Tips for Troubleshooting Wi-Fi That Won’t Connect

By

Where would we be without wi-fi? Perhaps paying massive overage charges for exceeding our data limit? Nowhere good, that much is certain.

troubleshooting wi-fi that won't connect

However getting your devices hooked up to a network is not always as easy as 1-2-3. If you’ve ever felt the keen frustration of being unable to connect your phone, tablet or laptop to wi-fi — this article is for you. Here are some things you can try the next time your wi-fi won’t connect.

Tips for Phones and Tablets

  1. Check Your Settings. So you left your tablet or phone in “airplane mode” and forgot. It happens. Or maybe the wireless got turned off in the settings by accident. This may seem obvious, but it’s worth taking a look at your settings to make sure everything is in check before you move on.
  2. Make sure you have a wireless signal and can see the network. “No bars” obviously means your wi-fi won’t connect, but a weak signal may be the reason your devices aren’t connecting. If the network name isn’t visible at all in the list of networks, then the problem is likely not your with device, but with the network. In that case…
  3. Check other networks. If opportunity allows, try connecting to another network — a hotspot, your friend’s wi-fi, your neighbor’s unsecured connection. If you can connect to those networks but not the one you want, then the issue likely lies either with the network or an authentication issue (i.e. a password problem).
  4. Make sure the router is connected and working properly. If you’re using your own network and the wi-fi won’t connect, now is the time to check the connections and the lights on the wireless router. If everything seems in order, unplug or reset the router and try again when it boots back up.
  5. Reset your network settings or “forget” the network. To see if it’s an authentication issue, remove the network from your list and try to rejoin it. Often, if it’s an authentication issue (but the network was not asking for your password again), this will clear it up.
  6. Update your software. If you’ve been holding off on installing that next big OS rollout, now might be the time. Of course, this solution assumes that the update is either already on your device or that you can connect to a different wi-fi network.
  7. Have you tried turning it off and on again? Yes, that’s a classic joke, but restarting your device actually solves a lot of problems. There’s a reason this is the first thing tech support suggests when you call.

Tips for Laptops

laptop

  1. Watch for errors. I mention this only because of my years working in tech support. You’d be amazed at how many people click “OK” on error message popups without reading them. Also, an error message might not be immediately evident — check your taskbar icons for signs of trouble.
  2. Check Your Switches. Not every laptop still has a physical hardware switch for the wireless card, but some still do, and they can be a headache if you’ve turned the card off without knowing.  If you do have a hardware switch, this is a great time to try the old “turn it off and on again” ploy.
  3. Turn off your firewall. You don’t want to leave your firewall off permanently — but deactivating it can be a great way to eliminate the firewall as a source of trouble if your wi-fi won’t connect.
  4. Try some redundancy. If you have another device nearby, try connecting to the network with that device. If you can’t connect there either, then the problem likely isn’t with your laptop, but with your router — see tip number 4 above on resetting it. However, if the other device does connect, the problem is probably with your wireless card or the laptop’s network settings.
  5. Update your drivers or reset your wireless card. As with phones and tablets, sometimes software updates can fix wireless troubles (if nothing else, because they often require a reboot). If your wireless card seems to be having trouble, you can try deactivating it in your computer’s device list and then reactivating it. This will sometimes reset the card and get your wi-fi working again. You can also remove the card from the device list, but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you have experience with it.
  6. Consult the Troubleshooting Wizard. Granted, you don’t hear many stories of the troubleshooting wizard on Windows systems solving a lot of problems. But it’s been known to happen! If you’ve tried everything you can think of and your wi-fi still won’t connect, the built-in troubleshooter may point you in the right direction.
  7. Have you tried turning it off and on again? No, seriously. Have you?

Hopefully, these tips will save you from a long tech support call and any wi-fi-induced frustration. And if you’re in the market for any wi-fi-enabled devices for work, travel, or just for fun, be sure to check out BLINQ’s deals on laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Are there any tips I missed above? Tell me about them in the comments!

Avatar
Author: Daniel

Daniel lives by his wits in the remotest wilds of Montana. (Actually, he lives in a cozy downtown apartment with his wife and two cats.) When he's not shopping for deals he enjoys reading, writing, blogging, documentaries and frequent walks.