Device Can't Connect to Wi-Fi? Here's What to Do (2023)

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Oct 27, 2022 — 7 min read

“Why can’t I connect to Wi-Fi?!” We’ve all said it. Here’s how to troubleshoot common network connection problems at home.

You get home and try to connect your laptop to your home Wi-Fi network. It usually connects right away, but for some reason, the network won’t let you on. Or you get a brand new phone, but when you bring it home, you can’t connect to your Wi-Fi. What’s going on?

There are many issues that might be the reason your internet isn’t working. Many times, your fix is as easy as plugging a modem or router back in after a pet accidentally pulled it out. Sometimes, restarting your laptop’s network driver (the hardware that lets a device communicate to other devices and can be called the network adapter) can get it connected to Wi-Fi again. Use this guide to potential internet network problems to figure out why you can’t connect to Wi-Fi at home and how you can fix it on your own.

Check these Wi-Fi network issues first

  1. Check to see if your router is unplugged or if the power is cut off — your solution may be as simple as restarting your router or plugging it back in.
  2. Check if your devices are trying to connect to a different network. Although your device typically connects right to your home Wi-Fi network, it may be trying to connect to a different network. You might have to manually make it connect to your home network and forget the other one.
  3. If you changed your Wi-Fi password recently, make sure the correct one is saved in your device.
  4. Check to see if other websites or internet browsers are working. Sometimes, certain websites or servers go down.
  5. Check to see if moving your device closer to your router helps you connect. If you normally have a strong signal in rooms far away from your router but suddenly can’t connect, take your device closer to your router. If it can pick up a signal in a closer room, you may need a Wi-Fi extender.

Troubleshoot device connectivity issues

Many times, your laptop or phone is actually the source of your connection issue. Connection problems range from software issues to network adapter glitches, so it’s a good idea to start with troubleshooting your smart devices.

How to tell if you have device problems

If you’ve been able to connect your device to your home Wi-Fi network before, but suddenly can’t, it’s most likely a device problem.

How to fix different device problems

Restart your device: As your typical IT guy will tell you, your first step is to restart your device. This is a standard troubleshooting solution and could be the fix you need to get connected to Wi-Fi again.

Check your network adapter: Your next step is to check your network adapter. Sometimes connection issues arise because your computer’s network adapter might not be enabled.

On a Windows computer, check your network adapter by selecting it on the Network Connections Control Panel. Make sure the Wireless connection option is enabled.

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On a Mac, look for the Wi-Fi (AirPort) card in the top right corner of your screen (next to the sound and battery icons in your menu). Click on the option to “Turn Wi-Fi On.” If your menu icon doesn’t show anything in the menu bar, Apple recommends selecting “System Preferences” from the main Apple menu, selecting the Network icon and then clicking on Wi-Fi. From there, check the box to “Show Wi-Fi status in menu bar.”

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To check if your wireless adapter is enabled on other Apple devices, check your settings to make sure the device isn’t in airplane mode and that Wi-Fi connectivity is on. On Android devices, check your settings to make sure the device’s airplane mode is off and that Wi-Fi is on.

Update adapter drivers: Another network adapter related issue for computers could be that your network adapter driver is out of date. Essentially, computer drivers are pieces of software telling your computer hardware how to work. Updating your network adapter drivers by going to your Device Manager, selecting Network Adapters and then selecting Update Driver. Follow the instructions and after your computer restarts, see if you can connect to the Wi-Fi again.

Repair or replace hardware: If that doesn’t work, investigate potential hardware or software problems. Hardware problems aren’t prevalent, but an older computer or tablet’s network adapter could suddenly stop working if it overheats. To fix hardware issues, you can take your device to a repair store and see if they can assist in replacing any hardware. Depending on the age of your computer or other device, you may need to purchase a newer version of it.

Remove viruses: Software issues might come up if you have a computer virus, which could disable or block your ability to connect to Wi-Fi. You’ll want to scan your computer or device for viruses and remove any if found. Then restart your computer and try connecting again.

Troubleshoot Wi-Fi network issues

Wireless network issues range from a specific router channel being overcrowded to router settings that mess with your connection. If your device isn’t responsible for connectivity issues, try these tips for evaluating your home network.

How to tell if you have network problems

If you’ve tried troubleshooting potential device problems, but they didn’t work, then you probably have a network issue. You can confirm it’s your network and not your device by trying to connect other smart devices to your Wi-Fi network.

How to fix your network problems

Reboot your modem: Just as your IT guy starts with a computer reboot, your internet service provider will tell you to unplug your modem and then plug it back in. If that doesn’t work, unplug your router, give it a minute and then plug it back in. Sometimes, restarting your modem or router will reset your network and the issue magically disappears.

Check network configuration: Next, check your wireless network configuration. Many routers today use dual-band technology to extend the router’s range and Wi-Fi speeds. That means your router enables Wi-Fi communication via 2.4 GHz channels or 5 GHz channels.

However, settings on your router could have changed without you knowing and require your device to use a specific channel. Sometimes those channels appear like separate Wi-Fi networks on your device. Your phone or laptop may try to connect to a specific channel that seems available, but it’s not the network connection your router now requires. Check what channel your router’s using by logging into your router’s web interface.

Once you figure out if your router is set to a specific channel, you can also reset which channel your router uses. Resetting the channel can fix connection issues caused by an overcrowded Wi-Fi channel. Most 2.4 GHz routers come with a default channel of 6, but you can change the channel by logging into your router’s control panel using the router IP address.

Reset your network: Reset your network by using your laptop. In Windows, go to “Settings,” then “Network & Internet,” then “Status” and click on “Network Reset.”

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In a Mac operating system, Apple recommends you check your TCP/IP settings in your “System Preferences” Network pane. There, click the “Renew DHCP lease” button. Then select Wi-Fi and you’ll see your “Preferred Networks.” Click OK and navigate to your stored network passwords using “Keychain Access Utility.” There, remove your stored network passwords and restart your computer.

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Check your network adapter SSID: Check that your wireless network adapter’s SSID is available and what its status is. If your Network Adapter reads “Not Connected,” click “Connect.” One of two things may happen. If you can’t connect to your network, you may need to debug your wireless network settings (an advanced, technical troubleshooting issue). Or, your status may say “Acquiring Network Address” or “Authenticating.” If that happens, you may need to click “Diagnose” to fix an IP address issue.

Internet service provider issues

You might be blocked entirely from Wi-Fi due to any of the following problems that can only be fixed by your internet service provider:

  • You haven’t paid your bill
  • You were illegally transmitting/storing specific types of information
  • There’sa weather- or disaster-related network issue

How to tell if you have ISP problems

The first thing you can do is go to your internet provider’s customer service site to check if local outages are affecting your connection. You can also use platforms like Downdetector, which tracks outages for major ISPs.

If there aren’t local outages, call your internet provider. They may tell you about outages that haven’t been updated online yet. They can also let you know if you can’t get a connection because you have late payments or because they detected illegal data on your network.

Another Wi-Fi issue you might experience related to your provider is internet throttling. Run a standard internet speed test and then a VPN speed test during different online activities and different times of the day. You can then compare the speeds and see if your internet provider is throttling your internet connection.

How to fix your provider problems

Some provider-related problems are out of your control. For instance, you may just have to wait out weather issues that have taken down cables.

However, if late payments have resulted in disconnection, talk to your provider about paying to restore your internet service.

If illegal content transmission resulted in no service, pay any related fines and talk to your provider about how you can get service restored.

If you notice that your provider seems to be throttling your internet unfairly, let your internet service provider know. Call them, email them and visit a retail store with your speed test data in hand. Keep in mind that some internet plans have terms and conditions that allow for internet throttling, so you may not be able to resolve the slow connection issues from throttling.

Get connected and maximize your speeds

Once your Wi-Fi’s up and running again, you can use different strategies such as moving your router or tinkering with its settings to make your internet faster. Some of the same strategies that can get your laptop reconnected to your network could also speed up your browsing, such as giving your hard drive a good sweep and updating specific programs or software.

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(Video) My iPhone Won't Connect To Wi-Fi! Here's The Real Fix.

FAQs

What to do when a device can't connect to Wi-Fi? ›

Restart your Wi-Fi modem
  1. Unplug the power cable on your Wi-Fi modem.
  2. Make sure all the lights on the modem are off once you have unplugged it.
  3. Wait ten (10) seconds.
  4. Plug your modem back into the electrical outlet. Expect a three (3) minute delay to allow your devices to reconnect to the Wi-Fi network.

Why is my Wi-Fi saying can't connect to this network? ›

Windows Can't Connect to This Network Error is mostly due to the Drivers for the Network Adapter on your computer becoming outdated or getting corrupted. This error usually appears after changing WiFi Password, while trying to connect to WiFi Network after disconnecting and can also occur at other times.

Can't connect to Wi-Fi even with correct password? ›

I've entered the correct password, but I still can't connect
  1. Double-check that you have the correct password. ...
  2. Try the hex or ASCII pass key. ...
  3. Try turning your wireless card off and then on again. ...
  4. Check that you're using the correct type of wireless security. ...
  5. Check that your wireless card is properly supported.

How do I connect a device to my Wi-Fi? ›

Note: Settings and menu options may vary between manufacturers and Android versions.
...
If Wi-Fi is set to OFF, tap the slider button to turn it on.
  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Tap Wi-Fi.
  3. Tap your network name from the list of available SSIDs.
  4. Enter the network password.
  5. Tap Join.

How do you reset your network settings? ›

To reset network settings
  1. Find and tap Settings > System > Advanced > Reset options > Reset network settings.
  2. Tap RESET SETTINGS.
9 Feb 2022

How do you reset the router? ›

How to reset your router to restore factory default settings
  1. Locate the Reset button on the back of your router.
  2. With the router powered on, use the pointed end of a paperclip or similar object to press and hold the Reset button for 15 seconds.
  3. Wait for the router to fully reset and power back on.

How do I restart my WiFi router? ›

Restart modem
  1. Unplug the power and Ethernet cables from the modem. ...
  2. Wait 2-3 minutes for the modem to fully power off. ...
  3. Reconnect the power and Ethernet cables to the modem.
  4. Wait for the Internet light to turn solid, then check if the internet is working properly.

Why does it say my password is incorrect when it's right? ›

Why does it say my password is wrong when it's right? Because you're wrong. If you've typed in your username correctly and are typing in what you think is your password correctly, and it's still telling you wrong username or password, then one or both of those two items are no longer correct.

Will reset network settings delete everything? ›

Resetting network settings on an iPhone or Android smartphone will not delete any mobile carrier functionality or account information. The process resets any changes to mobile preferences you may have made since you activated your device.

How do I connect my device? ›

Step 1: Pair a Bluetooth accessory
  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen.
  2. Touch and hold Bluetooth .
  3. Tap Pair new device. If you don't find Pair new device, check under "Available devices" or tap More. Refresh.
  4. Tap the name of the Bluetooth device you want to pair with your device.
  5. Follow any on-screen instructions.

How do I check my network settings? ›

  1. Open your phone's Settings app.
  2. Tap Network & internet. Internet. If you can't find it, search for the setting you want to change. ...
  3. At the bottom, tap Network preferences.
  4. Tap an option. These vary by phone and Android version. Turn on Wi-Fi automatically: Have Wi-Fi automatically turn on near saved networks.

How do I restore my Internet connection? ›

Restart your device.

Open your Settings app and tap Network & internet or Connections. Depending on your device, these options may be different. Turn Wi-Fi off and mobile data on, and check if there's a difference. If not, turn mobile data off and Wi-Fi on and check again.

How do I restore network connection? ›

There are plenty of ways you can restore a lost internet connection.
...
Follow these network troubleshooting tips and you'll be up and running in no time.
  1. Check Your Settings. ...
  2. Check Your Access Points. ...
  3. Go Around Obstacles. ...
  4. Restart the Router. ...
  5. Check the Wi-Fi Name and Password.
18 Apr 2019

What will happen if I reset my network settings? ›

Like iPhone, resetting Android network settings brings Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, VPN, and cellular connections to the original state. If you want to use them again, you need to establish them from the very beginning.

Does unplugging a router reset it? ›

For some people the easiest way to reboot the router is to unplug the power supply, wait 30 seconds, then plug it back in again. Alternatively, there may be an on/off switch on the back of the router, in which case you can use that to turn it off, wait 30 seconds, and then turn it on again.

What happens when you press Reset button on router? ›

A reset restores your modem to its factory default settings. It will also erase any customized settings you may have changed, including static IP address setup, DNS, personalized password, WiFi settings, routing and DHCP settings.

What is the difference between a router and a modem? ›

Have you ever asked, "do I need a modem and router?" To put it simply, the modem connects your home to the Internet, while a router creates the network inside your house.

Does Resetting router change Wi-Fi password? ›

It's important to note that when you reset your home router you will lose all of your current network settings, like the name of the Wi-Fi network, its password, etc.

How long does it take for a WiFi router to reset? ›

Electrical current can still travel through the circuits (the capacitors, to be exact) for several seconds after the power is disconnected, so to be on the safe side, wait a minimum of 30 seconds to allow the router to fully cycle down and clear its memory. Many sources say to wait one full minute, just to be sure.

What happens when I press the WPS button on my router? ›

The WPS button simplifies the connection process

Press the WPS button on your router to turn on the discovery of new devices. Then, go to your device and select the network you want to connect to. The device is automatically connected to the wireless network without having to enter the network password.

How do I get my Wi-Fi back after resetting network? ›

restart your pc and router and try again. Restart the computer at the end of all commands. If the problem persists, try these steps:Settings> Network and Internet> Status, click Network Reset on the right side, follow the instructions.

Will I lose anything if I reset network settings on iPhone? ›

No data or media are deleted. Reset Network Settings: All network settings are removed. In addition, the device name assigned in Settings > General > About is reset to “iPhone,” and manually trusted certificates (such as for websites) are changed to untrusted. Cellular data roaming may also be turned off.

Does network Reset help? ›

In simple words, network reset or resetting network settings restores all the network-related features and settings to their original values — factory state. These include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, VPN, Network adapters, and Ethernet. Everything inside Settings > Network & Internet will return to their default values.

How do I reset the network on my iPhone? ›

Reset your Network Settings

Go to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset [Device] > Reset > Reset Network Settings. This also resets Wi-Fi networks and passwords, cellular settings, and VPN and APN settings that you've used before.

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