How to Fix an Unstable Wi-Fi Connection at your office and home. This article covers the most common Wi-Fi problems and how to fix them. We’ve grown so accustomed to Wi-Fi being readily available for listening to music, streaming our favorite shows, and allowing us to work from home that we rarely think twice about being connected until we’re suddenly experiencing a Wi-Fi problem.
Unstable Wi-Fi is often caused by wireless congestion. Congestion problems are common in apartment complexes or densely packed neighborhoods. The more people use the internet, the greater the instability.
A loss of connection is disruptive to a daily routine, but most Wi-Fi issues are easy to fix, so you can get reconnected relatively quickly. When your Wi-Fi goes down, you can restore access on your own by troubleshooting some of these common problems.
When many people in the same area are working from home, connectivity suffers. For those wondering how to fix Wi-Fi that sucks or is unstable, this article is for you.
How to Fix Your Unstable Wi-Fi Connection
Download and Install a Wi-Fi Analysis App
On Windows, many free apps can analyze the quality of wireless channels. One of the best options is available on the Microsoft Store: Wi-Fi Analyzer.
If you have Windows but can’t access the Microsoft Store, we recommend NirSoft’s WifiInfoView. For those without Windows, search your respective operating system’s app store for “Wi-Fi Analyzer,” and you should see dozens of options.
Detect Unstable Wi-Fi
Using Wi-Fi Analyzer is dead simple. Just install and run the app. After installation, you can launch it by going to Windows Search (Windows key + S) > Wi-Fi Analyzer.
The tool should detect your Wi-Fi signal strength, ranging from zero to -100 decibel milliwatts (dBm). If you have a 5GHz network, a toggle at the bottom of the app interface allows you to switch between detecting 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
To analyze your wireless router’s signal quality, take the following actions:
Click on Analyze in the top menu bar.
Wi-Fi Analyzer then displays a visualization of the Wi-Fi networks in your vicinity. If two networks broadcast on the same channel, you’ll notice an overlap. Each channel has a number between one and 161 on the 5GHz frequency and one through 11 on the 2.4GHz frequency.
Here’s what it looks like when two networks overlap:
The X-plane axis represents the channels available on the 2.4GHz spectrum. As you can see, channels four to seven are unoccupied. Channels five and six have no competition whatsoever. Given the app’s analysis, I should change my router’s 2.4GHz channel to either five or six.
But how do you change your router’s channel?
How to Change Your Router’s Channel
Accessing your router’s settings requires a browser, like Chrome or Microsoft Edge. Accessing its settings, unfortunately, varies between different router models, but some general rules apply.
- Netgear routers: In your browser, navigate to https://routerlogin.net
- TP-Link routers: In your browser, navigate to https://tplinklogin.net
- Linksys routers: In your browser, navigate to 192.168.1.1.
You can complete an internet search to find the login URL for your specific router brand and model.
Most routers use “admin” as the login and “password” as the password. The login details may also be printed on the back of the router or in the instruction manual that came with it. If you cannot access your router, try searching the internet for your individual router’s access method.
How to fix slow or no internet access in certain offices or rooms
When only a couple of people are experiencing slow internet, the problem could be with their devices, and not the office internet. Browser add-ons, plug-ins, and viruses can all be reasons why the office internet seems slower than usual. Try using a different browser to see if your internet is still experiencing slow speeds; if not, then it might be time to clear your browser cache and uninstall the unnecessary add-ons.
Wi-Fi is radio waves, meaning your Wi-Fi router broadcasts in all directions from a central location. If your router is in a far corner of your house, then you’re covering a great deal of the outside world unnecessarily. If you can, move your router to a more centralized location. The closer you can put your router to the center of your coverage area, the better reception will be throughout your house.
If you have external antennas, you can try adjusting those, too. Alternating between fully vertical and fully horizontal positions can help reach in multiple directions.
If you live in an apartment building, other routers might be interfering with yours. Free software, like NetSpot on Mac and Windows (and Android) or Wi-Fi Analyzer for Android, can show you every wireless network nearby, and what channel they’re using. If your router overlaps with nearby networks in particular rooms, consider switching to a less congested channel.
If none of that helps, your home might be too much for one router to handle. Consider purchasing a wireless repeater or setting up an old router to serve as one to extend the range of your main router.
How wireless interference causes unstable Wi-Fi
Imagine an old car radio. Rotating the station dial sometimes plays a static combination of two different radio stations. That’s because two radio towers can operate on the same frequency channel. The same is true for Wi-Fi routers: when two or more routers transmit on the same channel, they slow each other down and cause unstable connections.
The problem is magnified in dense living spaces. In apartment complexes, dozens of routers can transmit on the same channel. Even modern wireless technology can’t cope with that level of interference.
Like radio, Wi-Fi is broken up into frequencies on the gigahertz (GHz) spectrum of 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Each frequency is broken up into smaller increments called channels.
The 2.4GHz frequency suffers from congestion the most because of its limited number of channels and long range. There are 11 channels, but only three of them are non-overlapping. That means speed and connection quality suffer when there are more routers in the same area.
5GHz, on the other hand, offers 23 non-overlapping channels. It also suffers from a shorter range, meaning fewer overlapping radio signals. It’s a lot like AM and FM radio, where the longer-range AM has poorer audio fidelity, and FM sounds great, but it comes at the expense of range.
Fortunately, you can change your router’s channel the same way you can change a radio dial. It works like this: identify which channels aren’t congested and switch your device over to it. If that doesn’t work, think about changing your router to a 5GHz model.
USB 3.0 Devices and Cables Generate Wireless Interference
Another source of bad Wi-Fi is interference from un-shielded USB 3.0 cables and devices. Thanks to a bug in the USB 3.0 standard, some cables generate 2.4GHz radiation, trampling over the signals of Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless devices. There are several possible fixes:
- Unplug your USB 3.0 devices and check if your wireless signal improves
- Buy shielded USB 3.1 cables
- Move your wireless receivers away from USB 3.0 cables and devices