What To Do If Your Internet is Not Working: 9 Ways To Troubleshoot

Nowadays, just about everyone relies on their internet connection. Whether it’s to watch your favorite streaming service, catch up on the news or work from home, the internet has become a huge part of our lives. So, when the internet isn’t working, it feels like we’ve entered back into the Dark Ages.

Is your internet not working? These issues can be incredibly frustrating, but thankfully they can be fairly simple to fix. If you are trying to figure out what to do if your internet is not working, try these tips on how to troubleshoot your internet so you can get it back up and running.

1. Test a different device

Try another device, such as a smartphone or a tablet, and see if it will connect to WiFi. If a different device connects, then the problem for your internet not working may be with the device you are using.

Also, using multiple devices at the same time may be interfering with bandwidth and speed. If multiple people are using the internet at the same time on different devices, this may be part of the problem.

What to do if the problem is your device

man testing WiFi on multiple devices because internet not working

If you’ve concluded that the problem is with your device, go through these steps to get to the bottom of your problem.

  • Make sure WiFi is turned on: Make sure the device's WiFi is turned on. If it's on your computer, there should be a button or switch that you can press/flip to turn the WiFi on and off, manually. If you determine that your computer's WiFi is off, switch it on and try to connect again. If it's with a smartphone or tablet, go to Settings and connect to WiFi there.
  • Reboot your device: If you still can't connect to the internet, reboot your device. Oftentimes, a simple reboot will fix simple problems, as it allows the device to reset itself.
  • Make sure you are in the correct network: If restarting doesn't fix the issue, go to your network preferences to make sure that you're signing in to the correct network. Also, make sure you're entering the correct password. Enter the password carefully and slowly, one letter/number/character at a time. Make sure that the caps lock isn't on. WiFi passwords are case-sensitive so make sure you enter each character correctly.
  • Check your signal: Once you have checked the username and password and are sure you're entering it correctly, your connectivity issues might be related to signal strength. Take a look at the bars beside your network's name. Do you have full bars or just one? If there are very few bars, your signal strength might be weak. Move closer to your router and try again.
  • Setup wizard: Run your network diagnostics and setup wizard. If you're using a PC, right-click the network icon in the notification area and select: “Troubleshoot Problems". Follow the steps in the wizard. If you're on a Mac, go to the Apple menu in the top left-hand corner of your screen and select “Network." Click “Assist Me" and then select “Diagnostics." Once the network diagnostics window opens, walk through the steps as prompted.
  • Temporarily turn off security features: As a last resort, turn off your firewall and other security features temporarily and try again to get online. If you're able to access the internet, then something is wrong with your firewall. Contact technical support to determine the issue. You don't want to browse the internet without firewall protection, as it can leave you susceptible to malicious attacks.

2. Check your router

person checking their router because internet not working

Your wireless router will have a series of icons that mean different things. Grab your user manual to find out what each icon represents. You want to pay attention to the one that designates connection to the internet. If that light is out, the WiFi isn't channeling an internet connection. If it's on, the internet service itself isn't working.

Router not working?

Before you do anything else, restart your router and modem. You might have just temporarily hit a bug, and a quick reboot will fix it. If you’ve determined that your problem may be with your router, use these steps to restart your router and modem.

Step 1: Unplug the router and the modem from the power source. If your modem or router has a battery backup, make sure to temporarily remove the batteries.

Step 2: Wait at least 30 seconds.

Step 3: Plug the router and modem back into the power source. If you remove any batteries, make sure to put them back in.

Understanding your router's icons

If you’ve lost or misplaced your user manual and have no clue what each icon on your router means, that’s okay. You can usually find a digital copy of the manual on Google by typing in your device model number followed by “user manual.”

For quick reference, most routers have a series of icons that illuminate to convey different statuses. Even though these icons can vary from brand to brand, most will include three primary status indicators for "Online," "WiFi" and "Ethernet."

If everything is working properly, these icons should illuminate with a solid color or have a blinking green or blue light. When there is an issue with connection, these icons usually turn red or orange. If it’s red or unlit, then this may show that there is currently no connection. If the color is orange, then this indicates that there is a problem or limited connectivity.

3. Reconnect to your WiFi

Make sure that your router is free from clutter. If there's anything sitting on top of or next to it, try moving it so it isn't blocked. Also, if you have thick walls, your signal strength may be compromised. Make sure you keep your router and modem in an open space.

If restarting your modem and router doesn't work, it's time to move on to a new step.

Note: Make sure that you're connecting through the right frequency. You might have access to a 5G option. Sometimes, these passwords are different from each other. Try each one separately.

Why is my WiFi not working?

If you click on the wifi icon on your device, you should see an internet connection map of sorts — this will look a little different, depending on what operating system your computer uses. The window will show where connections occur.

For example, you'll see whether your computer is picking up the WiFi or if it's connecting to the internet. You can click on any stage of connection to perform a troubleshoot from your computer. If that yields no results, then your modem or router could be causing problems.

The best way to determine whether it's an internet problem or WiFi problem is by plugging directly into your router to see if that solves the problem.

4. Try a different Ethernet cable

When you use WiFi, there are various factors that can slow down your connection. Test your WiFi by connecting your computer directly to the router with an Ethernet cable. If that solves the problem, then your WiFi signal is the culprit.

5. Get a WiFi extender

If the WiFi icon on your computer has low bars, your router may not be in the best position. You could move your router to a more central location or get a WiFi extender. If you already have a WiFi extender, you may want to invest in a new one such as a mesh system.

6. Troubleshoot WiFi on your devices for Windows and Mac

If your WiFi is the source of your internet problems, use these tips to troubleshoot on all of your devices.

Run the internet troubleshooter (Windows)

If you are using Windows, run the troubleshooter program that is built into your computer. This will determine if your machine can run a diagnostic and fix the issue for you. If you aren’t sure how to do this, Microsoft’s Fix WiFi connection issues page has helpful tips that’ll walk you through the process.

Run Apple Diagnostics (Mac)

If you have a Mac, the built-in diagnostic program is called Apple Diagnostics (or Apple Hardware Test on models from earlier models). This program scans for issues on your computer including any WiFi issues you may be experiencing.

Before you run Apple Diagnostics, disconnect Ethernet cables, hard drives or an external DVD. Then, hit restart and hold down the “D” key as the computer is rebooting. It’ll then prompt you to pick a language and then the diagnostic should launch automatically.

Clear your DNS cache

Clearing your DNS cache can be a miracle-worker when it comes to slow internet and WiFi problems. This will clear your browsing history and the logs of all the websites you’ve visited which can sometimes cause glitches in your system.

Check your IP address

If you have multiple routers on the same home network, there's a chance there are multiple devices that are assigned the same IP address or something has prevented your computer from assigning one. This will cause issues because your computer needs a unique IP to get on the internet.

7. Scan for viruses

woman on her laptop next to dog

Sometimes, your wifi can be affected by viruses. Do a scan for viruses or malware that could be significantly affecting your ability to connect to the internet. Certain computers such as Windows 10 come with a virus scanner included, but if your computer does not there are applications you can download that do a nice job.

8. Call your service provider

Say your router indicates a connection, but you can't get on the internet. Your computer might say something like “no connection." In this case, your provider may have hit a snag. Call the company and let them know you aren't able to access the internet.

Several things could happen at this stage: The operator may take you through a troubleshooting process, or you may discover that there's an outage in your area. If you're given instructions, follow them to a "T" and let the operator know what you're doing. Hopefully, working with the operator who knows the system well will return your connection.

However, internet outages do occur, and you may be left high and dry for a couple of hours. Many service providers compensate customers when an outage occurs by giving them a credit on their next bill. Don't be afraid to ask for this service if your connection loss is a result of such an outage — you do pay for continuous internet, after all.

9. As a last resort, reset your router to default settings

If you’ve tried everything else and nothing has worked, you could reset your router to its default settings. However, be aware that this will restore the router to the way it was when you first purchased it. Basically, it will wipe the slate clean.

When you restart your router, it’ll erase your password, custom features, guest networks and kick off all the devices that were signed onto the network.

If you decide to take matters into your own hands and reset your router to default settings, here’s how you do it:

Step 1: Unplug the router.

Step 2: Use a small pin-like object like a paperclip to push the hidden button in the tiny hole at the back of the router.

Step 3: Hold it down for a few moments and then plug the router back in.

Step 4:  Set up the router again just like new.

It’ll take some time to get everything back up and running, so this is definitely a last resort.

Fix your connection when your internet is not working

In today's day and age, WiFi is essential, it's even more essential to know how to fix it when and if it goes out while staying on your secure network. Whether you’re cruising the internet for a new rental unit or trying to join your Zoom meeting for work, these steps can help you have the internet back up and running in no time.

Sage SingletonSage Singleton is a freelance writer with a passion for literature and words. She enjoys writing articles that will inspire, educate and influence readers. She loves that words have the power to create change and make a positive impact in the world. Some of her work has been featured on LendingTree, Venture Beat, Architectural Digest, Porch.com and Homes.com. In her free time, she loves traveling, reading and learning French.

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