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How to Troubleshoot Your Home Internet

If your home internet isn’t working properly, you might find out in a variety of ways. 

It could be a loading screen that never goes away. An alert that says "you are not connected to the internet." A video call that keeps freezing. An alert message from your home assistant device. Or a spinning circle icon that doesn't stop spinning.  

Regardless of how you find out that your internet hookup is having issues, it’s never the most pleasant experience. 

But there is good news: it might be an easy fix. 

If you can fix the issue yourself, you should try! The more you can do to fix issues on your own, the clearer the service call lines will be for others. 

So skip the stress, take a deep breath, and walk through the easiest fixes step by step. This troubleshooting guide will have you back up and running in no time. 

You’ll want guidance through the following steps, not all of which might apply to your situation: 

 

  • Diagnose the problem
  • Deal with a single-device connection issue 
  • Deal with a home internet network slowdown
  • Deal with a home internet network disconnection
  • Deal with a service area disruption
  • Call your internet service provider for help

 

For more info on each step, read on... 

 

Smart phone with wifi symbol on abstract background

 

How to diagnose the problem with your home internet connection

The larger issue of “my internet isn’t working” can fall into a few different categories. 

Before you can get started on troubleshooting, you need to figure out which of these you’re dealing with: 

 

  • Single-device connection issue (no, slow, or spotty internet connection for SOME devices on your home network, but not others) - If you can connect to your home internet network (via either a wired or wireless connection) using one device but not another, THIS is your issue. Make sure the device that DOES connect is connected through your home network, and not a nearby network with another name.

  • Home internet network slowdown (equally slow or spotty internet connection for EVERY device on your home network) - If EVERY device in your network is slow, THIS is likely your issue.

  • Home internet network disconnection (no internet connection for EVERY device on your home network) - If you can’t connect to the internet via your home network on any device, regardless of whether it’s via WiFi or a wired connection, THIS is likely your issue.

  • Service area disruption (no internet connection for you OR your neighbors) - If your modem or router indicator light shows NO incoming internet

 

What you’ll need to do to address the issue depends on which issue you’re dealing with. 

Confused about what these words mean? Try our Ultimate Guide to Home Internet Hardware 

 

Man and woman participate in an engaging video call in their living room

 

How to deal with a single-device connection issue

If one device connects to your home internet network (that’s the name you give to your home network when you first begin your internet service), but another won’t, then your connection issue is localized to the one offending device. 

Using the device that’s not connecting to your home internet network, try the following: 

 

1. If using a WiFi connection, move the offending device closer to your wireless router, and/or remove any obstructions or obstacles between the wireless router and the device

  • If this works, you have a WiFi signal fidelity issue
  • Leave the wireless router as unobstructed as possible
  • Use the connected device more often in closer range of the wireless router 
  • Consider purchasing a WiFi amplifying device for use on your home network
  • If this doesn’t work, proceed to 2...

 

2. In your device’s settings application, turn WiFi off, then on, then select your home network and carefully re-enter the network password

  • If this works, you had a network login issue, which is now solved
  • If this doesn’t work, you may be using the wrong network name and password connection - double-check using the WiFi connection information available on a device that IS connected to the internet via your home network, and try again
  • If this doesn’t work, proceed to 3...

 

3. Make sure your device’s operating software is fully up to date, and/or power the device completely off, then on, and try connecting again

  • If this works, you had a device software update issue causing a lapsed network connection, which is now solved
  • If this doesn’t work, proceed to 4...

 

4. Remove the power supply cord from your wireless router, wait one minute, plug it back in, and then try connecting with the offending device

  • If this works, you had a network-to-device connection issue, which is now solved
  • If this doesn’t work, proceed to 5...

 

5. If possible, try connecting to your router via a wired ethernet connection, then a WiFi connection

  • If this works, or if none of the above work, you may have a device hardware issue causing an inability to connect
  • Consult instructions from your device manufacturer

 

How to deal with a home internet network slowdown

A slowdown can show up as frequent loading screens that pop up and then go away, lag, or frequently frozen video calls on every device on your network. If the devices on your home network have less difficulty with simple tasks, such as opening new emails or visiting text-based websites, you're probably dealing with a slowdown. 

When every device on your home internet network is connected to the internet but performing slowly or intermittently, try the following: 

 

1. Move a connected device closer to your wireless router, and/or remove any obstructions or obstacles between the wireless router and the device

  • If this speeds the internet connection on your testing device, you have a WiFi signal fidelity issue
  • Leave the wireless router as unobstructed as possible
  • Use the connected device more often in closer range of the wireless router 
  • Consider purchasing a WiFi amplifying device for use on your home network
  • If this doesn’t work, proceed to 2...

 

2. Remove the power supply cord from your wireless router, wait one minute, plug it back in, and then retry your connection speed on multiple devices

  • If this works, you had a network-to-device connection issue, which is now solved
  • If this doesn’t work, proceed to 3...

 

3. Test your internet connection speed using an internet speed test at various times of day

  • If the time of day has a significant impact on your internet connection speed, you may want to consider upgrading your internet service to a higher speed and bandwidth
  • If this doesn’t work, proceed to 4...

 

4. Turn off WiFi and/or remove wired connections from various internet-enabled devices, and re-test speed on devices still connected to the internet

  • If this works, a particular device or activity may be causing an undue strain on your home network bandwidth
  • Consult instructions from your device manufacturer about reducing the bandwidth required for that device’s connection - there may be a setting adjustment you can make
  • Consider connecting to the internet via an ethernet cord for your higher-bandwidth devices
  • Consider a device upgrade and consult customer reviews regarding bandwidth requirements
  • Consider upgrading your internet service to a higher speed and bandwidth
  • If this doesn’t work, proceed to 5...

 

5. Password protect your network and reset your network password

  • If this works, you may have had outside devices taking up bandwidth on your home network, and the issue should be resolved with increased security
  • If none of the above work, you may have a service area speed and bandwidth issue causing slow internet connection

 

How to deal with a home internet network disconnection

Alert messages that warn "not connected to the internet" and don't go away even if you hit the refresh button or try a different application are an indication of a disconnection. You may also notice that the WiFi "amphitheater" symbol on your mobile device or laptop is suddenly missing or grayed out. 

If every device on your home internet network is not connected to the internet, try the following: 

 

1. Check the indicator lights on your wireless router device

  • If the “power” light is not on, plug in your router to a power supply, wait thirty seconds, and retry connecting on multiple devices
  • If the “connected to the internet” or “internet” light is not on, make sure your router is connected to the wall via coaxial cable, then remove the power supply cord from your wireless router, wait one minute, plug it back in, and then retry connecting on multiple devices
  • If both the “power” and “connected to the internet” or “internet” lights are on, remove any obstructions or obstacles between the wireless router and your home devices - keep in mind that some furniture (or old, lead-based paint still on walls or doors) may block WiFi signals - and retry connecting
  • If this doesn’t work, proceed to 2...

 

2. If possible, connect to your router via an ethernet cord connected to a computer or other device

  • If this works, you may have a signal transmission hardware issue with your wireless router and may need to upgrade it to connect to the internet via WiFi
  • If this doesn’t work, proceed to 3...

 

3. Call your Internet Service Provider, and

  • Make sure your service is connected and you’re all paid up on your bill - if it is and you’re still not getting an internet connection...
  • Request a line test... 
  • If the line test is not successful, your internet service provider will need to dispatch a technician to your area to solve the problem
  • If the line test is successful but you still can’t connect, your provider may walk you through additional advanced troubleshooting steps…
  • If these steps are unsuccessful, your provider may need to dispatch a technician to your home to help solve the problem (this could take a while)

 

How to deal with a service area disruption

As far as troubleshooting your home internet goes, some problems are as easy to fix as moving your router out from behind a couch, and some can be as difficult as removing a fallen tree. 

If the reason for your home internet downtime is an issue with the incoming line or network, there’s nothing you can do on your end - and there’s no need to worry. 

Your internet service provider should have procedures in place for restoring service, but you’ll want to keep the following in mind: 

  • You may be able to use cellular data from an internet-enabled mobile device to visit your provider’s intranet page (MyAccount for Suddenlink customers) to learn about outages and service restoration - for example, Suddenlink offers automatic text alerts through this service
  • You can always call your provider’s main customer service number (1.877.694.9474 for Suddenlink customers) and navigate menu items to service outage reporting - if your service area is already flagged with an outage report, the problem is in the hands of technicians and you can’t do anything to help
  • Never interrupt a technician service team as they’re working on a line issue, especially during inclement weather - doing so could be unsafe for you or the technicians, and every minute they spend chatting will just make the outage last longer

 

How to call your internet service provider for help

If you’re troubleshooting your home internet and the relatively easy solutions listed above don’t work, it may be time to call your internet service provider to ask for help. 

Remember the following: 

 

1. Have your documentation ready

  • Find a cable bill with your account number on it to speed up the process
  • Always keep your usernames and passwords hand

 

2. Know what you’re asking for

  • Start with automated options to make sure your service is connected and you’re all paid up on your bill
  • Check for service area outages - if a crew is already out working on an issue, there’s nothing you can do
  • If you need to talk to a solutions officer, request a line test and ask for advice or a walkthrough

 

3. Take a deep breath

  • Home internet issues can be frustrating - remember that nobody did this on purpose, and maintaining an internet service network is hard work that involves a lot of people working together

 

Unless you’re dealing with a major disruption, most disconnection issues are resolved in a matter of hours.  

 

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