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Troubleshooting suggestions for home wifi issues

 

As so many of us are working from home during the COVID-19 emergency, our day to day activities and functions are highly dependent on the quality of our internet connection. From time to time, you may experience trouble with your connection. If you find your connection to be having performance issues, follow the tips below to resolve the problem.

 

1. Reboot your computer daily. Powering down your computer daily is an effective way to fully clear out the memory and reset your wi-fi network card. You may find this helps keep your computer running at top speed.

2. Reboot your wi-fi router. Similar to powering down your computer, this is an effective way to reset your router. It is not necessary to do this daily.

3. Limit the number of devices connected to your wi-fi. You may be surprised at the number of devices that automatically connect to your wi-fi. Cell phones, DVRs, computers, tablets, security cameras, video doorbells, and appliances may all be using your bandwidth and data. During this extraordinary time, you may want to disconnect some of those devices or at least disconnect them during critical usage times such as conducting a Zoom meeting or class session.

4. Be careful with streaming services. Streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, and Hulu use a lot of bandwidth and data. During a shelter-in-place period, it is likely that many households will have children home from school and college. Subsequently, streaming services may be a popular way to pass the time. During critical usage times such as Zoom meetings or class sessions, you will want people in your household to temporarily discontinue the use of streaming services.

5. Use cellular data when you can. If you are using the Jabber app on your cell phone, using cellular data rather than wi-fi will reduce the impact on your Internet connection.

6. Turn off video when using Zoom when you can. The video component of Zoom uses a good chunk of bandwidth. If you have difficulty with your Internet connection, consider turning off your video feed in Zoom when you can. Certainly, if you are leading a meeting or class session, having the video stream turned on is important. However, you may be able to turn video off if you are just listening.

7. Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP). If you have tried all the tips above and are still having trouble with your wi-fi or Internet connection, you should contact your ISP. They may be able to tell about traffic on your connection of which you might not be aware. They can also tell you about difficulties they may be having with their network that are out of your control yet still impacting the performance of you connection.

8. Additional troubleshooting suggestions If your wifi is slow and there are drop outs during Zoom calls etc:

8a.Test the speed of your connection at https://www.speedtest.net/

If the first test is very slow (higher numbers are better measured in megabits per second) and the ping time very high (lower numbers are better) greater than 20 ms, you can change servers and run the test again.  If it is still low/high try these steps:

8b. Try moving your wireless device closer to your wireless access point/router and run the test again. If the speed improves (higher Mb/s) and the ping latency decreases (lower ms), your wireless signal may not be strong in the area of your house you are working in.

8c. Try moving your work location, if feasible, closer to your wireless access point/router. If not feasible, try moving your wireless access point/router closer to your work location. If neither are feasible, and you feel comfortable setting these up, you can look into a wireless extender or a mesh solution. This is only recommended if neither of the above are feasible and your signal improves when closer to the gateway: https://bestreviews.com/best-mesh-wifi-systems

8d. If the speed does not improve, you may be experiencing interference from neighboring access points. To rule this out, connecting your laptop/device (if it has an ethernet port) with ethernet to the router should help improve things. 

8e. Turn off wireless on your laptop and make sure your device can get to the internet while wired.

8f. Re-run the speedtest at https://www.speedtest.net/. Download speed in Mbps (megabits per second) should be faster (higher numbers are better) and ping time in ms (milliseconds) should drop (lower numbers are better--15ms or less).

8g. If things still do not get better when wired or remain the same as the wireless test, you might need to contact your provider to check your wiring or your gateway. Speed of connectivity will also vary based on the type of connection you have. For example, if you are using DSL, connectivity is limited by the distance you are from the provider. If you are using a cable provider, it can vary by how many people are using the system all at once in your neighborhood or complex. The goal is to make the connection as optimal as possible without spending too much or any money. Moving closer to the wireless access point/router and wiring the device to the gateway is the least expensive and easiest way to improve your connection. Your provider might be able to fix the wiring or replace your gateway. Hopefully you will not have to spend money to buy a wireless mesh system.