How to Troubleshoot a Lost Wireless Connection

Confirm that Wi-Fi has been enabled, it could be a simple matter of one of the hardware or software Wi-Fi switches being turned off.

Check the Switches on the Router

The router itself could be turned off, so check the indicator light. Routers usually come with a physical toggle for the Wi-Fi connection, and it’s the next thing you should check. Typically, there’s also a Wi-Fi indicator light that flashes while data transfer activity is going on. While you’re at it, you can also examine your router’s broadband connection and see if it hasn’t come loose.

Check the Switches on Your Computer

If you have a laptop, check if you may have inadvertently toggled the Wi-Fi off. You may have done it earlier and just forgot about it. Usually, pressing Fn near the left control key plus the F3 function key will bring up this toggle.

If your computer uses a USB Wi-Fi network adapter, then make sure it’s connected properly and isn’t loose. Try another USB port and see if it will work there.

Check the Wi-Fi Settings

On a PC, laptop, or any mobile device, the Wi-Fi may be disabled and you can navigate its settings to turn it back on again.

In Windows, for instance, some settings may be affecting the Wi-Fi connection and turning it off. You could check the Power Options on the Control Panel. Choosing one of the Power Plans will take you to its screen where you can access the link to Change advanced power settings. It will open up the Power Options dialogue box where you can set the Wi-Fi adapter to use maximum power.

Another thing to check is the Device Manager to see if the connection has been disabled somehow. Again, using the Control Panel bring up the Device Manager window. In it, you’ll see a complete list of all devices and components attached to the computer.

Clicking on Network Adapter will show your wireless network adapter. Right-click on it and make sure it’s enabled. If the problem is with an iOS or Android mobile device showing a dead connection, go to its settings. Look for the option to turn Wi-Fi on or off. It’s a slide toggled to green on iOS and is blue on Android.

Move Your Device Near the Router

Anything that can cause interference or be an obstruction to the Wi-Fi signal may prevent your device from connecting wirelessly to your router. It could be metal objects, phones, furniture, walls, floors, or other things that could be creating a wide dead zone.

A home Wi-Fi network can be vulnerable to electromagnetic waves, which is emitted by all household appliances. Microwaves coming from a cellphone or oven can also kill a signal. Be sure your router isn’t near any other appliances, particularly from the kitchen.

To test this out, try moving your device near your router and make sure there’s a clear path for the signal. If the connection works, then it’s a simple matter of getting rid of interference or moving your router to a better spot where you can get an optimal signal.

It could be that your device is too far away and out of range. It’s a problem for old or cheap routers in a large home. You could also try to move closer until you can get a better signal. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to replace it with a more powerful one. Also, consider purchasing a repeater/extender, or even a mesh network to expand your router’s coverage in your home.

Perform a Router Reboot or Reset

Rebooting or restarting means you would have to shut down your router, wait for a few minutes, and start it back up again. It must not be confused with a reset, which is an entirely different thing.
You can turn the power button off and then switch it back on again. You could also unplug the power cable and plug it back in. Wait for it to complete its boot-up sequence before you try to connect to the internet again.

Most of the time, this would resolve your connection woes, especially if your router has been running for a while. However, a lot of people don’t even do this simple action. If you’re using a computer, sometimes restarting it too will help.

On the other hand, resetting a router is drastic and more of a last resort. That’s because once you reset a router, it would revert to its factory defaults and will remove any upgrades or customizations you’ve done to it. There’s usually a reset button on the back panel that you can press for several seconds.

If there’s a way for you to save your configuration settings in the router’s web interface, it would be a good idea to do so before a reset. That way, you can restore your preferred settings once you get your connection going again.

Verify the Password and the SSID

The Service Set Identifier (SSID) is a primary name identifying a network. It’s the name that a device looks for to connect to a Wi-Fi network. If for some reason, none of your devices can find it, they won’t be able to connect to that network.

Check your device and see if it’s trying to establish a connection with the right SSID and not with another one that you’re not allowed to access. Your device could be picking up another nearby network, or it could be the name of another network that you use in another location, like in an office or school. So be sure the right name is selected.

Sometimes, even if you’re sure that it’s the right SSID, a wrong password could be causing the problem. You need to check if the current network password matches the one paired with the SSID on your device. Someone may have changed it to a new one. Talk to a network administrator and make sure if you’re using a correct one.

Keep in mind that a recent reset will cause a settings mismatch since it would return to its defaults. You may have, at some point, changed the SSID and Wi-Fi password so your devices won’t recognize the defaults after the reset.

Check the DHCP Settings

One convenient and secure way of assigning IP addresses to client devices is to set up a router as a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server. That way, it will automatically give each of those devices a dynamic IP address. Some DHCP routers can even change the address while the device is still connected.

You’ll have to take a look at the TCP/IP settings of the wireless adapter network to be sure it can receive these IP addresses dynamically. If it’s only using a single static IP, then there will a conflict with the DHCP server. You’ll need to set up the network adapter to work correctly with DHCP.

In Windows, right-click the icon on the taskbar for the network connection and choose Open Network and Sharing Center. You should see the wireless connection you’re trying to fix. Click on it, and the Wireless Network Connection Status dialogue box will appear.

Next, click on Properties, and that should bring up another box called Wireless Network Connection Properties. If you click on the Properties of either the TCP/IPv6 or TCP/IPv4, it will open another dialogue box. Make sure to set them to obtain IP addresses automatically.

With Android, go to Settings, then Wi-Fi, and tap Edit. Look for the advanced settings to select DHCP.

For iOS, navigate to Wi-Fi of the Settings app. Select the network having problems and check if Configure IP is set to Automatic instead of Manual so it will work properly with DHCP.

Network Drivers and Operating System Updates

Another reason for a dead Wi-Fi is outdated device drivers, or a new one causing issues. Sometimes even upgrading the router is the reason.

An operating system upgrade can sometimes contain a fix that can solve the problem, so it’s a good habit to update your OS regularly. The best way to keep it up-to-date is by letting it download as well as install the latest updates automatically. Take note that Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows 7 since January 2020.

You can also drop by the company’s website to check if any new updates for your model are available.

Allow the Computer Attempt Repairs

Sometimes letting Windows troubleshoot the problems can help simplify the process and help you avoid a lot of headaches, especially if you’re not that technically inclined.

Right-clicking the icon on the taskbar for the network connection will give you the option to troubleshoot problems. Selecting it will start the Windows Network Diagnostics. At first, it will scan for any network connectivity issues.

After a few seconds, it will inform you of any problems found and if it was able to fix it or not. A Diagnose button that does the same thing is also available when clicking the name of the connection on the Network and Sharing Center.  

Emil S.

Emil is a Data & Design Specialist with a degree in BS Information System, specializes in Admin Support & Creative Design.

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