There’s hardly a good time for your internet to go out, but it always seems to happen at the worst possible time. Maybe you’re streaming the finale of your favorite TV show, closing in on a rare victory online or taking an important work call from home and, sure enough, there goes the internet. Even the best Wi-Fi connections can go out from time to time and may require a bit of troubleshooting to get back online.
Resolving the occasional service disruption is usually fairly quick and simple. Here are the most common reasons why your internet might go out and how to fix the problem, if possible. Spoiler alert: It’s not always the fault of your internet service provider.
(For more Wi-Fi tips, check out why your router may be in the wrong place and how to find free Wi-Fi anywhere in the world.)
Common causes of home internet outages
Here are some of the top causes your internet may have dropped – we’ll dive into solutions for each below.
1. Modem/router malfunctions
2. Inadequate speeds or equipment
3. Hacking or network issues
4. Bad weather
5. ISP service outages and network congestion
Narrowing down the exact issue can take a bit of investigating and troubleshooting. Start by verifying the connection issue isn’t specific to a single website, server or device.
If you’ve lost your Netflix connection halfway through a show, check to see if other streaming services are still accessible and working. If so, the problem likely lies with Netflix and not your internet connection. If you’re having an issue connecting to other streaming services, it could be that the smart TV or streaming device is to blame. Try streaming on another device, if possible, to verify that an internet outage is the culprit.
Internet still out? Here’s what else to try
Aside from the tips listed above, there are a couple of ways you may be able to get back online.
The first is by using your mobile connection. Your phone will likely automatically switch to cellular service if your Wi-Fi goes out, so you’ll be able to use your phone just like you would if you were away from home. Keep in mind, however, that doing so will use up your mobile data.
Additionally, some phones, carriers and plans allow you to create a Wi-Fi hotspot. It probably won’t power your home the same as your router, but it will enable you to connect a few devices until your home network comes back.
Second, and perhaps only applicable for longer outages or urgent internet needs such as submitting a school assignment on time, would be to find a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Your local public library, coffee shop or restaurant, among many other public places, may offer free Wi-Fi.
Be mindful that using a public Wi-Fi connection is not as secure as your home network, so consider using a VPN or avoid any activity that involves sensitive data (passwords, banking info, doing your taxes, etc.) while on a public network.
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