Wireless (802.11) Troubleshooting


Potential Symptoms

  • Low bandwidth / High Ping / Packet Loss
  • Intermittent Service
  • Low Range
  • Unable to Connect to Wi-Fi (Gathering Network Requirements / Other Error)
  • SSID isn’t listed
  • Can’t remember WPA key


  • Environmental Factors
  • General Advice

Low bandwidth / High Ping / Packet Loss

Items to Check for

  • Verify connection speed while wired to router / wired to modem
  • Verify Wireless connection speed
    • Network connection speed should be
      • 54Mbps on Wireless G
      • 72Mbps+ on Wireless N
      • 150Mbps+ on Wireless AC
    • PC: Go to Network Connections > Status: See ‘Speed’ field
    • Mac: Hold ‘Option’ key  > click WiFi icon on top bar > See TX Rate / Transfer rate
    • Android: Settings > WiFi > click on connected network, there may be an item for Link Speed (Varies by OS / Phone / Provider)
    • IOS: Not available
    • Move closer or troubleshoot range/interference issues to try to improve
  • Check Wireless Adapter specs (Device Manager > Google the Network adapter name)
  • Watch out for low quality/small USB WiFi Adapters
  • Check for Environmental Factors

Intermittent Service

Check the Following:

  • Environmental Factors
  • When service goes out:
    • WiFi Status (does wifi disconnect?)
    • Router / Modem Lights
    • Other devices connection (wired/wireless)
  • Ping router / modem / website ongoing
    • When issue occurs, see which ping(s) start dropping packets

Use Windows WLAN report to see connection info

Unable to Connect to Wi-Fi

This Symptom is when you are able to see the WiFi and attempt to connect to it but Windows/Mac returns an error or does not complete the connection process.

This can happen if the Network key is incorrect or if the device does not get proper IP information.

  • Powercycle Router
  • Ensure Network key is correct
  • Try a different Device
  • Troubleshoot DHCP/No IP problems
    • netsh and reboot device
  • Try Setting a Static IP in the correct subnet and browse
  • Factory reset router (if no devices connect)
  • Refer to PC Technician (if only this device doesn’t connect)

SSID isn’t listed

  • Check Router Lights to ensure it’s broadcasting WiFi
  • Check that WiFi is on in Device Settings (can see other networks)
  • Move within range of WiFi
  • Check that WiFi is broadcasting on compatible channel (1-11 2.4Ghz)
    • Custom firmwares / International routers can broadcast on different channels not allowed in North America
  • Check that WiFi SSID is not hidden in router settings.
  • Check for damage on wireless router antenna
  • Check wireless router power supply – ensure it matches input specs on router

Can’t remember WPA key

If you can’t remember your WPA key then you have 2 options

  1. Using a device that’s already connected to the network (wired/wifi)
    1. Access the router’s web interface and find/change the WPA key
  2. Factory reset the router and setup the WiFi again from scratch.

Low Range


  • Environmental Factors
  • Router output set to maximum
  • Damage to Router
  • Router is using proper power supply
  • Damage to WiFi transeiver on device

Environmental Factors

Electromagnetic Interference normally from Appliances/Motors

  • Air Conditioning
  • Fans
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Refrigerators
  • Microwaves
  • etc

Signal Blockers

  • Humidity
  • Thick walls
  • Forced air ducts
  • Metal objects
  • Aquariums

Radio Interference

  • Other devices using 2.4Ghz / 5Ghz
  • Other wireless networks in the area
  • Baby monitors
  • Wireless Security Cameras
  • Bluetooth
  • Wireless keyboards/mice

General Advice

  • locate your router in a central location, close to all your devices,
  • have as many wired devices as possible (wireless devices SHARE the signal)
  • use a powerline Wi-Fi extender to place a better located and/or second access point in your house
  • replace your router with a higher powered and/or dual band router.
    • Look for a router with external antennas and high signal gain

See Also:




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One Response to Wireless (802.11) Troubleshooting

  1. Anonymous says:

    If no wifi light on the router, check for a wifi switch or power problems.

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