How to diagnose a bad Wi-Fi connection

Network problems have been known to reduce my vocabulary to curses so strong they'd embarrass Quentin Tarantino.

Network problems are the thorniest to resolve. They've been known to reduce my vocabulary to curses so strong they'd embarrass Quentin Tarantino.

A big part of the challenge is figuring out where the problem lies. Although I can't promise a solution to B2CAC's particular problem (or anyone else's), I can suggest some simple tests that will help you isolate the cause. Once isolated, it will be easier to fix.

Move around the house. You may simply be trying in a room with a bad signal. Try accessing the network or the Internet from a room closer to the router. If this solves the problem, but you really need access when in the room where you couldn't get WiFi, consider buying a HomePlug device.

Run Windows' network diagnostic. To be honest, I've never seen this fix the problem in XP, but I have in Vista.

173816-1026icons_original

Right-click the tiny Network icon in the system tray and select Diagnose and repair (Vista) or Repair (XP). The icons on the left are approximations of the ones in the system tray--the ones on your PC may differ due to network status (for instance, they may have a tiny, red x). Keep your fingers crossed while Windows tries to find and correct the problem.

Try ethernet. Move the laptop into the same room as the router and connect it with an ethernet cable. If you still lack network and Internet access, the problem isn't with your WiFi. See How to Troubleshoot Your Home Network for further suggestions. (My thanks to mphenterprises for suggesting this fix in the original forum discussion.)

Turn off WiFi Security. Bad passwords and incompatible encryption standards cause a lot of WiFi problems, and temporarily turning off encryption will tell you if they're causing yours. I can't tell you exactly how to do this; check your router's manual for directions. You obviously don't want to keep your network unprotected for long, so you'll have to figure out what the problem is so you can turn encryption back on again. Make sure you're using the correct password and that your PC and router support the same encryption protocol.

173816-1026isecurityb_original

Try another WiFi enabled device. This could be another computer, a smartphone like the iPhone, or an iTouch. If you don't have anything like that handy, invite someone over who does. Luckily, most WiFi-enabled devices are portable. If that device can access the Internet, the problem is with your computer. If it can't, the problem is with your router, modem, or ISP.

Try the laptop elsewhere. Take it to a café or library that offers WiFi and see what you can do. If you can access the Internet from there, the problem isn't with your PC.

Hopefully, after all of these tests, you'll be able to find the problem and fix it. And if not, you'll at least know which company to call for technical support.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags NetworkingWi-Fi

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lincoln Spector

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?