15 solutions for all your Wi-Fi problems

It is hard to imagine using the internet at home without WiFi. A wireless network offers a lot of user comfort, at least as long as it runs smoothly. But sometimes it also costs you a lot of headaches, for example if you want to expand the network to get a better range or if it turns out that your WiFi signal regularly refuses service. We provide 15 solutions for all your Wi-Fi problems.

Tip 01: Losing signal

Suppose you no longer receive a reliable network signal in various places in the house. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn't. You can first try turning your wireless router or access point off and on again. If that doesn't help, check the signal with a tool like NetSpot Free (macOS and Windows) or with farproc's WiFi Analyzer mobile app (Android).

You can use this to check whether the received signal (rssi) is strong enough. This signal strength is expressed in negative dBm values. In short, -40 dBm is an excellent signal, while -80 dBm is usually insufficient. With WiFi Analyzer, tap the eye icon and choose signal meter. At NetSpot you can read the strength in the column signal.

If the signal turns out to be too weak, read tips 2 and 3. Otherwise, there is a good chance that there is interference from devices such as a microwave or a cordless telephone, especially when your Wi-Fi devices use the 2.4 GHz band: you see that in the column Band from NetSpot or in WiFi Analyzer via Channel chart.

Tip 02: Channel Overlap

It is also possible that there are neighboring networks that use (almost) the same channel within the 2.4GHz spectrum. NetSpot shows that if you successively Details and Channel 2.4GHz clicks, at WiFi Analyzer do you go to the option Channel chart.

It usually helps to set up a different channel for your home network on your wireless router or access point, preferably one that is at least five numbers away from the strongest neighboring channel (for example, 6 if the neighbor's is 1 or 11). The option Channel Rating of WiFi Analyzer itself proposes an optimal channel choice.

You can also use the free WiFi Channel Picker tool, it only works on the 2.4GHz band (Windows). Start the tool, indicate the SSID of your network and press the button Evaluate: you read the recommended channel number at best channel.

Tip 03: Limited range

A signal that is too weak (see tip 1) usually indicates that your wireless router is not optimally positioned (see also tip 5) or that the signal simply does not reach your mobile device. If you cannot get closer to the router with your device, the problem may be solved by purchasing a so-called mesh router with corresponding access points (satellites). But those quickly cost towards 350 or 400 euros (like the NetGear Orbi RBK50). A much cheaper solution is a WiFi repeater or range extender, with prices from around 30 to 70 euros. Place the device somewhere between your router and the intended reception location, but keep in mind that this will cut the speed of the WiFi signal in half. Also make sure that the repeater supports simultaneous dual-band so that it can simultaneously serve devices on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

A possible alternative is a powerline set, where you connect one adapter to your router and place the other in the room where you want extra signal. Both adapters pass the signal on to each other via the electricity network. Count on around 60 to 100 euros for a set.

Tip 04: Additional router

You can also use a second router to increase the range of your wireless network, for example if your provider's modem/router is in an unfortunate place like the meter box. If that modem/router supports bridge or repeater mode, you hardly have to do more than activate it. If not, it will require some more configuration work. Such an approach has already been discussed in detail in this article.

Temporarily connect your PC via a network cable to router 2. Enter the IP address of this router in your browser and log in to the web interface of this router. Give router 2 a previously unused IP address that is within the same network segment of router 1. Specifically, this means that you only need to change the last digit (for example, 192.168.0.100 for router 1 and 192.168.0.200 for router 2). The subnet mask should be identical, probably 255.255.255.0. Turn off the dhcp service of router 2, after all, it is most likely already active on router 1. In most cases you give both routers the same ssid, but you put them on a different channel number (for example 1 and 6, see also tip 2). Set the same Wi-Fi and encryption standard on both, using the same password. Once the router 2 has been configured, you can connect it to (a switch within) your network via a LAN port.

Tip 05: Optimal place

If the signal strength in certain places in your house or garden is less, then repositioning your wireless router(s) may already help. Sometimes it is sufficient to hang them a little lower or higher or to orient the antennas differently.

In other cases you really have to hang it in a different, perhaps more central place. To find the optimal location, it is best to conduct a 'site survey': you then walk around your home (and balcony or garden) with a laptop, while continuously recording the signal strength. This creates a heat map: a map that shows where you have the best and worst reception. You can then move your router(s) based on this information, after which you perform the test again, until you have found the optimal position. A free tool for such a map is Ekahau Heatmapper (free registration required). Ideally, you first create a floor plan of your house and import that sketch into Heatmapper (via I have a map image): this way you can easily indicate where you stand when you take a measurement. Incidentally, NetSpot also has a site survey function, but this is only available in the paid version (from around 55 euros).

The position of your wireless router determines the quality of the signal

Tip 06: No Wi-Fi?

You have a device with a network port, but you find it difficult to get a network cable to that device and you do not have WiFi at that location. If it's an old laptop (or desktop) without WiFi support, chances are you can arrange it with a USB WiFi adapter. You can get such dongles from 15 euros.

Keep in mind that such adapters often only work with certain operating systems. If your device has an embedded system (for example with a media player or printer), you may not be able to get it to work. In this case, you can still look forward to a wireless bridge, also called Ethernet or client bridge. Such a device is almost the reverse of an access point. Instead of starting from a wired network to set up a wireless connection, you start from a wireless network and offer a wired connection by connecting your device to the ethernet port of the bridge. Some routers can also operate in such a wireless bridge mode. If you still have an old router, check whether it offers such a function. If not, a firmware upgrade or alternative firmware such as DD-WRT may help (see tip 11).

Tip 07: Sneaky use?

You have of course protected your wireless network well with a wpa2 key (see also tip 14), but you are not completely reassured that a neighbor is not secretly using your network. First, check the logs of your wireless router. Normally, this device keeps a list of devices that are currently – and often previously – connected to your network via your router. You can read, among other things, the IP address and the MAC address and often also the host name, operating system, model and manufacturer. If you do not trust the MAC address, you can set a filter on your router that will block access for that MAC address from now on. You can read the mac address of your own Windows systems on the command line ipconfig /all to execute, it will then appear at Physical address.

If your router does not provide the desired information, you can still use a tool such as SoftPerfect WiFi Guard. This tool is available for Windows, macOS and Linux. It is free for up to five devices, after that it costs 19 euros for a license. At the first startup you select the active network adapter and you can also set the desired scan frequency. During a scan round, all detected devices are listed and you indicate which (known) devices may be ignored from now on. You can also have an email sent when an unknown device is detected during one of the following scans. The tool also keeps a historical overview per device.

Tip 08: Password

It can happen to the best of us: you set up your wireless network a long time ago and you forgot the password. Annoying if you just want to give a new device access to your network. Fortunately, you solve that quickly. Go with your browser to the IP address of your router (usually found at Default Gateway if you give the command ipconfig from the command prompt) and find your wireless network security settings in the web interface. Normally you will read the password here, possibly after you have enabled an option such as Unmask Password.

It can also be done differently, if you have a Windows device that is connected to that network. Go to Institutions and choose Network and Internet / Status / Network Center. Click at Connections on the name of your network and press the button Wireless Network Features. Go to the tab Security and put a check next to Show characters.

Tip 09: Guest Network

You regularly get visitors and you don't feel like giving them your WiFi password. A guest network is then an excellent solution: such a network has a separate SSID and password, and is completely separated from your own wireless network. Your router must of course support such a function. You can often also set the maximum number of users that can connect to the guest network simultaneously. Sometimes a guest user must first open a browser, after which they can enter the password on a login page (a 'captive portal').

If your router does not have such a function and you cannot solve it with a firmware upgrade, you can consider a construction with a second router, whereby your router 2 then connects via the wan port to the lan port of your main router. Also make sure that both routers are operating in a different network segment, for example 192.168.0.x and 192.168.1.x. The network of your main router is then intended for your guests. It also allows you to activate alternative DNS servers with automatic content filtering, such as those from OpenDNS (208.67.220.220 and 208.67.222.222). You yourself use the network of router 2. For more explanation, you can visit the article via this link.

A guest network is a secure solution to give your visitors access to your WiFi

Tip 10: Externally accessible

More and more devices are coming onto the market that you can (wirelessly) integrate into your network and that you might also like to reach from the internet, such as an IP surveillance camera. Just like your other network devices, this device is behind your router, which means that the device has been given an internal IP address that is not easily accessible from outside. There is then little choice but to set up 'port forwarding' on your router. This will make it clear to the router that all traffic directed to your router's external IP address plus a specific port number should be automatically forwarded to that device's internal IP address plus port number.

Suppose your device has the address 192.168.0.100 and the service runs on port 88. Then open the web interface of your router and look for a heading like Port forwarding on. Create a rule stating that all requests on port 88 should be routed to that address. You may also find the necessary instructions for your router here.

Then when you surf to www.ipchicken.com from your network, you find out your router's external IP address, something like 81.82.167.69 for example. If you then go from outside to the address 81.82.167.69:88, you will arrive at the set device.

Tip 11: Firmware

If your router does not (properly) support a certain function, it is worth checking whether you can add that functionality through a firmware update of your router. First check on the manufacturer's site which adjustments you can expect after such an update, but make sure you have the correct model number.

If you indeed want to perform such an update, open the web interface of your router and look for the correct section: something like Firmware Update or Maintenance. Here you can download the corresponding firmware file. Often this works straight away, but sometimes you have to download the file to your PC first and select it from there. This way you can then perform the update, a process that you should not interrupt under any circumstances. If you do, you risk a faulty router!

If the latest firmware also does not provide the desired functionality, advanced users may consider alternative router firmware. Provided the router is compatible with such an alternative. Popular firmware is OpenWRT and especially DD-WRT. With the latter you can check to what extent your router can handle it via this link. You do it at your own risk!

Provide your WiFi equipment with up-to-date firmware, but never interrupt the update

Tip 12: Connectionless

If you suddenly can no longer use your wireless network with one of your computers, while you can still do that when you connect it via a network cable and you also experience no connection problems with your other devices, it may be due to a corrupt network profile on your PC.

Then open Command Prompt as administrator and run the command netsh wlan show profiles from. You will see a list of network profiles. Enter the command netsh wlan delete profile off, where you <profile name> replaces with the name of the problematic profile. Restart your PC. You may now be able to establish a wireless connection.

Also useful to know: the assignment netsh wlan show wlanreport gives you a comprehensive report on your Wi-Fi configuration. You can find this HTML report at C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\WlanReport\wlan-report.latest.html and view it in your browser.

Tip 13: Mobile hotspot

Are you in a location where you only have a wired connection and do you want to access the internet with your tablet in addition to your laptop? Then you can use your laptop as a mobile hotspot for your tablet. The easiest way to do this in Windows 10 is as follows: go to Institutions and choose Network and Internet / Mobile hotspot. Set the switch to On, select the (wired) Internet connection and press the button To process to both the Network name if it Network password configure.

You can also set up such a mobile hotspot via a 3G or 4G connection, both with Android and iOS. You will find the necessary instructions via this link.

Tip 14: Safety

Of course you want to set up the most secure connection to your wireless network and you wonder which measures are useful. Without a doubt the most important security remains Wi-Fi encryption and for home users that usually means WPA2 encryption with a strong password. It is true that vulnerabilities in wpa2 were found a few months ago (the krack attack), but when your data is encrypted via https or vpn (see also tip 15), the hacker cannot do anything with your data.

Check whether the latest firmware of your router and/or access points already provides a solution for krack. Via this link you will find a list of producers who have made it happen. You should definitely install that firmware.

You can also activate a mac filter so that only devices with an authorized mac address can access your network, but a little hacker can quickly circumvent such a measure. Not having the SSID of your network broadcast is also a security option that offers little added value. Both measures actually make it more difficult to add a new device to your network yourself.

Tip 15: Public hotspot

It's very tempting to use a public Wi-Fi hotspot on the go. You have to realize that, in principle, anyone who uses the same network with the right tools can intercept the data you send via your mobile device. Any data that is not encrypted, including passwords sent as plain text, can then fall into the wrong hands. It even happens that a hacker himself sets up a mobile hotspot with an innocuous-looking network name like 'Schiphol Free', precisely with the intention of luring as many users as possible into a trap.

If you still want to use a public hotspot, we recommend that you do so via a reliable VPN connection, so that your data is automatically encrypted. There are many VPN services available, such as CyberGhost (available for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android; approximately USD 66 for one year; free 7-day trial). A number of services also offer free accounts, but these often have limited speed and functionality.

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