WiFi Won't Connect

As a fast-growing standard of network connectivity protocols, the WiFi family is, more and more, something that Web surfers, phone owners, and everyday people rely on as foundational for work and recreation. However, wireless connections through WiFi have more potential for being 'fiddly' than a more-stable, hard-wired connection. Experts can suggest many solutions to WiFi connection problems, nearly all of which are in the average user's grasp.

When troubleshooting a Wifi connection, always check alternative network channels and device connectivity. Test other devices' links to the same network and the problem device with other networks – strong network signals display more white bars in their icons than weak ones. In some cases, users may require a WiFi repeater to extend the coverage area or relocate the WiFi router, if possible.

Users also should turn off any network connection-blocking utilities, including firewalls and various cyber-security products, such as anti-virus suites temporarily. Deactivating all protection is a temporary solution for checking for interference; if necessary, consult the company's directions for whitelisting the network and related applications. The 'Safe Mode with Networking' option, available from the 'advanced boot options' menu by tapping F8 during the boot-up sequence, is useful for disabling all unwanted software.

Note that rebooting also is preferable for troubleshooting non-working WiFi and other services. Experts recommend doing so after any significant system changes, which Windows may not register until after it loads from scratch.

Users also should confirm that the WiFi feature is 'on' in the first place. A telltale sign of its being not active is an 'airplane mode' plane icon. Some products, such as many laptops, also include a dedicated WiFi button near or on the keyboard. This button usually displays a visible light, as long as the WiFi isn't inactive.

Up-to-date drivers also are a requirement for the smooth functioning of most programs, including WiFi adapters. Windows users have a straightforward way of checking their WiFi hardware's software version. Open the Device Manager by typing its name into the taskbar and clicking the first result. Double-click the Network adapters entry and right-click the appropriate adapter. Then, choose Properties, and switch the new window to the Driver tab. The window shows the driver date and version.

Users could download a new version from the manufacturer's website (which experts recommend) or use the Windows-based update option in the device's right-click menu. Note that the latter isn't always accurate with non-Microsoft products. Installing the wrong driver can cause more functionality problems with the adapter. The 'uninstall' (removing the software completely so that users can reinstall it from scratch) and 'disable' options temporarily also are noteworthy.

Users with access to the WiFi router should consider resetting it as one of their first solutions. Old routers often experience stability problems and require restarting. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations (usually not much more complicated than unplugging the device for thirty seconds and plugging it back in).

A semi-intimidating but useful solution involves issuing system commands that reset some network settings manually. Users can reset the TCP/IP stack by opening the Command Prompt and entering the following, pressing enter after each line:

netsh winsock reset (press Enter)
netsh int ip reset (press Enter)
ipconfig /release (press Enter)
ipconfig /renew (press Enter)
ipconfig /flushdns (press Enter)

Together, these solutions cover most sources of problems with WiFi, except physical hardware failure.

Wireless connections like WiFi are the holy grail of the internet. While users may encounter some more problems with WiFi than with a physical connection, most judge the extra effort – which isn't that demanding – as more than worth it for the convenience.