With the proliferation ofsmart home devices,cloud games, evideo streaming services, maintaining a good Internet connection is more important than ever. If you're experiencing lag when playing League of Legends, or if it takes forever to download music, there's a good chance the problem is on your end and not an issue with your Internet Service Provider. Before scheduling a service call with your cable company, check out our tips for troubleshooting your Internet connection.
1. Try another device or website
Start with the obvious: Is the problem happening on just one device or on all your devices? If your computer is having problems, check if your tablet or someone else's laptop can connect to the Internet. If the problem only occurs on one device, then you can safely narrow the problem down to that specific machine.
If a specificwebsite does not load, try another site. If you can visit other sites without any problems, chances are the problem is with the site you're trying to visit and you'll have to wait for them to fix things. Try typing the website address indownforeveryoneorjustme.com(opens in a new window)ordowndetector.com(opens in a new window)to see if there is a known service interruption.
If there is no known outage, it could be a problem with your browser's cache. You might want to try visiting the site in aprivate browsing windowor from a different browser to see if that fixes the connection issue. And clean your browsercacheecookies.
2. Check Wi-Fi settings
Check the Wi-Fi signal icon in the bottom right corner in Windows and in the top right corner in macOS. Click on the icon and verify that you are connected to the proper SSID. Otherwise, you might accidentally be connected to the wrong network by default.
Windows users can change theconnection priorityor right-click on a network and selectTo forget. On a Mac, openSystem Preferences > Network > Advancedand uncheck all unwanted networks in the Auto-Join column.
If you're connected to the right network and you're still having problems, Windows can help you diagnose the problem. Right-click on the network icon in the system tray and selectSolve problemsto run the Windows network diagnostics routine. This can sometimes fix common problems by resetting the adapter.
You can also check your network adapter settings atNetwork and Sharing Centerin the Control Panel to make sure the adapter is using the correct gateway address and other settings.
3. Check your Internet package
If your internet is working but is slower than expected, go to a site likeSpeedtest.net(opens in a new window)and do a speed test. You will get a number in megabits per second denoting how fast your computer is actually experiencing. From there, go to your ISP's website and verify your account.
If your account number is the same as your speed test, you are getting the correct speeds you paid for. If that seems too slow, you'll need to upgrade to something faster. If your speed test is significantly slower than the speed you paid for, then you really are having problems and should continue troubleshooting.
4. Check for viruses
AVG AntiVirus for Mac
Sometimes your Internet connection can be affected by malicious code on your computer.Spyware,virus, emalwareeach can have a significant impact on your web browsing speed and overall system performance. If nothing else makes sense, run a virus scan to be sure.
Windows comes withWindows Defenderbuilt-in, whichcan do the job well, although there are manybookand paid utilities available as well. And yes, even if you have a Mac, you should still invest in a good one.antivirus software- despite what you may have heard, they are not immune to infection.
5. Ignore your DNS server
When you type a website into your browser, your computer looks for theIP addressfrom this site using aDomain name system server. Occasionally, these servers may experience issues, making it difficult to visit websites using their friendly domain names (such as PCMag.com).
It's like having a working phone with no contact list - you technically have the ability to call people, but you don't know anyone's number.
You can try to fix the problemclearing your DNS cache. Sometimes these things get stuck and restarting can help. Otherwise, you canchange DNS serverdirectly, either on an individual device or at the router level, affecting everything on the network.
6. Decode the flashing lights
If you are unable to connect to the Internet, take a look at your modem and router. Both should have some LED status indicators - if none of them are lit, the modem or router is probably disconnected or turned off. Unplug the power cord — if you have one router or the other, unplug both — and plug the modem back in after a minute or two.
Make sure the power switch is in the On position, if present. Once the lights are on, plug in your router (if applicable) and wait for it to boot as well. If you still don't see the lights after plugging them in, it could be a faulty power adapter, a faulty power strip, or a fried router.
SesomeSome of the lights are on, but some aren't - or are blinking repeatedly - you'll want to take a closer look at what they're saying. For example, if your modem's lights are blinking instead of steady, it may not be able to find an Internet connection, necessitating a new modem (or a call to your ISP).
If your router's network light is on but the Wi-Fi lights are not, you may need to press the Wi-Fi button on the side or turn Wi-Fi on your device back on.setup menu. Check your modem and/or router documentation to diagnose what these lights are saying.
7. Who else is using the Internet?
It's possible that everything is working correctly, but a program on your PC – or someone else in the house – is consuming all your bandwidth. On Windows, open the Task Manager by pressingCtrl + Shift + Escand click onNetworkcolumn to sort by network usage. On a Mac, open pressCommand + Spaceto open Spotlight, type "Activity Monitor" and go to Activity MonitorNetworkaba.
If a certain app is using a lot of bandwidth, like if you are downloading a large file, you might just need to wait until the process completes or cancel it to get your fast internet again. If you don't see any obvious culprits, see if anyone in the house is downloading a large file to their machine and tell them to stop.
If anyone is using a game streaming service, make suremonopolize all bandwidthon the network. There's also always the chance that a neighbor is stealing your WiFi. We have instructions on how tosee who's on your networkAnd how do you expel them?
8. Get a better signal
Google Nest Wi-Fi
If you are using Wi-Fi then there are many issues that can slow down your connection. Try connecting your computer directly to the router with an Ethernet cable. If this fixes the problem, your Wi-Fi signal is bad enough to degrade your internet speed.
Check the Wi-Fi icon on your computer: how many bars do you have? If you are running low on bars, you may need to move your router to a more central location in your home or purchase one.extensor wifi. (If you already have a Wi-Fi extender, it might just be a crappy one - amesh systemwill probably do a better job).
If you have full bars, but there are a lot of Wi-Fi networks in your building, it could be very congested and changing channels or using the 5GHz band can help solve the problem. check outour guide to boosting your Wi-Fi signalfor more tricks to improve reception.
9. Update your firmware
Firmware is the low-level embedded software that runs your modem, router, and other networking hardware. Most vendors provide downloadable firmware updates that can resolve performance issues, add new features, and increase speed. If there is a known issue with your router, it's possible that an update will fix things.
Look for the Firmware Update Tool in the System section of the router's settings and follow the instructions carefully to ensure you are installing the correct firmware version. Do not download firmware from a third-party website.
10. Clear your settings
If you previously changed any settings on your router and now there is a problem, try resetting your router to its factory default settings. For most routers, this involves pressing a small reset button on the back panel and holding it down for several seconds until the LED lights start flashing.
After resetting, you can log in to the web interface and configure it from scratch, just as if you were plugging it in for the first time. Just be careful not to enable the same setting that caused the problem in the first place.
11. Upgrade to a faster router
If you only had one computer at home, you could connect it directly to the modem with an Ethernet
If you're using an older 802.11b or 802.11g router, consider upgrading to a newer, more powerful one, especially if you have multiple computers, smartphones, and other devices competing for bandwidth.
A dual-band router gives you two radio bands to choose from and allows you to dedicate one band to bandwidth-hungry clients such as video streaming devices and game consoles. A tri-band gives you three bands and can support even more activity on your network.
In addition, newer routers employ the latest technologies to provide fast throughput with improved Wi-Fi range. The latest router standard is 802.11ax, also known aswifi 6, and its improved versionWiFi 6E. Check our list ofbest wireless routerswhen you're ready to dive in.
12. Head to the Source
A coaxial cable splitter (Credit: RadioShack)
If troubleshooting your modem and router doesn't help, the problem may be coming from a more distant point. Inspect the connection going into your home. This is usually located on the side of your home and may or may not be housed in an enclosure. Make sure the main cable hasn't been chewed up by squirrels or knocked down in a storm.
If you see a cable splitter, check that each connection is secure and that the connectors are properly crimped. If the splitter looks suspicious (i.e. rusty or dirty), try replacing it. Cheap splitters can also degrade signal strength, so if you don't need to split the signal, try getting rid of it altogether.
13. Last resort: dial your ISP
If you've tried everything and you're still experiencing Internet connection issues, it's time to call your service provider. The problem may be on their end and may require a new connection to the pole that goes into your house or new equipment such as a better modem or amplifier.
If you're experiencing slowdowns at certain times of the day (think after-hours), it's possible your ISP simply can't handle the increased user load; in that case, you might want to find a new service provider. Lucky for you, we tested them to find thefastest providers in the country.
Disclosure: Downdetector and Speedtest.net are owned by Ookla, a subsidiary of PCMag's parent company, Ziff Davis.
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Sometimes your cable modem and router need a reboot/restart. See if this fixes the connection issues. Check your Ethernet cables. If you have a spare Ethernet cable, test it out to make sure there isn't a problem with the physical wire connection.How do I get my internet back online? ›
- Restart your equipment. ...
- Connect with an Ethernet cable. ...
- Check for an internet outage. ...
- Try using a different device. ...
- Check your wires and cables. ...
- Run your computer's internet troubleshooter. ...
- Reposition your router/gateway. ...
- Update everything.
- Delete & re-add network.
- Check for problem apps.
- Restart the router & modem.
- Sign in to a public network.
- Reset all network settings.
- Check that hotspot is on.
- Contact your mobile carrier.
Sometimes your cable modem and router need a reboot/restart. See if this fixes the connection issues. Check your Ethernet cables. If you have a spare Ethernet cable, test it out to make sure there isn't a problem with the physical wire connection.How do I reset my Wi-Fi online? ›
- Find your router's IP address.
- Type the address into your browser.
- Log in using your username and password.
- Find the factory reset option (usually found under Settings or System).
Reset Your Modem and Router (Power Cycle)
Leave the devices unplugged for 30 seconds, then plug the modem back in followed by the router. Give them both time to boot up and connect by watching the activity lights (usually 1 to 5 minutes). Then try connecting to the Internet again on your computer or connected device.
Turn off Wi-Fi on your computer to ensure you're connecting to the internet via ethernet. Open Google Search and type "internet speed test," and select Run Speed Test. If the resulting download and upload speeds are far below what you should be getting, this may indicate a failing modem.Will unplugging my router reset it? ›
To manually reboot your router, unplug it (you can remove the power cord from the wall outlet OR from the power port on the back of the router). Wait one minute, and plug it back in.How long does it take for a router to reconnect to the Internet? ›
A router can boot up from the off or standby condition in less than a minute, however, a router reboot should take between 5 and 10 minutes overall. This gives the devices enough time to cool down and flush their memory, but also enough time to boot back up and reconnect to all of the devices.How do I force my Wi-Fi to reconnect? ›
Make your way to your “Start” button and restart your computer. Once your computer has rebooted, navigate back to the Wi-Fi icon on your taskbar and click it. Choose your Wi-Fi network from the pop-up menu and check the box next to where it says, “Connect Automatically.” Now click “Connect.”
Step One: Confirm Whether Your Internet Provider Is Down
If all your devices get no internet connection, yet your WiFi indicator is still on, the most obvious answer is that your internet provider has an outage. Before you start rebooting and shuffling wires around, it's always a good idea to check this first.
Should all the lights on my modem be green? The power light, downstream indicator, upstream indicator, online indicator, and link light on your modem should all be green. If your power light is yellow, it may be upgrading, so leave the modem on and give it a little time to do its thing.