Without question, your router is one of the most useful and convenient tech devices you own. But many of you probably view it as one of the biggest sources of frustration, anxiety, and downright anger. The fact is, setting up a home router—and keeping it running—is still more complicated and demanding of tech knowledge than the average user would like it to be.
Part of the problem is that routers do so much more than average user can understand. A router performs two primary functions. First, it routes data packets between networks. Second, it serves as a wireless access point, sharing the inbound Internet connection with all devices on a home network. A router is the central figure in a home network, connecting the vast Internet with our comparatively, tiny (yet increasingly sophisticated) private networks. That’s a complex set of responsibilities for a small, inexpensive device to perform. Most routers manage to do all these job reasonably well for the vast majority of the time. But, because all of these functions are critical to a router’s network, when your router begins to act up, you’re likely to forget the fact that it functioned flawless for weeks, or even months, at a time.
And your router will act up, from time to time. Unfortunately, these bridges between the wilds of the Web and a home user’s local area network, or LAN, are the perfect breeding grounds for a host of problems. Not being able to browse the Internet, intermittent connections drops, and dead spots in wireless coverage, are just a small sample from the endless litany of migraine-inducing Wi-Fi weirdness on those rare occasions when routers fail at their tasks.
You have the power to remediate many of these issues, even if you cringe at the thought of troubleshooting your wireless network. I’ve covered many specific problems related to wireless networking: How to Boost Your Wireless Signal, How to Cast Out Intruders on a Wireless Network, and even How to Troubleshoot iPad Wi-Fi Connectivity Issues. However, some problems that crop up are common to all wireless routers, and we at PCMag want you to be able to solve them. Here are the eight most common wireless questions I get from readers and corresponding down-and-dirty troubleshooting tricks you can try before you call technical support.