Common Home WiFi Problems and How to Fix Them


Lyndon Seitz - Editor-in-Chief

Date Modified: April 18, 2024

Common Home WiFi Problems and How to Fix Them

Wifi, originating from the ingenuity of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 in 1997, has significantly shaped our society. Initially a transformative innovation, it has dramatically evolved over the decades, mirroring the rapid advancements in digital technology. This wire-free internet connectivity unlocked unprecedented opportunities, allowing us the luxury of ubiquitous access. With this, societies worldwide embarked on a journey of digitalization, moving from tethered, localized networks to global, borderless communication structures.

As of 2023, an estimated 5.18 billion individuals globally harness the power of the internet, with a sizable chunk, especially in regions like North America with a 93% penetration rate, relying on home wifi networks. While this degree of connectivity has ushered in a new era of communication and accessibility, it isn't devoid of challenges. Wifi related issues, varying in complexity and severity, frequently interrupt the digital experience, reminding us of the imperfections inherent in this technology. Yet, despite these drawbacks, wifi remains an invaluable component of the modern household, continuously adapting to meet the burgeoning demands of our increasingly interconnected world.

Understanding Wifi and How It Works

Wifi, an integral part of our digital ecosystem, operates via two key components: the modem and router. The modem serves as the liaison between the local network and the internet, translating analog signals from the internet service provider into a digital format for devices. The router, meanwhile, directs this digital data to various devices, wirelessly transmitting information through radio waves, a process fundamental to the seamless connectivity wifi provides. Here we delve into the extensive spectrum of issues that can plague home wifi networks.

Problem 1: Weak Wifi Signal

Wifi signal strength, which determines the speed and quality of your internet connectivity, is influenced by factors such as internet speed from your service provider, with a speed of at least 25 Mbps recommended for most homes, and the frequency of the wifi signal, typically 2.4GHz for broader coverage and 5GHz for higher data rates. Essential for high-quality video streaming, efficient online gaming, and speedy data transfers, a strong wifi signal propagates in a radial pattern from the router, but can degrade due to distance, obstacles, and interference, underscoring the necessity of strategic router placement and routing network optimization.

Weak Wifi Signal–Problem and Solution

What Causes Weak Wifi Signal?

  • Distance From the Router: As you move farther away from the router, the signal strength of your wifi connection gradually diminishes. This decrease in signal strength occurs due to various factors such as attenuation, interference, and obstacles in the signal path.
  • Physical Obstructions: Physical obstructions such as walls, floors, and large furniture can significantly hamper wifi signals, as they absorb or deflect these electromagnetic waves, leading to a compromised internet connection. Therefore, to ensure optimal wifi performance, it's advisable to position the router in an open area, clear of such barriers, to facilitate unimpeded signal propagation.
  • Interference from Other Devices: Electronic devices, particularly those operating within the same frequency bands as your wifi, such as microwaves, cordless phones, and Bluetooth devices, can cause significant signal interference, disrupting your wifi's bandwidth and stability. Additionally, neighboring wifi networks competing for the same frequency can also lead to signal congestion, potentially resulting in decreased speed and performance of your own network.
  • Weak Network Security: An unsecured wireless network is susceptible to unwelcome interference, be it from an oblivious neighbor or a malicious intruder, leading to a drain on bandwidth and consequently weaker wifi signals. Changing your wifi password is an important step in beefing up your network security. If you have a company coming to visit for a few days, you may wish to create a temporary guest network and delete it when your guests depart.
  • Outdated Equipment: Outdated equipment, particularly older router models, can often fail to deliver strong and stable wifi signals due to limitations in their technological capabilities and compatibility with current standards, such as 802.11ac or 802.11ax. These older devices may not support modern features like dual-band frequency or multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) technology, which can markedly improve wifi coverage and speed.

How to Solve Weak Wifi Signal Problem

  • Router Placement: Routers, with their inbuilt antennas, project a finite wifi range, and as such, the signal strength dwindles with increasing distance from the router. Strategic placement in a central location enhances signal coverage throughout the home, including its farthest corners, with most contemporary routers extending up to 150 feet indoors. This centralized positioning also bolsters network security by limiting signal reach to potential external intruders, thereby reducing the likelihood of unwarranted access.
  • Wifi Extenders or Mesh Network: Wifi extenders and mesh networks are devices designed to amplify and extend wifi coverage, effectively addressing areas with weak or non-existent signals, often referred to as 'dead zones'. The TP-Link RE650 wifi extender utilizes advanced technologies such as 4-Stream and TurboQAM to amplify wifi bandwidth, enabling remarkable maximum speeds of up to 800 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1733 Mbps on the 5GHz band, making it an ideal choice to support bandwidth-intensive activities like 4K streaming and gaming.
  • Get a New Modem and Router: Upgrading your modem and router is essential when facing connectivity issues or slow internet speeds, especially if your current devices are outdated or incompatible with the latest wifi standards. Consider investing in a high-quality modem and router combo, like the TP-Link Archer AX6000, which leverages cutting-edge technologies such as 802.11ax, 1024QAM, and Long OFDM Symbol to deliver remarkable speeds of up to 1148 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 4804 Mbps on the 5GHz band, providing seamless, lag-free performance with expanded bandwidth.
  • Run Speed Tests: Conducting speed tests on various devices, at different times of the day, and in different locations within your home can help pinpoint areas with weak signal strength or interference, allowing you to take practical steps such as minimizing the use of other electronic devices or relocating your router to optimize wifi performance and minimize interference.

Problem 2: Slow Wifi Speed

Slow wifi speed can be a frustrating obstacle, affecting various online activities. It is determined by factors like bandwidth, signal strength, and interference, influencing the time taken to upload or download data. Browsing and research require 3-25 Mbps, social media use needs 1-25 Mbps, streaming and live streaming necessitate 10-25 Mbps, gaming benefits from 25-50 Mbps, and working from home requires 1-50 Mbps. Higher speeds are vital for uninterrupted experiences. Tools like the Broadband Search speed test can be utilized to measure wifi speed and identify potential issues that need to be addressed for improved performance.

Slow Wifi Speed–Problem and Solution

Why Is My Internet So Slow?

  • Slow Internet Plan: A slow internet plan refers to a service package with limited bandwidth or lower speeds, often resulting in sluggish online experiences. With slow wifi speeds typically falling below recommended thresholds, such as 25 Mbps for streaming or 3 Mbps for gaming. Selecting an internet plan that meets your specific needs is essential for maintaining smooth and uninterrupted connectivity.
  • ISP Bandwidth Limitations: ISP bandwidth limitations, also known as speed throttling, involve deliberate reductions in internet speeds by ISPs. This practice significantly impacts wifi performance, resulting in slower download and upload speeds, increased buffering during streaming, and reduced internet responsiveness. ISPs may employ speed throttling to manage network congestion or enforce data caps, restricting users' ability to fully utilize their internet connection and undermining the overall online experience.
  • High Traffic on the Network: High traffic on a wifi network occurs when multiple devices are simultaneously connected or when bandwidth-intensive applications are in use. In theory, up to 255 devices can connect to a single wifi connection, but in reality, this number is hard to achieve due to bandwidth limitations and other factors. The practical limit for a single router is typically around 45 devices, but this can vary based on the internet plan and the specific usage patterns of those devices.
  • Outdated Devices and Firmware: Outdated devices and firmware can significantly impact wifi performance as they may lack support for higher speeds, bandwidth, or newer wifi frequencies. Devices that are no longer receiving software updates or utilizing older wifi standards, such as 802.11g or 802.11n, can be considered outdated, potentially leading to slower connections, limited range, and compatibility issues with newer routers and network technologies.

How to Boost Slow Internet Connection Right Now

  • Upgrade Internet Plan: Upgrading your internet plan brings benefits like faster speeds, increased bandwidth, and improved performance for digital activities. Consider factors like usage patterns, the number of devices, and the requirements for tasks like streaming or gaming when deciding to upgrade. Choose the best home wifi plan by considering location, available providers, and finding the right balance between speed, reliability, and affordability for a seamless digital experience.
  • Network Traffic Management: Network traffic management involves prioritizing devices or applications to optimize performance and ensure a smooth internet experience. By employing Quality of Service (QoS) settings on your router, you can assign priority levels to different devices or applications, allowing critical tasks like video streaming or online gaming to receive higher bandwidth allocation, while less bandwidth-demanding activities like web browsing or email can function effectively without affecting the overall network performance.
  • Check for Viruses and Malware: To safeguard your PC from viruses and malware that can disrupt your internet speed, it is crucial to install a reliable antivirus software and conduct regular virus and malware checks. These malicious programs can consume your internet bandwidth, leading to slow internet speeds, and also slow down your web browser. Additionally, ensure that your PC's firewall is kept up to date for added protection against potential threats.
  • Regular Device and Firmware Updates: For modem/router combo units from ISPs, firmware updates are usually automated, but separate routers require manual checks for updates. Routers serve as dedicated network management systems, necessitating firmware updates to optimize performance, address bugs, and enhance security. Keeping firmware up to date is crucial for optimal functionality and security. While newer routers may offer automatic updates, verifying the firmware version manually and enabling automatic updates offers added peace of mind.

Problem 3: Intermittent Wifi Connection

Intermittent wifi connections, characterized by sporadic drops or disruptions in wireless connectivity, can be an annoying and disruptive issue for users. These unpredictable interruptions occur due to various factors, such as signal interference, network congestion, or hardware issues. Such disruptions can lead to decreased productivity, hindered communication, and an overall diminished online experience. Resolving intermittent wifi connection problems is crucial for ensuring seamless connectivity and maximizing productivity in an increasingly digital world.

Intermittent Wifi Connection–Problem and Solution

Why Does My Wifi Keep Dropping?

  • Overheating Routers: Maintaining the router's temperature between 70-80 degrees Celsius while under load is recommended. Overheating routers can lead to performance issues, compromising the stability and reliability of your wifi network. Excessive heat can affect the internal components of the router, causing degradation in performance and signal strength. This can result in intermittent connection drops, reduced speeds, and overall poor network performance.
  • Network Overload: Network congestion occurs when there are too many devices connected to the same wifi network, causing limited bandwidth for each device. This results in slow speeds, buffering videos, and frequent disconnections.
  • ISP Service Interruptions: During ISP service interruptions, users may experience disruptions in their wifi connectivity, resulting in temporary loss of internet access or reduced performance. These interruptions can be caused by various factors, including scheduled network maintenance to ensure optimal performance, unforeseen infrastructure issues such as damaged cables or equipment failure, or large-scale outages affecting the entire service provider's network.
  • Wrong Wifi Network: Connecting to the wrong wifi network can lead to intermittent disconnections and loss of connectivity. When neighboring locations have unsecured networks with the same name (SSID), devices may inadvertently connect to the wrong network without user knowledge. This can cause momentary disruptions during network transitions, loss of connection when the neighboring network is turned off, and potential bandwidth issues if multiple users are connected to the other network.

How to Solve Intermittent Wifi Connection Problem

  • Adequate Ventilation for the Router: It is recommended to place the router in an open and well-ventilated area, away from heat sources and obstructions. Adequate airflow around the router allows heat to dissipate, preventing performance issues and prolonging the lifespan of the device. Regularly cleaning any dust or debris around the router's vents and ensuring it is not covered or enclosed can further enhance ventilation and maintain a reliable wifi connection.
  • Balance Network Load: If your laptop automatically connects to nearby networks, it can lead to frequent disconnections and reconnecting, causing disruptions in internet connectivity. This can be particularly frustrating during activities like gaming or streaming. To prevent this, you can adjust your computer's network settings by unchecking the "Connect Automatically When This Network is in Range" option, ensuring a more stable and uninterrupted wifi experience.
  • Update or Reset Router Software: If all other troubleshooting steps fail, you can try resetting the router to its factory settings. Locate the reset button on the back of the router and press and hold it for 10-20 seconds (refer to the user manual for specific instructions). Resetting the router erases customized settings and requires setting up the username and password again, but it also eliminates any potential malware that may have infected the router, improving security.
  • Change Your ISP: When troubleshooting fails to address frequent throttling and internet outages, it may be time to switch your ISP. By exploring alternative providers, you can potentially find a more reliable and stable internet connection, ensuring a smoother online experience without the persistent issues faced with your current ISP.

When selecting an ISP, key factors to consider include:

  • Speed: Internet connection speed is a critical factor, impacting data download and upload speeds, as well as the quality of video and audio streaming. While ISPs often advertise maximum speeds, it's important to consider real-world performance, which can vary due to factors like network congestion and time of day. Prioritizing ISPs that offer consistent and reliable speeds ensures an optimal internet experience that aligns with your needs.
  • Availability: Before signing up for an internet service provider (ISP), ensure they provide services in your area to avoid potential inconveniences and delays when setting up your internet connection.
  • Data Caps: When choosing an ISP, be mindful of data caps that restrict monthly usage. If you anticipate heavy data usage, particularly for video streaming or gaming, consider an ISP that provides unlimited data plans to avoid potential overage fees and enjoy uninterrupted online activities.
  • General Contract: Consider the cost of the service, contract duration, and any associated fees. Comparing prices and contract terms across different ISPs allows you to find the most favorable deal that aligns with your specific requirements and budget.
  • Customer Service: Assessing online reviews and seeking recommendations from friends and family can provide valuable insights into the level of customer support offered by different ISPs, helping you make an informed decision and ensuring a positive experience with your internet service.


The landscape of home wifi technology is dynamic and continually evolving, seeking to meet the increasing internet demand and resolve persisting wifi problems – from dead spots to intermittent disconnections, slow speeds, and cybersecurity concerns. However, it's crucial to note that many of these issues are not static and impossible. Emerging solutions such as Mesh wifi systems, wifi 6E, and even the advent of wifi 7 hold promise for improved performance and reliability, providing better user experiences.

As users, owning and using wifi is not just a 'set it and forget it' affair. We need to remain proactive and diligent in regularly updating and troubleshooting our systems and considering quality ISPs. Our digital lives depend on our wifi connections more than ever, and hence, it's vital to equip ourselves with the knowledge and tools to overcome the associated challenges, turning home wifi issues into opportunities for technological proficiency and improvement.


Will a mobile hotspot boost my wifi?

If you’re sitting around wondering, “why is my Wifi not working?” - perhaps you’re not getting the coverage you need on your laptop, or the connection is spotty - then a mobile hotspot can absolutely help you out. All you need to do is use your mobile phone as a hotspot. Your mobile data can be used by other devices. 

Be aware that you must keep the devices within range and limit their number for the best results. If you’re using too many devices on the same data connection, it will run slowly.

Why is WiFi faster on some devices?

You may be experiencing faster Wi-Fi on some devices compared to others. That can happen because of several factors. The older the device, the more outdated the hardware. You also must ensure that all your devices are within range and get full coverage from your router. 

The number of devices you use on the same Wi-Fi connection can also be a problem. Each device you add splits your internet speed, so turning some of them off can help. If all else fails, switching to cable internet while figuring out your Wi-Fi connection can ensure you’re still getting coverage when needed.

What modem is best for high speed internet?

First, we must clarify that a modem cannot increase your internet connection speed. That is something that depends on your provider and package. However, if your modem is older and outdated, it’s possible that it’s not permitting you to take advantage of the full speed and potential of the connection you’re paying for. 

If you upgrade to a newer model with a higher broadband allocation, you can enjoy the full speed you’re paying for. New models like the latest offerings from Motorola, for example, support plans of up to 600 Mbps or even 900 Mpbs+, so you’re not inadvertently capping your speed. 

How do I know if I need to upgrade my Wi-Fi router?

If your internet is spotty, if your router won’t connect to the internet or needs to be reset, or if you’re otherwise paying for a higher speed and you’re not able to get it because your router is outdated, then it’s time to purchase a newer model that serves your needs better.

How to find free WiFi near me?

Free WiFi is more common than ever, thankfully. If you’re wondering how to get fast WiFi, most businesses will now offer free WiFi for their customers, password protected or not. Think about the coffee shops, restaurants, or even banks and parks that you have locally - they may be your best source for free WiFi. 

Otherwise, some online services and apps can help you identify sources of free WiFi in your city. Just look up your location, and you should be able to find free WiFi no matter where you are.