Having a home network can definitely make life easier, but it can also bring problems when everything does not work as planned. Here are three examples of some of the most common home networking problems you may encounter, along with advice on how to overcome them.
Network Signal Does Not Reach All Devices
When you are mapping out a setup for your home network, you want it to be effective, but you also don't want to add a lot of clutter to your interior décor. Having long, unsightly networking cables running all over your house might give you internet connectivity, but is it practical? Of course not. You can opt for a wireless network and avoid the clutter, but you could run into the common problem of insufficient coverage. In other words, the wireless signal does not reach all the areas it needs to, leaving some computers out in the cold.
When setting up your home network, make sure your router is in a location where all the devices that intend to use it can get a decent signal strength. If a device is far away from the router and has a weak signal strength, it could experience drops in connection from time to time. A device can also experience connectivity problems even if it is close to the router, however, if interference comes into play. For these reasons, you will likely have to do some trial and error until you find the right location. Yes, it may be frustrating, but it's better to test the locations and find the correct one instead of settling on a location that will give you problems in the future.
The first rule of thumb to follow when positioning your router is to put it in a central location. You don't want it to be extremely close to one device, yet too far from others. Obviously, the device you plan to use most often should receive priority, but make sure that all are covered.
You may have found a central location for the router, but you also must be aware of items that can interfere with or obstruct its signal. Keep it away from appliances such as cordless phones, microwaves, and others that emit wireless signals. Windows, mirrors, and similar shiny surfaces should also be avoided, as they can actually reflect Wi-Fi signals. As for obstructions, it will be difficult to provide a completely clear path from your router to your devices, since walls and other things will get in the way. Still, you want to keep the path as clear as possible to keep the signal strong. This can be accomplished by placing the router above the ground. Do not place it in a location that is completely hidden and covered, because the signal will be diminished.
Network Connection Is Slow
While you may be connected to the internet, your connection might be so slow and lethargic that it is nearly unusable. Symptoms such as slow loading of web pages, longer than usual download times, lags while gaming, and more are just some examples of what you can experience with a slow connection.
The possible reasons behind a slow connection can be numerous. As mentioned, interference from or obstruction other objects in your household can affect the signal and speed of your connection. It could also be caused by a problem with your internet service provider. Multiple computers connected to a network can cause performance lags, especially if they are downloading large files.
Besides problems with the network itself, your computer could be causing the slow performance. Viruses and spyware can definitely influence the connection. Having updated antivirus software can help you detect if this is a problem. Although not as malicious, many browser add-ons can negatively impact your internet connection as well. You can check to see if add-ons are the culprit by disabling them and comparing the performance to when they are enabled.
The final reason for a seemingly slow connection could have to do with the website you are trying to access. If it is overwhelmed with users and experiencing heavy traffic, delays may occur, even if your computer and network are performing at their best.
Network Signal Appears Strong But Internet Does Not Work
Perhaps one of the most common home networking problems is when you appear to have a strong network signal, but you cannot use the internet. This problem is more irritating than others because everything appears to be in working condition, but something behind the scenes is blocking your use of the internet. Since the actual cause behind the issue at hand is not transparent, you will have to do some troubleshooting to fix it.
Take a look at the lights on your router. Is the light that corresponds to the internet connection on, or at least blinking? It should be. You can also check your router's status via a web browser by visiting its page. Most router pages have an address similar to 192.168.xxxxxx. Check your router's manual for the actual address in your case. Once there, go to the home summary page or wherever details exist on your internet connection. If it's working, the internet connection should be “up.” If it's listed as down, contact your internet service provider to see if they are having an outage or problems in your area.
Another troubleshooting tip you can try is to re-enter your network's password. An incorrect network password may sound unusual, but there are instances in which an older operating system may not tell you that you entered an incorrect password. You may see a strong signal, but the incorrect password is preventing you from getting any real connection with the router. Disconnect from the network, enter the password again, and see if you can finally use the internet.
If your router has MAC address filtering enabled, that could be the source of your internet connectivity woes. MAC address filtering will only allow certain devices to connect to the router, so you will have to add your device's MAC address to the list of allowed devices. Your router's manual should have documentation on how to do this.
If none of the above seem to work, and your internet service provider has no problems, contact your router's manufacturer to see if they can help.
DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.
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