nothing is quite as frustrating as your video buffering during an important meeting or pages not loading when you’re on a deadline. And when it comes to troubleshooting, it can be hard to know where to start or to know why your WiFi keeps disconnecting.
Why does my WiFi keep disconnecting?
While connection issues can be caused by larger problems that need to be addressed, sometimes it’s an easy fix. In this article, we will run through a few of the most common causes of disconnecting WiFi and some quick home solutions. Check out the CenturyLink Support Center for additional articles and details about internet performance and troubleshooting.
If these quick solutions aren’t working, and you just want the best signal possible during a meeting, there are several tricks for improving the quality of your meeting. Try turning off your video, especially if you’re sharing your screen. Or, instead of screen sharing, you could use online collaborative documents and have everyone view the shared file synchronously.
Check your network speeds
The first step is to check the speed of your internet connection. It’s recommended that you start by testing your wired connection if possible. This will give you an idea of the service speed to your modem, which is also referred to as a “residential gateway” since most of the newer equipment is combined with the router into one piece. To get a wired speed, plug a compatible device directly into the modem with an Ethernet cable. As a rule, if you need the fastest connection to a particular device, remember that a wired connection (Ethernet) will always beat wireless because it is subject to less interference.
If a wired speed test doesn’t produce the results you were expecting, you might not have enough speed to meet your household’s needs. It could be that your network is simply overloaded with too many connected devices and a plan upgrade is in order.
If you are eligible, try upgrading to fiber internet, which is less likely to experience slowdowns because the cables are made up of glass, which is less likely to be impacted by electromagnetic interference.
Alternately, if you believe the issue may be service-related, run the Troubleshooter to look for connection problems, or to see if there are any service outages in your area.
Potential issues with your device
The most common, simplest fix to tech issues is restarting your device. Whether it’s a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or another device, a reboot can solve issues from slow connections to memory and software. Temporarily disconnecting from your network for several seconds can also help to reset things. Similarly, make sure your devices aren’t on airplane mode because this setting can block WiFi, Bluetooth, and data access.
Although it might sound obvious if you’re having trouble connecting, double-check that your device is connected to the right WiFi network. Lots of home networks have both a 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channel; the best signal will depend on how far away from your router your device is. Also, if there are unsecured WiFi networks in your vicinity, your device could be connecting to one of them by accident. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to create a unique network name and password for your network.
A good thing to do regularly is to delete your browsing cookies or cache. For directions specific to your browser, do a quick internet search or go to your browser’s settings and search “clear cache” or “delete cookies.”
Additionally, make sure your browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) and all web plug-ins are updated. You can use a third-party website to help you do a browser check. A device that is up to date generally runs smoother.
Another trick is to shut down any unneeded programs, apps, and internet browser tabs to free up memory and bandwidth on your device.
To have the best internet experience, routinely scan your computer for malware. Malware can cause problems with your browser and internet connection. Protect your data by regularly updating your antivirus or security software.
Although it is rarer, sometimes issues can be caused by outdated or missing network drivers on your computer. Check to see if they need to be updated. Or there may be an incompatible software package that was installed, but this is not a very common reason for poor signal. However, it might be the cause if your WiFi keeps dropping right after your install an update or other program. Uninstalling any incompatible software or reinstalling a program that’s been corrupted can fix this issue.
Potential issues with your router or “residential gateway”
When it comes to your residential gateway, start off by checking that everything is plugged in correctly. Cables wiggle lose all the time, causing connection issues. So take a minute to verify your equipment is set up correctly and no cables are broken.
Connectivity issues can also be caused be outdated firmware on your router. Your router’s software is updated over time to fix bugs and keep it running optimally. Make sure your router is updated with the latest firmware version. You should also try to regularly reboot your router, as doing so has numerous benefits. You might have to replace your router if your model has become obsolete.
Finally, make sure your router is in a place that has good air circulation and is away from heat sources. Excessive heat can cause it to work poorly or malfunction.
Potential issues with your wireless signal
The distance between the router and your device has a major impact on your WiFi connection speed and performance. Place your router in a central location and as close to your devices as possible. For better coverage, elevate your router on a bookcase or shelf.
Some household items can block signals, such as heavy metals like a stainless steel fridge or extremely solid materials like cement basement walls. Large containers of water like fish tanks, as well as thick windows and heavy furniture, can also obstruct your signal. Try keeping your wireless devices and modem away from these items. Somewhere around ten feet should be enough space. If that’s not possible, try keeping doors open between rooms or do what you can to have a clear path between the router and your most essential devices.
If your router is operating on 2.4 GHz, then there is a good chance that some items in your home are producing radio interference. That’s because they operate on the same frequency. This includes Bluetooth devices, smart TVs, microwaves, fans, copy machines, treadmills, baby monitors, and more.
Some of these devices can affect your WiFi even when they are turned off, potentially interfering with your WiFi. Thermostats, sprinklers, and garage doors are some examples of this. Large household speakers can also cause issues because they have huge magnets inside them. Opt for the 5 GHz network frequency if this is an option (for most newer routers it is). Or turn off and unplug the items above when you aren’t using them.
Finally, some people have success in changing the WiFi channel on the router. WiFi operates on an “unlicensed band,” which means any number of other wireless networks may interfere with yours. Most newer CenturyLink modems have a way to find the best WiFi channel for your household’s needs automatically. If you live in an area that overlaps with other networks, like an apartment building, changing the channel could positively impact your connectivity.
WiFi connectivity issues are frustrating, especially as WiFi integrates even more into the ways we work, shop, and live. While all the solutions mentioned above may seem overwhelming, most will take you only a few seconds to complete. If you take away just three tips, be sure to reboot regularly, keep your tech devices up to date, and place your router in the best location possibly. Find more troubleshooting tools and helpful related content on the CenturyLink Support Center.