How to Fix a Wi-Fi Router

Troubleshooting the most common Wi-Fi router problems

There are a number of issues you can have with your Wi-Fi router from not being able to connect to the router, to slow speeds when connected, to no internet connection at all.

However, if you know where to look and what to do based on the specific symptoms, it usually isn't difficult at all to fix a Wi-Fi router.

Many of the symptoms you may have can overlap. For example intermittent internet connection problems can appear as a slow connection. Follow the steps below from top to bottom to cancel out the more likely issues first, before moving on to the more complicated ones.

Cause of Wi-Fi Router Issues

Quite a few things can cause issues with your Wi-Fi router. The most common scenario is a wireless channel overcrowded by too many devices using too much bandwidth. The least likely scenario is a hardware failure with the router itself. There are also issues like malware on your device, a hacked router, and more.

How to Fix Slow Wireless Connections

The easiest way to troubleshoot whether your Wi-Fi router issues are caused by too many people using the network is by blocking all connections (except yours) and then running a speed test. The speed test will reveal whether the problem is on the ISPs side or yours.

  1. Connect to your router as an administrator. Make sure you use an ethernet cable to connect so you don't need a Wi-Fi connection to log in once you've blocked all wireless connections.

  2. Block all devices on your network. You can do this via the Access Control settings in your Router menu. Make sure to block all new devices from connecting, and then select and block all connected devices. Since you're connected via a network cable, this won't affect your connection.

  3. Run an internet connect speed test. Make sure you know what speed you should be getting under the plan you've purchased from your ISP. Since you're the only one connected, your speed should closely match what your plan says you should have. If not, you'll need to contact your ISP to help with troubleshooting the account since it's not your router.

  4. Lock down your router. Many people forget to change their router from the default settings so that it's secure and no one else can use your internet. If other people are connecting to your network, they're using your bandwidth, which will slow down your internet connection.

  5. Once you've finished all testing and locked down your router, perform a full restart of your router. Reconnect and enable Allow all new devices to connect again.

At this point, you've tested that you're getting the right speeds from your ISP. You've also secured your router so no one who doesn't have your wireless password can connect to your network. If you're still having Wi-Fi Router issues, then continue on to the next section.

Dealing With a Hacked Wi-Fi Router

Believe it or not, routers are small purpose-built computers and therefore can get viruses. This is especially true if you've never changed the admin password or provided a poor network login password.

Once hackers access your router they can change settings, open ports, and cause all sorts of problems. Thankfully, there are ways you can fix these issues even after your router has been infected.

  1. Reset your router to factor default. Performing a hard reset will put all important settings back to the default settings your ISP originally configured for the router. Always follow the 30-30-30 hard reset rule when performing a router reset.

  2. Repeat the section above to secure your router settings again, but take it a step further and make sure to disable WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) to add extra security.

  3. Change your router's IP address. This is important because some public IP addresses become known "soft" targets by hackers and get attacked more frequently than others. However, you can release and renew your router's IP address to get a new one. If you can't get your router's IP address to change, contact your ISP and ask for a new, fixed IP address.

  4. Buy a secondary, more secure router. Some wireless routers that ISPs provide to customers are a combination model and router, and security isn't always the greatest. You can turn off the Wi-Fi feature on your modem, and connect a more secure Wi-Fi router wired to the modem. Then set up your home Wi-Fi network with that more secure modem.

  5. Secure your network after a hack. After a router is infected, it's likely other devices on your network got infected to. Once you've cleaned and secured your router, make sure to scan and remove viruses from your Windows 10 PCs, Mac computers, and mobile phones.

Fix Other Wi-Fi Router Issues

If you've gotten this far and still can't connect to your router or you're having poor performance, there could be a variety of other issues going on.

  1. Change Wi-Fi channels on different devices. If all devices in your house are using the 5 GHz channel, there's a possibility of interference. Try changing your smart home devices and mobile phones to use 2.4 GHz, while leaving desktops and laptops using 5 GHz.

  2. Troubleshoot individual internet connections. If you've gotten this far and your router appears to be working fine but your internet connection is still bad, it could be an issue on individual devices. In this case, look into Wi-Fi connection issues specific to Windows 10, macOS, Android, or iOS devices.

  3. Consider router placement. A common mistake is placing a router at a corner of a house. This causes areas in the house with a weak Wi-Fi signal or spotty connections. Another solution if you have a large house is to boost your Wi-Fi signal either through better placement or buying hardware Wi-Fi boosters.

  4. Check your DHCP settings. Incorrect DHCP settings configured on a router can cause either intermittent or permanent connection issues. The DHCP range should match the gateway address.

  5. Check DNS servers on your router. Your router will have DNS server IP addresses configured. Make sure these haven't changed by asking your ISP technical support technician what those should be. You could also test by setting them to public DNS servers to see if this resolves your issues (which could mean there are issues with your ISPs DNS servers).

Did You Fix Your Wi-Fi Router?

Were you able to resolve your issues with your Wi-Fi router, or do connection issues still plague you? Don't be afraid to completely replace the device with a new one.

Ask what modem models your ISP supports and buy a new cable modem. If it's a combination modem and Wi-Fi router, there are many cable modem/router's on the market that offer premium security and ease of use.