Check the Network Connection Status of Wireless Devices

woman using smartphone on couch
MoMo Productions / Getty Images

Anyone who uses network devices eventually encounters the situation where their device wasn't connected as they had thought. Wireless devices can drop their link suddenly and sometimes without warning for many reasons including signal interference and technical glitches. A person can follow the same steps to get connected successfully every day for months, but then one day things suddenly stop working.

Unfortunately, the method for checking your network connection status varies greatly depending on the specific device involved.


Smartphones feature both their cellular and Wi-Fi connection status via special icons inside a bar at the top of the main screen. These icons typically display a variable number of vertical bars, with more bars being visible indicating a stronger signal (higher-quality connection). Android phones sometimes also incorporate flashing arrows into the same icon indicating when data transfers across the connection are happening. Icons for Wi-Fi work similarly on phones and typically indicate signal strength by showing more or fewer bands. A Settings app typically allows you to also view more details about the connections and initiate disconnects. You may also optionally install various other third-party apps that report on wireless connections and issues.

Laptops, PCs and other Computers

Each computer operating system contains built-in connection management utilizes. On Microsoft Windows, for example, the Network and Sharing Center displays status for both wired and wireless networks. On both Windows and also Google’s Chrome O/S for Chromebooks, the status bars (typically located in bottom-right corner of the screen) include icons for visually representing connection status. Some people prefer to install third-party applications that offer similar features through alternative user interfaces.


The administrator console of a network router captures details of both a network router’s connection to the outside world, plus links for any devices on the LAN connected to it. Most routers also feature lights (LEDs) that indicate connection status for its Internet (WAN) link plus any wired links. If your router is located in a place where it’s easy to see the lights, taking time to learn how to interpret their colors and flashes can be a helpful time saver.

Game Consoles, Printers and Home Appliances

Beyond routers, an increasing number of consumer devices feature built-in wireless support intended for use on home networks. Each kind tends to require its own special method for setting up connections and checking their status. Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation and other game consoles offer on-screen “Setup” and “Network” graphical menus. Smart TVs also feature similar large, on-screen menus. Printers provide either text-based menus on their small local displays, or a remote interface to check status from a separate computer. Some home automation devices like thermostats may also feature small screen displays, while some others offer only lights and/or buttons.

When You Should Check Wireless Connections

Deciding on the right time to check your connection is equally important as knowing how to do it. The need becomes obvious when an error message appears on your screen, but in many cases you not receive a direct notification. Consider checking your connection whenever you start troubleshooting issues with applications that crash or suddenly stop responding. Particularly if roaming while using a mobile device, your movement may cause the network to drop out.

Was this page helpful?