A (wireless) network is a complex combination of all kinds of hardware, drivers, protocols, and software. Thus, it can be difficult to find a solution if you are stuck somewhere or something goes wrong. After all, you want to have wifi everywhere. In this article, we have collected no less than 25 Wi-Fi perils and provided possible solutions. You will see that the cause of a Wi-Fi problem can also lie elsewhere in your network.
1 Optimum position
What is the optimal position for my wireless router or access point?
To find out where you can best place your wireless router or access point, you can carry out a ‘site survey’, for example with the free Ekahau Heatmapper or with the paid version of NetSpot. The bottom line is that you install the software on a laptop, after which you walk through your home and often indicate your current location. Afterward, the tool displays the strength of the Wi-Fi signal in all those locations (‘heat map’). Repeat this procedure after moving the router or access point, for example, so that you can determine the optimal position again.
Incidentally, you should know that a wireless router emits a more or less spherical signal in almost all directions so that a lot of signals are usually lost. If you are planning to purchase an 802.11ac router, you can consider a model with beamforming. It then automatically sends the signals as much as possible to your (ac-) clients.
As far as the best position for the router antennae is concerned, we can not, unfortunately, give a clear answer, as is also apparent from this.
2 Limited ranges
The signal from my wireless router does not reach the bedroom.
There are several (possible) solutions to this problem, stating that a repositioning of your router does not help or is not possible (see question 1). You can consider using a range extender or repeater, a solution that is currently being promoted by your internet provider. Such a device is usually placed in a location where it picks up at least 50 percent of the signal from your router. Keep in mind, however, that such a repeater usually halves the speed of the Wi-Fi signal. This does not necessarily apply to multiband repeaters (such as the ASUS ExpressWay), which assign one radio to the router and use the other to connect to the client.
An alternative is a Home plug (AV) / remember. set, which can make convenient use of the power supply. A third option is the use of a second router or access point (see also question 3). Finally, you can invest in a real mesh network where one router unit is connected to your modem and the Wi-Fi signal is communicated between the other units, which provide better coverage (see the article on Wi-Fi mesh elsewhere in this edition).
3 Second router
I still have an (old) router. Can I use it to increase the wireless range?
That is indeed possible. This is easiest if your second router supports a bridge or repeater mode, but you can also set it to act as a wireless access point. The simplest setup is the one where you connect a LAN port to each of the two routers via an utp cable (and a switch). You also ensure that the wan-IP address of the second router, which is not directly connected to your modem, is within the same subnet as that of your first router – for example 192.168.0.200 when router 1 is the WLAN-IP addresses 192.168.0.1. Please note that the address you give to router 2 does not fall within the DHCP range of router 1. You both give the same subnet mask (perhaps 255.255.255.0 or / 24). In addition, disable the DHCP service on router 2.
4 Automatic switching
When I go upstairs with my mobile device, it does not (always) automatically switch to the access point on the first floor.
In most cases, it is advisable to set the same SSID on access points, as well as the same encryption standard and the same password. However, set each of them to a (so) different (possible) channel. If you now go to the other access point, a client who continuously checks whether there are access points with the same SSID in the vicinity, thanks to the strongest signal, will automatically switch to that access point.
Depending on the wireless network adapter on your laptop, you can also switch that automatically. Speed up. Open Device Manager (devmgmt.msc) and call up the properties window of your wireless network adapter. With a little luck, you will find the option on the advanced tab Roaming aggressiveness. Check what happens when you set it to a slightly higher value. On an Android device, you can consider the installation of the free app Wifi Roaming Fix, which does something similar.
My Wi-Fi connection regularly lets you know (even): one time it works, the other does not work.
In many cases, a dropping signal has to do with interference, especially when your devices connect via the 2.4 GHz band. This spectrum is also used by other devices, such as microwave ovens, cordless phones, and baby monitors. Or maybe you are plagued by neighboring wireless networks that operate on the same spectrum. In most cases, it helps to set up a different Wi-Fi channel for your own wireless network, preferably at least five channels away from that of the (most) disturbing network. Tools such as NetSpot and WIFI Channel Picker help you track down the most used channels, so you can set the ideal channel yourself.
6 Yet wifi
How do I connect my device to my wireless network without Wi-Fi?
If your device has a USB port, you can use a USB-to-Wi-Fi adapter. Such a dongle costs you between 10 and 30 euros, depending on the specifications (for example single band 802.11n versus dual-band 802.11 ac), and you can for example use on an old laptop or a Raspberry Pi without wifi support. For the latter, you will find the necessary instructions here. Is it a desktop PC that you want to provide WiFi then an internal wifi card is also an option (prices around 20 euros)?
You can of course also take a different approach and use a wireless bridge. Such a device picks up the wireless signal from your access point or router and provides a switch to which you can connect wired devices. Incidentally, there are also wireless routers and access points that can be set up as a wireless bridge.
7 Always at home
I have a wireless printer, but it is suddenly no longer available.
This may be because your printer is assigned an IP address via the DHCP service of your router. It can not be excluded that at a certain moment, for example after a reset, it assigns a different IP address to your wireless printer. You should, therefore, ensure that devices that you always want to reach at the same IP address, such as a printer, nas or IP-cam, have a fixed IP address that is outside the address pool of your router. For example, if the IP range is between 192.168.0.10 and 192.168.0.50, you could take 192.168.0.51 as an address. A handy alternative is a DHCP reservation. You then specify in your router which device, based on the device name or mac address always has to get the same IP address from the DHCP range.
8 From the outside
I have a wireless IP camera that I also like to access via the internet.
The chance is real that you have to open one or more ports on your router. If your IP camera listens on port 88, you go to a section such as Port forwarding in your router and enter the internal IP address of your IP camera and enter both the external and the internal port 88. However, it is also possible to enter 80 for the external port, for example, if you prefer not to include 88 in the URL every time you approach your IP camera.
As a protocol, you choose TCP or UDP – or both (see the manual for your IP-cam). Incidentally, you can find it here instructions for numerous router models. Annoying is that you then have to know the (current) wan-IP address of your network to reach your IP-cam. You can solve this with a dynamic DNS service – such as the free Dynu, possibly in combination with a tool such as Dynu IP Update Client (available for various platforms).
9 Mobile hotspot
How do I make a WiFi connection with my mobile device if no wireless network is available?
Suppose you have a wired connection for your laptop in your hotel room, but no Wi-Fi for your tablet or smartphone. Or you have a 4G connection to your smartphone, but there is no wired or wireless connection for your laptop. Then you turn your laptop or smartphone into a mobile hotspot. On your laptop, with Windows 10 (Jubilee update) you can do so via Settings / Network and internet / Mobile hotspot, where you set the switch to on and select the – wired – internet connection you want to share. Via Edit you can create your own SSID and password or you can use a tool as a Virtual Router.
However, your smartphone can also be used as a mobile hotspot: for Android, you will find the necessary instructions here and for iOS, you can go here.
10 Wrongly connected
I no longer connect to the wireless network with my Wi-Fi printer.
It happens more often: suddenly it no longer works to connect a WiFi device to your wireless network. This can happen, for example, when the device’s network configuration has been reinitialized for some reason. That also makes it difficult to reach your wireless printer. In that case, you connect it to the USB port of your PC, after which you try to reach the device with the tools that the manufacturer has made available or via your browser.
In that case, check what the standard IP address of the device is or use a free tool like Angry IP Scanner (for Windows, MacOS or Linux) or the mobile Android app Finito find the IP address of the devices within your network. After that, it is only a question of re-establishing the right network settings. Optionally you let the printer temporarily forget the Wi-Fi network, after which you try again.
11 No internet (1)
Apparently, I do have Wi-Fi (or a network connection), but I can not access the internet anyway.
If that applies to multiple machines, you have to look for the cause of the problem centrally. You can already start off and on again with your modem, followed by your router and any switches and access points. Then restart your client. There is a good chance that (one of) these interventions will solve the problem.
However, let us assume that the problem occurs with one device, such as your laptop. Then connect it (temporarily) via an up cable to your network. If you succeed now, you can try it by removing the wireless network profile in Windows. As an administrator, go to the command prompt and execute the command netsh WLAN show profiles, followed by netsh WLAN delete profile <name_of_profile >, where you replace <name_of_profile> with the name of the bad wifi profile (see also question 20). Then click on the network icon in the Windows system tray and then reconnect to that profile.
12 No internet (2)
Apparently, I do have Wi-Fi (or a network connection), but I can not access the internet anyway.
There are, however, other possible causes. Open the Network Center and choose Change adapter settings. Call the properties window of your (wireless) network connection, select Internet Protocol version 4, click Properties and make sure everything is set correctly, such as the default gateway and DNS servers.
If necessary, you can add a recovery tool like Net Adapter Repair All-in-One, with which you can easily reset some network settings.
Still no solution then a thorough study of the wifi report might put you on the trail. This is where command line commands netsh WLAN show WLAN report, which you execute as administrator, after which you open the resulting HTML report in your browser. More information about this and other useful commands can be found here.
13 Laptop without wifi
My laptop has wifi, but suddenly the device refuses to set up a connection.
This problem could just be due to a function key or a small (slide) button. Many laptops have a miniscule button, sometimes barely visible at the front, with which you switch the Wi-Fi adapter on and off. Or you can switch that function on or off with the help of a function key or key combination. Often you have to press the FN key together with another key.
The wifi of my old laptop is too slow for my new router.
You have bought a nice 802.11ac router, but your old laptop does not go any further than 802.11g or -n. If you want to get to the level of your router, there is little else than replacing your laptop’s wifi adapter with a newer model. First check whether (the bios of) your laptop supports the intended wifi adapter (or specification): the website of your manufacturer gives you the necessary feedback.
Optionally, a bios update can offer a solution. However, it may happen that the format of the new card does not just fit into your laptop (read: not without a bracket adapter). Also, check whether your laptop has the required number of antennas: for newer adapters, there are often three, so you may have to purchase a third antenna separately. Check whether you have the up-to-date driver after installation.
My router does not support certain functions a new one then?
It depends on. In any case, first, check whether your router is equipped with the latest firmware. With a bit of luck, a firmware update adds just the function (s) you need. This goes from eliminating now known vulnerabilities and bugs about adding features such as VPN support, wireless bridging, and QoS bandwidth allocation, to even the support of newer wifi standards.
The approach to a firmware upgrade can vary per router, but in general terms, it boils down to this: call up your router’s web interface via your browser and track down the firmware upgrade section (something like Firmware Update, Maintenance or about this Router). Then download the firmware file that belongs to your router model. Often you can do that directly, but sometimes you have to save the file to your PC first, after which you can access it via the web interface. Finally, you can perform the upgrade. It is important that you do not interrupt this upgrade process under any circumstances.
If you are more adventurous, consider installing alternative firmware such as dd-wrt or Open-WRT. First, check whether this firmware is fully compatible with your router (model).
16 My internet connection works remarkably slow.
First, check whether the speed is noticeably better if you connect the laptop directly to the modem via an up cable. You can use an online speed test as beta.speedtest.net if the speed is indeed higher; see also the answers to questions 1 to 5. Perhaps it helps if you move your laptop closer to your router or switch on a repeater or extra access point or set it to another channel (within the 2.4 GHz band).
If the problem persists, try to restart it by restarting your modem/router. If there is still no improvement, then it may be your provider.
You should also be aware that the theoretical transfer speed of a WiFi standard is practically never feasible in practice. For example, if you read that 802.11n gets 150 Mbit / s, in practice it will often go in the direction of 50 Mbit/s, and at 802.11ac the theoretical throughput (of 433 or even 866 Mbit / s) often falls to about 30 percent. This relapse can mainly be explained by the often higher overhead of a wireless connection as a result of all kinds of disruptive (environmental) factors. With a wired connection, that overhead is usually around 10 percent.
17 Forgotten passwords
I want to give new device access to my wireless network, but I have forgotten the password.
If you still know the password of the wireless router or access point, in most cases you can still retrieve the password in a section such as Wireless via the web interface of that device. If you are connected to that network via a (different) Windows device, you can also read it here. In Windows 10, however, that is deeply hidden. Go to the Network Center and click, on the right of Connections, the wireless network you are connected to. Choose Wireless network properties, open the Security tab, and place a checkmark next to Show characters.
Or you use a free tool like Magical Jelly Bean Wi-Fi password revealer but then on a Windows PC that previously connected to that network.
18 Guest network
I want to give my visitors access to my Wi-Fi network, but I prefer not to give them my password.
A possible way out – at least for visitors with an Android device – is that you create a QR code with the login ID (SSID and password) for your wireless network, for example with zxing.appspot.com/generator, via the Wifi network option. A much better solution, however, is that you set up a guest network. The condition is that your router supports that option – perhaps after a firmware update (see also question 15).
In most cases, it is sufficient to activate this function (also called guest access or guest access) on your router and that of an SSID and provide a separate password. An additional advantage is that users who connect to this network cannot access the shared folders of your own wireless network. Some routers offer the possibility to set a maximum number of users that can use the guest network simultaneously. Often, users first have to open their browser to fill in the host password before they actually gain access.
Interesting is the Wireless Isolation function, also known as AP / Client / Station Isolation, Internet access only or Access intranet off. This ensures that users of that network cannot communicate with other devices; in fact, they can only access the internet. Please note that this feature may interfere with some wireless applications, such as Google Chrome cast.
If your router does not support all that, it is also possible to set up a guest network yourself. This requires the use of two (or three) routers in a specific way.
19 Extra security
Is it useful to enable additional protections such as mac filtering and hiding the SSID?
The only security that really matters is Wi-Fi encryption – preferably strong WPA2 encryption (based on AES) with a strong password. Enabling mac filtering and not allowing the said to be broadcast can be activated as additional security, but you know that it will make it more difficult for the good neighbor or the passerby.
A hacker has circumvented these protections with the help of tools such as Kismet or Air crack. Moreover, this makes it difficult to add a new ‘legitimate’ device, since you have to add the mac address to the whitelist yourself and also have to set the SSID and the security type yourself Much too cumbersome.
As far as the hiding of the SSID is concerned: that can make the security even less strong, especially if you activate the option Connect in Windows, even when the network is not broadcasting (go to Network Center, choose Set up a new connection or a new network / manually connecting to a wireless network / Next). In this case, regardless of where your device is located, your laptop will try to track your wireless network by using ‘probe requests’ to find out if the network (SSID) is available.
20 Old networks
How do I avoid that my smartphone, tablet or laptop automatically connects to old, familiar networks?
It is quite handy if your mobile device automatically connects to a network with which you previously had a connection so that you do not have to log in again every time. There is also a risk, of course: hackers can use tools that pick up your device’s search attempts to a known network, after which they can act as the trusted Wi-Fi network. However, it can also be annoying, especially in the case of public hotspots that first require authorization. You are connected, but you can not yet use the network. In these cases, it can be useful to simply ‘forget’ the network.
In Android, you do that via Settings / Network and internet / Wifi, after which you select the offending network and choose Network forgotten. On an iOS device, you do that in much the same way, via Settings / Wi-Fi, after which you tap the I- button next to the network name and forget this network.
On a laptop, with Windows 10 you can manage this from the command prompt (see also question 11) but also via Settings / Network and internet / Wi-Fi / Known networks, after which you click on the network name and select Do not remember.
How do I check if someone secretly uses my (wireless) network?
You can already start by checking the logs of your router. In most cases you as a section status is a list of the devices connected to your network, including IP and MAC address, often the hostname and sometimes the manufacturer, model and operating system. Based on the mac address, you can possibly activate a mac filter on your router (see also question 19). Keep in mind that many routers here only show the devices that were assigned an address via DHCP.
Furthermore, instead of sporadically checking for an unknown or unauthorized device on your network, you can use a tool such as Wireless Network Watcher or Soft Perfect WiFi Guard. The first tool continuously scans your network in the background and plays a sound as soon as a new device establishes a connection. The second tool is slightly more flexible: you determine the scanning frequency yourself and you can also set up devices as ‘trusted’ so that they will be ignored from now on. With both tools, make sure that you select the right network adapter.
The LED of my (wireless) router just keeps flashing. Should I be alarmed?
The intensity with which the LED of your router is flashing is of course not the most reliable way to check the extent to which your network (adapter) is effectively loaded.
With a Windows PC, you get more clarity via the built-in task management (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) on the Network tab: you can read the amount of data traffic per application or process. You can get even more details via the Source Check module (press Windows-key + R and run the resmon command), including on the Network tab and in particular in the Processes with network activity section. Place a check mark next to an item for more details. Or you can use a tool like Net Limiter. It not only allows you to monitor data traffic from or to the Internet, you can also prioritize or limit traffic from specific apps to quantity or time use.
To find out exactly what traffic is going to or from wireless devices such as a smartphone or tablet, you can temporarily set up your laptop as a wireless hotspot. After which you can connect your mobile device via that hotspot. On that laptop, you install a packet sniffer such as the free Wireshark, after which it can log all the traffic. This package, however, requires a good dose of knowledge of network protocols.
23 Public hotspot
Is it safe to connect to the internet via a public hotspot?
Even if we assume that it is a legitimate hotspot – and therefore not a ‘honey-spot’ set up by a hacker with an SSID like ‘Starbucks free’ – it is never really safe to use it. With the right tools, a fellow user of such a network can intercept your data. This also applies in principle to the wireless network of your hotel, for example, if the hacker (as a guest) has also received the corresponding password.
To make things safe (er), use https connections as much as possible and set up your device so that it does not automatically reconnect to a previously connected wireless network (see also question 20).
The best remedy for preventing someone from getting data from your wireless connection is a VPN connection (a virtual private network). This creates a ‘private tunnel’ to a VPN server, in which all data are securely encrypted. An additional advantage is that through such a connection you can circumvent any site blockades and web filters set up by the public network.
There are many VPN providers available, including Cyber Ghost (available for just about all platforms). Please note that free variants are often limited, also in the area of transfer speed. A possible alternative is that you set up a VPN server yourself, preferably on the basis of Open VPN or l2tp / IPsec but that is (technically) a different story.
24 Fast connect
My router supports WPS but is it safe to use that?
WPS stands for wifi protected setup and is a technique that has been created to make a wireless connection easier. Usually, it is sufficient to press a WPS button or enter a PIN code, after which your client can set up a connection to your Wi-Fi network.
Quite easy, but in the past, security problems have often been encountered. Through a simple brute force attack hackers could gain access to such a network. If possible, we recommend that you disable this WPS functionality on your router.
25 Sharing data
How can I share files over my wireless network?
First, make sure that your devices are connected to the same wireless router. Then you – we take a Windows 10 device as an example – go to the type of network that you have set up. Open the Network Center and go to See the active networks whether it is a private network. If not, go to Settings, choose Network and Internet, click on Wi-Fi and select Manage known networks, then click on the network name, choose Properties and This PC can be found set to On .
Go to the Network Center again where you can now read the option Can be made at Homegroup and confirm with Create a homegroup, after which you indicate what you want to share with others (such as Images, Music, Documents and Printers & devices ). A bit later your home group is ready and you can also let other Windows devices participate via the given password of this home group.
To be able to exchange files between an Android device and Windows. There are various possibilities (apart from cloud storage that you use as an intermediate station). For example, apps are available that allow you to exchange files via SMB / CIFS, but also via (s) FTP or WebDAV, such as ES File Explorer (with ads) or Solid Explorer. Or you use a tool like Resilio Sync. Where it seems like you connect to a cloud storage service but then one on your own PC. Apps are also available for iOS, including Air Transfer and FileBrowserLite. Instructions for this can be found here (there you will also find a link for sharing with Android).