How to Fix it When Your Wi-Fi Network Is Not Showing Up

What to do when you can't connect to wireless

When you can't connect to the internet because your Wi-Fi doesn't show up on your device, you have a problem. It helps if you know the cause, but you can take steps to remedy the situation even if you don't.

Causes for 'Wireless Network Not Showing Up' Issues

Problems with your router, ISP, or device could prevent your Wi-Fi network from showing up in the list of available networks. A few of the reasons that cause Wi-Fi connection problems include:

  • Device not in router's range: Your device must be within the router's range. In most homes, that can be up to 30 feet from the router. You may be able to connect up to 50 feet away, but the speed is slower, and the connection often drops.
  • Router not restored correctly: The router might not have been properly restored after losing power or being unplugged.
  • Network adapter turned off/disabled: The Wi-Fi connection problem isn't always caused by the router; your device could be the culprit. If a restart doesn't help, your network adapter could be disabled, or its drivers may need updating. 
  • Virus: If your device has a virus, it could block your ability to connect to Wi-Fi. A quick virus scan and restart could help.
  • Object interference: Large appliances, thick walls, or other wireless devices can interfere with your wireless connection.

Wi-Fi not showing up can be caused by these and more issues. Troubleshooting to find the problem is the key to fixing it.

Fix Wi-Fi Network Not Showing Up

Try these troubleshooting steps in order until you resolve your issue. They are listed from easiest to most complex.

  1. Troubleshoot your wireless connection. Before you begin trying to fix your Wi-Fi, make sure there is no problem with the device you are trying to connect.

    If the issue is that your Wi-Fi network is not showing up on your laptop, for example, take a few minutes to make sure everything on the computer is as it should be. Are all cables connected to the device? Are they plugged in to a working outlet? Are you sure the Wi-Fi on the device is turned on? (This could be a physical switch, an internal setting, or both.) Ruling out the basics like this is the first place to start.

  2. Properly restart the modem and router. Power cycling the router and modem can fix internet connectivity issues and resolve problems with wireless connections. It is important to reboot both the modem and the wireless router.

  3. Check your network settings. The network could be hidden. Hiding a wireless network can be an effective way to protect privacy. However, it could result in the Wi-Fi network not showing up on a device. To connect with a hidden network, the SSID and other network details are required.

    Access the Wi-Fi settings to add the network.

  4. Look for interference. Interference is one of the many reasons Wi-Fi connections drop. Numerous objects around a home or office can interfere with a wireless router. Check for potential issues, such as appliances, microwaves or fluorescent lights, other wireless devices including wireless video game controllers or security cameras, and thick walls or columns.

    Neighboring wireless networks could also interfere with your own. Changing your Wi-Fi channel number could resolve the issue.

  5. Check with your ISP (Internet Service Provider). If your troubleshooting efforts do not fix the problem, contact your internet service provider. There could be an area-wide issue of which you are unaware, or there might be a defect in the equipment provided by the company.

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