Common Router problems and their solutions
Currently, home internet runs most of the smart devices, online gaming platforms and streaming video services, making the need for a strong internet connection, a basic need.
What happens when your router sours up your day, especially if you work from home and more often than not, most households end up contacting their Internet Service Providers to solve the issue, without carrying out the basic checks on their router. Here we will go through some of the common router problems and their solutions.
Your internet is slow
If you’re using an ISP-provided router, then your buggered. Its time to hit the power switch on your router and wait for it to reboot and reconnect. Most of the routers provided by ISP’s are buggy and require frequent restarts.
Here in the UK I’ve seen some of the most horrific routers by XLN and Talktalk. The router you have depends on the nature of the beast you have acquired. It may be comforting to note that the DSL path to the exchange is usually managed by a common provider, here in the UK its OpenReach.
To check your connection speed you will need to disconnect all other devices from your router, including devices connected by wifi and connect your computer with a single wired cable to perform the speed test.
Ensure you are using a gigabit network cable between your computer and your device. Gigabit network cables have transmission rates of 1000Mbps.
Run your speed test to see if the speed is as expected. If after your restarts, you still have no luck, its time to delve into the deep ends and take a look under the hood at your router configuration. Its not really that scary.
First you need to login to the router. The login details of ISP provided routers are written on the back of the router. For other manufacturers there is ofcourse routerpasswords.com, no pun intended, or your user manual – which ofcourse you have kept somewhere safe.
Once you have logged into the router you should look for the section which shows the SNR Margin, (for DSL and Fibre) and ensure it is 6dB or below, the router also records your connection speed when it negotiates the connection so take a note of this,
If you have a high SNR Margin, say 18dB, then it means your line may be suffering other problems. A high SNR margin means there is some interference between the connection. First you should check the line you are connected with for noise by picking up the phone.
Your pages take too long to load
On shared DSL and cable you are effectively sharing the same bandwidth with your subscribers. Network congestion may be the cause of your slow internet. You should check your speeds throughout the day to see if your ISP is over subscribed.
You’ve forgotten your router’s password
To access your router you need to login to the routers web interface using a web browser (such as Chrome or Edge). You will visit an address like http://192.168.0.1/ to access the web interface. This IP and Password to login to the settings is usually placed on a sticker on the back of the router.
Tech Tip: The router is usually your default gateway. You can see your default gateway by typing “ifconfig” on the mac terminal or ipconfig on the windows cmd
If you have changed the password or forgotten the password, use the routers reset button on the back to reset the password back to factory defaults. Most ISP routers will retain your original DSL details and revert the passwords back to the defaults on the back of the router.
If you are using a non ISP supplied router then you can find the default password after you have reset the router here on routerpasswords.com
Sometimes your internet disconnects
Surprisingly bad weather can also cause the your internet service to become interrupted. It may be cabling running to your house or some outage at the service provider. You should do ping tests and see if its a common issue. Your ISP will be able to help by doing a line test and adjusting any signal levels. On a network level you should check if the connection is dropping or if its a local issue.
Your neighbours are stealing your wireless signal
If your wireless has no encryption or using an old encryption scheme (WEP), anyone with a bit of knowledge can connect and use your network, slowing your internet connection down. The result; slower browsing experience for you, the risk doing illegal activities using your Internet account, your address and your name or even watching your cctv cameras without your knowledge.
If you think your neighbour is stealing your internet you can change your password. Most ISP-supplied and recent routers on the market offer the atleast WPA2-PSK and that is still the strongest wifi standard. You can login to your router using the settings password on the back of the router and change your wifi password.
You dont get a wireless signal in your kitchen/garden/shed
Although these funky routers are great for most homes, occasionally you will run into a blind spot or not enough signals. For a permanent solution you should get yourself an access point. I recommend the Unifi Access points. They are a great way to extend wireless seamlessly.
Your ping times are high and your have lag
Be sure to check nothing is stealing the valuable bandwidth. Where else could your bandwidth be used? Think of the devices that you have connected around your house. Your Satellite STB, your TV, your DVR, speakers, computer, phone, laptop, CCTV – These could be using some bandwidth or if they’ve compromised, like the recent Mirai IOT Botnet which created record DDOS traffic you could be a bot sitting in the middle of a warfield.
If you’re into gaming and lag times are important for you, id definitely recommend a better router with faster processor and greater antennas, like the Netgear Nighthawk NX10. More on that soon.
Troubleshooting Your Router
- Restart the Router. The number one culprit, the router. Power down your router from the plug, wait 10 seconds and power it on again. Make sure all cables are afixed firmly. Wait up to 5 minutes for your router to boot up and make connection with the service provider.
- Check if you have 2G and 5G. Wifi operates on the 2.4khz and 5.0khz bands. Often by default router transmits 2 wifi signals with seperated SSIDs as -2G and -5G this usually indicates that the router is transmitting on both frequencies, 5G frequencies are great when you are close to the access point (router) and offer superior speeds in Wireless AC but the signal and throughput deteriorate greatly as the distance between the device and access point increases or if you are behind walls. The 2G network however slower than 5G offers better signal through walls and at greater distances. So be sure to connect to the 2G network if you are experiencing signal problems.
- Change your Wi-FI Channel. As you add new devices in your home they connect to your network and some for example wireless cameras and speakers operating on the same wireless band, can interrupt your signal strength. On your router’s admin settings you can login and change your routers wireless channel to a band which has less congestion. Speak to your ISP to help you do this if you do not know.
- Go Wired. If you are using a wireless connection and have access to the LAN ports on your router, disable the wireless connection and use a LAN cable to connect the internet to your PC. Wireless signals can easily be disrupted and it is not advisable to use them for critical tasks. Try to wire up for maximum speed and reliability
- Reset your Router. Check your Router settings and reset your router using the hardware reset switch on the back. This will restore your router to factory defaults and eliminate any problems caused by corruption or bad settings.
- Update Router Firmware. Check the manufacturer’s website for firmware updates to your router. Updates make an incredible difference in performance especially if you are using older router models. However, update process varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but all of them have a place to accommodate router settings upgrade. Some routers can check for an update automatically and some you have to manually choose a file. After updating firmware be sure to restart your devices.
- Contact your Service Provider Normally, this is the last resort especially after trying everything, but if you are still experiencing Internet connection issues contact your service provider to check your service status as there could be a problem from their end.
Useful Telephone Numbers
- BT (Residential) : 0800 111 4567 or 0330 123 4567
- BT (Business) : 0800 800 154
- Virgin- Tel: 08000643836.
- Sky Broadband- Tel: 0800 031 6608.
- Talk Talk Business- Tel: 0800 083 3003
- Plusnet Residential : 0800 432 0200 or 0345 140 0200
- Plusnet Business: 0800 028 0282 0330 123 912