Internet, Networking, & Security Home Networking Common Home Network Problems New home network headaches usually have simple solutions By Bradley Mitchell Writer An MIT graduate who brings years of technical experience to articles on SEO, computers, and wireless networking. our editorial process LinkedIn Bradley Mitchell Updated December 10, 2019 SolStock / E+ / Getty Images Home Networking The Wireless Connection Routers & Firewalls Network Hubs ISP Broadband Ethernet Installing & Upgrading Wi-Fi & Wireless Tweet Share Email Computer networks connect the home both to the outside world and between devices within the home. Networks provide internet access, the ability to share files and printers, additional home entertainment options, and so on. Though home networking technology has advanced considerably and has become much easier to use, home network technology can pose challenges. Where does one start when first setting up a home network? Things often don't work right the first time, so how do you troubleshoot? Sometimes, people settle for an inferior setup and never realize the full potential of their home network. The advice below will help you steer clear of these common problems. Can't Decide Which Network Gear You Need Networks can be built with different combinations of hardware and software. The sheer number of choices can be overwhelming to beginners and may decide on the first solution they find. However, setups that meet the needs of some families just won't cut it for others. When you're shopping for components, carefully consider the needs of your home environment and don't let yourself be talked into something for 10 computers if you really only need connections for three. Perhaps you need a dongle like a Chromecast instead of another laptop computer. Network Won't Reach Certain Areas In many homes, networks — wireless and wired — won't conveniently reach all of the areas a person might need access to. Stringing network cables to distant rooms of the home can prove impractical, for example, and even with wireless networks, Wi-Fi radio signals may not reach corner bedrooms, a study or a porch. Be strategic when planning where your modem or router is located in the home, and be ready to make a few concessions in your network installation plan. Thousands of home network layouts exist, yours can be something different. Computers Can't See Each Other on the Network You've finished connecting all your network gear, but nothing works. Devices can't see each other or connect to the printer, for example. Maybe the printer itself is offline. No error messages are being displayed. You're developing a sneaking suspicion that your network is laughing at you. Relax. Take a step-by-step approach to this problem, and your network will be up and running soon. There are lots of resources and tutorials on Lifewire, including methods for connecting two computers, setting up an ad-hoc wireless network, Computers Can't Get on the Internet Even when all of the devices in a home can communicate with each other, they may still fail to reach websites on the internet. This, too, is a common problem when first installing a home network. After a simple check of the key network components, you'll be surfing again in no time. Devices Won't Join the Network Many home networks have a will have a computer or device such as an iPad that will not connect to the network. The device could be a specialized piece of hardware like a game console, or it could be a lone wireless computer trying to join a wired network. It could even be a computer running an old version of Microsoft Windows or running Linux. Whatever the situation, extra care and attention may be required to get your device to play well with others. Network Is Slow For several reasons, a home network might not run fast enough to keep up with a family's needs. They may experience very slow web downloads, sluggish or unplayable network games, interminable delays in online chatting/IM applications, and have difficulty streaming content like videos or music. This is known as network latency and the problem can be frustratingly difficult to pin down. Network Connections Drop Unexpectedly A home network may operate flawlessly for a day, a week or a month, but suddenly, at the most inopportune time, something breaks. You may have been happily listening to an internet radio station, streaming a TV show, or playing a networked game at home, and then…nothing. What happened? There are several possibilities. Don't be surprised if this happens to you. Network Is Not Secure Many home networks suffer from a lack of sufficient security, which is a risk to your data privacy. Too many homeowners fail to take a few essential steps to protect their network from attacks by outsiders. Network attacks and hacks are real threats; they happen every day and affect real families. Don't let them happen to yours!