How to troubleshoot your WiFi network (Part 1)

troubleshoot your WiFi
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troubleshoot your WiFi network

Now WiFi is everywhere and is embedded in every device. This technology somehow plays the role of oxygen for Internet access, media streaming, gaming and any kind of networking work. So it should always work well and otherwise you will get in big trouble. In this article, which is divided into two parts, we will discuss a number of common causes and factors that cause Wi-Fi problems and how to fix them.

WiFi Principles

Before we start examining the problematic factors for accessing a Wi-Fi network, it is not bad to have a brief look at the terms of this technology:

802.11: The name chosen by the IEEE for a group of engineers working on wireless local area networks (WLANs). WLANs first started in 1999 with 802.11b (802.11a was introduced at the same time but was not well received), and today the group has grown to 802.11ac and 802.11ad. We are expected to see the introduction of 802.11ax at CES. These specifications show how data is encoded in radio transfers and exchanged between devices.

Wi-Fi : A brand name for identifying network adapters that have passed a certification test to work with each other using different 802.11 specifications.

Frequency bands: Wi-Fi networks use two frequency bands without a license, 2.4 and 5 GHz. Many Wi-Fi routers, and most modern mobile and desktop devices, can connect to the network on both bands , called adapters or dual-band stations. 802.11b and g exclusively use the 2.4 GHz band, and 802.11a and ac use only the 5 GHz band. 802.11n also works on both bands.

Channel : The frequency bands are divided into a number of channels. In the United States, there are 11 overlapping channels for the 2.4 GHz band, numbered from 1 to 11, while the 5 GHz band is in the much wider range from 36 to 165.

You do not see the network you know

You know there must be an accessible network in your area, but its name is not in the list of available networks for you to connect to. Check these possibilities:

  • You must first see if Wi-Fi is turned off without your knowledge. Some laptops and other devices have a hardware button to turn Wi-Fi on and off that you may have accidentally pressed.

  • Disconnect and reconnect your Wi-Fi adapter. On many devices you can temporarily disable Wi-Fi waves using software settings. Airplane Mode is the simplest way operating systems have been designed for this purpose. However, using it will also disable the telecommunication network and Bluetooth connections on your device.
  • Make sure you are within range of the waves. Wi-Fi waves are not designed to operate in a well-defined range and are cut off immediately after leaving that range. Sometimes you experience an ideal connection in one place and at other times the waves get in trouble. This is because radio waves weaken as they pass through surfaces and obstacles or other disturbing waves. Scroll around and see if your desired network appears.
  • Check the band. Although many devices today can connect to both frequencies, they are still modern hardware that can only connect via the 2.4 GHz band. If you are in a location where the network is only accessible via the 5 GHz band, all of your devices that support dual-band hardware can easily connect to this network, but single hardware The 2.4 GHz band does not have this capability. Due to the difference in nature between the bands, it is possible not to receive 2.4 GHz waves when you are in a room from home, work or public place, but to receive 5 GHz waves well in the same place.
  • You may be dealing with a closed network. Although using this method will never really increase the security level of your network, there are some networks that are set up so as not to publish their name. In these cases, in order to connect to the network, in addition to the password, you must also enter its name.
  • The network may be unavailable. Try with several devices or ask others if they can use the network. It may be necessary to reboot or replace the router.

A connection is established but it is not possible to use the Internet

Wi-Fi is a radio technology in the sense that you may be able to make a successful connection with a strong signal, but still not be able to access the network.

Start by checking your network address and see if it is within the auto-allocation range. If for any reason your local network fails to determine the addresses of the connected devices, your computer or mobile device will create an automatic address that cannot redirect data. In some cases, small networks also lack addresses.

There are some operating systems that report the problem in some way, such as the Wi-Fi adapter signal symbol with an exclamation mark next to it. In other cases, you should check the network status and settings.

  • On Android: Settings> About Phone> Status
  • IOS: Settings> Wi-Fi and click the i button
  • In Windows: Settings> Network & Internet and then select the WiFi adapter
  • In macOS: Open the Network system preference section, select the Wi-Fi adapter, click Advanced and click the TCP / IP tab

If the IP address on your device for the IPv4 network (a set of four sets of digits separated by a dot) starts with 169.254, this address is set by the device itself and indicates that Your operating system could not get the correct value from the local network DHCP server.

But before you assume that the network has a problem, check its settings if you are using a firewall. Some firewalls prevent you from connecting to new networks and exchanging data with them. Most of the time you will receive a message warning you about a new network and asking you to confirm it. But depending on your configuration, it is possible that this network is secretly blocked.

The IP address is valid but nothing is loading

If you use the Internet in public places such as coffee shops and airports, you may inadvertently encounter a portal or a login page. Most new operating systems are familiar with this and behave appropriately. Internet access will not be possible until you have answered the correct questions or clicked the correct buttons.

With a portal page, Hotspot rejects the requested domain name (DNS), so when you enter a site address you will be returned to this portal. Apple’s macOS and iOS detect this behavior and display the portal page with a floating dialog box. Once the access is successful, access will be granted to your desired domain name.

Sometimes portals have problems, or firewalls and other software filters interrupt work, or your system detects these blockages as harmful and blocks them. All this prevents the portal page from appearing.

Open your browser and try to access any site  and see what happens. If you see the page load icon (look in your browser’s Location field and see if the domain or IP address changes), something on your system is probably blocking the completion of this process.

If nothing loads in your browser, consult your ISP. You may need to pay, receive a password, or use special settings to access it.

See Also How to choose the right Ethernet cable for your business?

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