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Why is my Wi-Fi not working?

Wi-Fi router a possible cause to wifi not workingThere are several things that can cause a Wi-Fi connection to stop working and steps that you can do to fix the problem. Below is a list of steps in order of most common to cause this problem.

Wi-Fi is not turned on

If you have a laptop, most modern laptops have a button that can turn on and off the Wi-Fi on your computer as a security feature. Make sure your Wi-Fi is turned on by looking at any button or status light indicator. Typically, the light will be either blue or green when enabled.

Verify the wireless connection is enabled

In Windows, make sure the connection is not disabled by clicking the Start button, type network connection in the Search text box, and click on the View network connections option.

Tip: In Windows 8, type network connection anywhere on the Start screen and select the View network connections option in the search results. In Windows 10, type network connection in the search text box next to the Start button and click the View network connections option in the search results.

In the Network Connections window, if your wireless connection is listed, right-click on the connection and select "Enable." If you see "Disable", the network connection is already enabled.

Verify that the SSID and security key are correct

Wireless connection listingIf your wireless network shows multiple available wireless networks, make sure you are connecting to the right SSID (router name) and that you have entered the correct security key. If you are connecting to a neighbor's router or are entering the wrong security key, the laptop will not be able to connect to the network.

Make sure the Internet is working

If you can connect to your Wi-Fi device but your Internet is not working, the issue may be your Internet service and not your computer. Verify the Internet connection is working and is not the problem by making sure another device, like another computer, smartphone, or tablet, can connect to the Internet. If the Internet works on another device, it is safe to assume that the issue is the computer.

Reset Modem and Router

It is not uncommon for DSL modem, Cable modem, or network router to encounter problems that prevent one or more devices from connecting to the network. To help verify this is not the problem, disconnect the power from the back of the modem and router. Once disconnected, wait 10-15 seconds and then reconnect the power. Wait several minutes for the modem and router to reconnect to the Internet, then test the Internet connection on your computer. If you are still having problems, try rebooting the computer again.

Disable firewalls

Windows firewallHaving more than one software firewall installed on the computer can cause a lot of issues with your network connection. To help verify this is not a problem, we suggest temporarily disabling any firewalls on the computer. Disable the Windows Firewall or any Firewall that comes with security programs.

Restore Windows to an earlier copy

If you are using Microsoft Windows and the Wi-Fi has worked in the past, try restoring Windows to an earlier copy. In some cases, bad software or settings may have caused problems with your Wi-Fi adapter or problems with Windows being able to access the Internet connection.

Reinstall wireless device and drivers

Corrupt drivers or other issues with the wireless drivers is one of the most common causes for why you may not be able to see any Wi-Fi networks or have problems detecting your wireless card. Make sure you are not having driver issues by following the steps below.

Remove the device and let Windows re-detect the Wi-Fi card

  1. Open Windows Device Manager.
  2. In the Device Manager, expand the Network adapters section to see all network devices.
  3. Highlight your Wi-Fi or Wireless network adapter and press the Delete key on the keyboard to remove the device. If there is a check box to uninstall the drivers, leave it unchecked for the time being.
  4. Once the device has been removed, close all windows, reboot the computer, and let Windows re-detect and install the network card.

If letting Windows re-detect and install the wireless card does not resolve your issue, it may be the drivers themselves. Follow the steps below to reinstall the network card and wireless drivers.

Reinstall the latest network drivers

  1. Located and download the network drivers for your network adapter or computer. If possible, we recommend getting the drivers directly from the network adapter or computer manufacturer (e.g. Dell, HP, Linksys, or Netgear).
  2. Open Windows Device Manager
  3. In the Device Manager, expand the Network adapters section to see all network devices.
  4. Highlight your Wi-Fi or Wireless network adapter and press the Delete key on the keyboard to remove the device. If there is a check box to uninstall the drivers, check the box.
  5. Once the device has been removed, close all open windows and install the downloaded drivers. If there is a setup or other executable file for the drivers, run that file.
  6. Reboot the computer and test the Internet connection to see if it works.

Reposition wireless router or computer

If your computer has difficulties maintaining a strong signal with your wireless router, it can cause connectivity issues. Make sure this is not a problem by trying to re-position the router and its antennas. If you have a laptop, you can also move the laptop closer to the router to help determine if it is a signal strength issue.

If you are having signal strength issues, consider getting a range extender (repeater) for your home or office to make sure all areas get a strong signal. Alternatively, you can try changing the router's frequency to reduce signal interference from other wireless devices in the home or office.

Hard reset the laptop

If you have a laptop, try hard resetting the laptop by following the steps below. Doing a hard reset can fix various random issues with hardware being detected properly.

  1. Close all windows and shut down the laptop.
  2. Once the laptop is off, disconnect the AC adapter (power) and remove the battery.
  3. After removing the battery and disconnecting the power cord, leave the computer off for 30 seconds and while off, press and hold the power button in 5-10 second intervals.
  4. After 30 seconds, put the battery back in the computer and connect the power cord.
  5. Turn on the laptop and as the computer is booting, enter CMOS setup.
  6. In CMOS setup, reset the CMOS settings to the default settings, Save the settings, and then Exit the setup.

If after following the above steps, the Wi-Fi still does not work, try removing the Wi-Fi adapter from the Device Manager and rebooting your laptop to see if Windows detects the Wi-Fi adapter again.

Upgrade router firmware

If you have never had success with the computer connecting to the router, try upgrading the router's firmware. Updated firmware can help fix issues with the router, including connection issues.

Operating system corruption

If after following all of the above steps, your Wi-Fi connection is still not working and it has worked before, the issue may be related to file corruption in the operating system. As a last resort, to help verify if you have bad hardware, we suggest erasing everything and reinstalling your operating system. Doing this can help verify everything is clean on the computer and no other problems exist.

Bad hardware

If you have tried all of the above suggestions and still have not been able to get the Wi-Fi connection to work, it is likely that the Wi-Fi adapter or related hardware is defective. If you have a desktop with a wireless expansion card, we suggest replacing the expansion card. If you have a desktop with Wi-Fi built into the motherboard (on-board), we suggest checking any antenna cable and if verified to be okay, have the motherboard replaced. If you have a laptop, we suggest having the laptop serviced.

If you Wi-Fi is not working for multiple devices and you have done all of the above steps, it is more likely a problem with your router. We recommend that you consider replacing the router.

Workaround

If replacing hardware is not in the budget or you need a quicker solution, a workaround would be to connect a USB network adapter to the computer. These adapters are relatively cheap and can be installed quickly into the computer assuming nothing else is wrong with the computer. Once installed, you can use the USB network adapter for your Wi-Fi connection.

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