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Wi-Fi represents one of the best ways to get our devices online today. Different places have different networks, and they all give us access to the wider web without needing to use any of the data we might have in our personal plans.
Provided you know the security details, the process of connecting to Wi-Fi is usually quick and requires but a few steps. However, there are times when your computer puts up a frustrating fight when you want it to connect.
This can be true even when other devices seem to have no issues, and we’ll discuss what you might do to solve this problem.
One of the most annoying problems you might have with Wi-Fi is that other devices seem to be able to access the network when yours cannot. In other cases, you may have several of your own devices, and all of them, but your computer can see and connect to the Wi-Fi network just fine.
Before we get into the different troubleshooting methods you can try with specific devices, we’ll discuss some of the general causes for this and what you might do about it.
1. If you’re trying to connect your computer to a private Wi-Fi network, you may not have the required credentials for it. This could be true even in an environment where you might typically expect to have access, such as a workplace.
Sometimes, a business might want only specific devices they provide to employees to have access to that Wi-Fi network.
2. Your specific computer might have compatibility issues with the network in question. Although this is rare, some devices might not be able to see or detect particular Wi-Fi networks. In other cases, it might connect but disconnect randomly and often or have a slow connection speed.
3. If the network is public but you think your computer should be compatible with it, there is some internal problem with either the computer or router that is preventing your specific device from forming a stable connection.
Potential causes here include, but are not limited to, network card settings, router settings, or bandwidth issues. We will discuss these and other things in the appropriate sections for troubleshooting different devices.
4. There is some problem with the Wi-Fi network’s protocols that prevent your device from connecting. Other devices are reading the protocols properly, but your computer is having some hiccup along the way and may need to reconfigure or reset something.
The first place we’ll look is with the routers and modems that are supposed to provide the Wi-Fi connection. If there is an issue with the one of these devices, it is possible that some electronics with Wi-Fi capabilities can still communicate enough with them to connect while others cannot.
We can look at why this might be, and we can present possible steps you might take in order to solve the issue once and for all.
This list may not be exhaustive, but it provides some of the most common issues you may come up against, and it lays out how you might solve these problems quickly.
1. Performing a reset
It may seem simple, but there are occasions when all it takes to solve your problem is a good reset. Before you give into anything more complex, try resetting the router, modem, or both for at least 30 seconds to see if that fixes the connectivity issue.
2. Status indicators
Both the router and modem should have several blinking lights on them to indicate their current status. In normal circumstances, you’re probably going to see several green lights on each device, and they may blink periodically.
If there is a problem, one of these lights may be a different color. Decoding precisely what different error lights might mean is a key step in troubleshooting a router or modem.
3. Firmware updates
The firmware on your modem or router is a type of software that helps network devices run efficiently. It should work fine if other devices can still connect to the network, but it is still a good idea to double-check this.
You can go to the appropriate site for your router’s manufacturer to find out how to run a firmware update that may fix the issue. Always use the downloadable firmware for the make and model of your router or modem. Don’t try to download third-party firmware to fix this issue.
4. Router positioning
Maybe the router is just not as ideally placed as it could be to handle the number of devices trying to connect to it in a given area. Repositioning it to a more central location may solve the issue.
5. Device Issues
If your other devices can still connect to the Wi-Fi network but a single one cannot, this usually points to an issue with that device itself. However, it is still a good idea to know how to troubleshoot some of the common issues a router or modem could face, too.
Since it is a particular computer that doesn’t seem to be able to connect to the Wi-Fi network of your choice, it is likely that the issue is with the device itself rather than a router or modem. There are a few things to check here, and a few ways you can go about narrowing down the root cause of the connectivity issue.
As with the modem or router, it is a good idea to try a simple restart. While the problem could be more complex, we’d be remiss if we didn’t suggest the simplest solution first.
Sometimes, turning something off and then on again really can be the only thing you need to do.
2. Run the automatic troubleshooter.
Many operating systems come with troubleshooting programs of their own in order to find problems for you and suggest solutions.
For example, Windows has an internet troubleshooter that you can run by going to the ‘Start’ menu and searching for ‘Troubleshooting’
This should bring up several options, and you should see one that is labeled ‘Find and fix network problems’. This can scan your network or network adapter card to see if it is responsive.
It will also look for any other related issues that could be causing the problem. The troubleshooter should always be an early step here, and it can sometimes narrow the list of potential issues quite quickly.
3. Rename the SSID
While this might seem unlikely if not all devices are showing issues, it is possible that a convoluted SSID name is just confusing your computer somehow. Renaming it could resolve the issue.
4. Test your antivirus
It is always a good idea to use some form of protection when browsing online. However, an antivirus package that is not configured correctly could be interfering with your computer’s ability to access a Wi-Fi network.
Try switching it off temporarily just to see if it solves the issue. On a related note, now is a good time to scan your system for viruses that could be causing problems, too.
The precise steps for resetting your network settings will differ slightly from one device to another. However, these steps should all be relatively similar most of the time, and they involve going into the device’s settings.
A network reset servers to remove and then reinstall network adapters on your computer and some other networking components. Things are set back to factory configurations, but it is one way to resolve many potential issues with connectivity. It is important to remember that saved networks and passwords will be forgotten once this process is complete. You will need to enter this data again manually.
- For an OS like Windows 10, go to the ‘Start’ menu and navigate to ‘Settings’.
- Click on ‘Network & Internet’ in the appropriate window. This should pull you to a screen where you can see various options. You should already be on ‘Network Status’ or something similar.
- From here, go down to ‘Network Reset’ and tell the computer to ‘Reset Now’.
- Your computer will reset all of the adapters and restart.
- Once done, you can set things up again and see if the computer will finally connect to the Wi-Fi network of your choice.
At times, there can be easy fixes to this connectivity problem. We’ve touched on some of these already when we talked about either restarting your devices or running troubleshooters.
Troubleshooting scans a particular system and could go through a list of multiple possibilities for you. In this way, you don’t have to go through every process yourself.
For whatever reason, you may just need to get a different router, a different internet package, or switch to a different frequency band on the router you already have. Upgrading with your provider is usually simple, although there is some cost associated with this solution.
Finally, you may also find that just waiting and trying again later might fix the issue. It may sound funny, but time sometimes takes care of these issues, and the magic that goes on behind the scenes in these complex machines can be that way.
Wi-Fi is one of the most convenient means of getting your devices out there and pulling data from around the world right to you. However, it doesn’t always work with every device you might try.
When these occasions arise, there are ways to check and see if the problem is with your router, your network, or the device itself. Fortunately, as long as other devices connect to the network, you have ways of getting the information you might need to help you solve the problem.