Most homes depend on a router for internet access. Routers transmit wireless (and wired) signals around the house from the modem and also help protect your home with a sturdy firewall.
But when something goes wrong with your router, fixing the problem can be very painful – especially since you may not be able to read help articles on the internet to even solve your problem.
Well, we’re here to help. Here is a seven step checklist that should help fix your router’s problems – whatever they may be. Perform these steps in order because the majority of problems will be fixed by the first few steps:
1) Turn your router on/off
Turning your router on and off is an excellent way to fix your router problems. In fact, even most computer illiterate people about this tech tip. Before turning your router off and on, make sure all the cables are connected properly – especially the power cable. If there’s a lot of movement around your PC, it doesn’t take much for one of these cables to come loose.
2) Dial directly into the source of your internet
If step one didn’t solve your router problems, it’s time to get a little more serious. Ignore your router for a minute and plug your PC directly into your internet source – like your modem. This will tell you if your house is receiving an internet signal at all. It might not be. If you get internet connected directly to the source, but not through your router, then you’ve narrowed down the problem to your router.
If, on the other hand, you don’t get internet through your internet source, then that is a problem for your ISP to solve. Call your ISP and ask them to send all units immediately! A missing internet connection is a serious emergency.
3) Check the LAN port on your router
Wireless networks are notoriously troublesome. Something as simple as a microwave could be messing up your wireless signal – especially if you’re using an older router. Grab an Ethernet cable (like the one you used in step 2) and connect directly to your LAN port on your router. All wireless routers have LAN ports. If your LAN port is working, then the problem lies with the wireless network settings of your router.
4) Check router settings
No matter what step 3 told you, it’s time to check the router settings. If the LAN port worked in step 3, then you should focus your search on the wireless network settings. If the LAN port did not work, then you’ll have to look at all the settings on your router.
To access your router, open your internet browser and type in one of the following IP addresses (most routers use the first one):
That will bring you to your router configuration screen, where you’ll most likely have to enter a password. If you’re smart, you wrote down your password in your router’s manual or you can remember it off the top of your head. If you’ve never been to this screen before in your life, then you might have to look at this list of default router password combinations to find the one that works for your router.
Once you’re into the router settings, everybody’s router looks different. If you recently changed router settings, you should obviously reverse those changes. If you haven’t changed anything, and you don’t want to spend too much time messing around with router settings, then just look for a factory reset button. That will move your router back to its default settings and will most likely fix whatever settings-specific problems you were experiencing.
5) Check router channels
Remember up above when I said a microwave could interfere with your wireless network? That’s not usually true in 2013, but there are other common household items that can definitely interfere with your wireless signal, including:
-Garage door openers
-Any other devices that operate on the same wireless band as your router
Many phones operate on the 2.4GHz wireless band, for example. Look around your house and look for items that may be causing problems. If you have multiple items on the same frequency, it will cause signals to bounce around, which will disrupt your connection and lead to weird errors – like experiencing slow internet when someone is using the phone.
6) Update router firmware
Updating router firmware sounds a lot more difficult than it actually is. In many cases, your router manufacturer will offer a free router upgrade for download on its website, and then all you have to do is open your router admin settings and upload the file from your PC. It will install the upgrade automatically.
Updating router firmware can have a significant impact on performance and security – especially if you’re using an older router. It’s never a bad idea to upgrade router firmware, and it may very well fix whatever problem you’re experiencing.
To start the router firmware upgrade, search for your manufacturer-specific instructions on Google.
7) Last chance steps
So nothing else worked, eh? Well, there are a few things you could try before stomping your router into oblivion. Try these tips:
-Move your router to a different part of the home
-Call your router manufacturer’s support helpline
-Hit the factory reset button on your router settings menu (this button can also be found on the back of your router. Just look for a small hole that you can fit a pin or similar object inside.
-Buy a new router. They’re not that expensive ($50 to $100) and they may provide a big boost to internet speed. In many cases, this is easier than spending a full day sweating over your PC trying to salvage an ancient router.