Why Does My Wireless Keep Turning Off & On?

by Elizabeth Smith
An outdated wireless router can cause trouble with your signal.

An outdated wireless router can cause trouble with your signal.

An intermittent wireless signal is a source of frustration, particularly when you are trying to download files or stream content over the Web. Because of the nature of a wireless Internet network, a signal that comes and goes often has an easy remedy. Before you give up hope in your wireless Internet, take simple steps to combat common sources of interference.

Wireless Interference

Common household devices like cordless phones, garage door openers and sprinkler controls give off wireless signals that can interfere with a wireless network, causing it to drop the signal. Because wireless devices often broadcast on the same wavelength, having too many in one place can cause issues with one or all of the devices. A simple diagnostic and potential solution is to change the broadcasting frequency on your wireless router. You do not need to adjust settings on your computer. If wireless interference is causing the signal to go on and off, you should see an immediate improvement.

Router Location

The location of a router has an impact on signal strength and stability. If there are thick walls between your computer and the router, the signal can get scrambled en route, causing intermittent service. The same is true for a router placed too near a wall. Metal objects like file cabinets and radiators can also interfere with a wireless signal. The best location for a router is in a central location, as close as possible to your computer. The router should also not be in a place where it receives direct sunlight, as overheating can cause a router to turn off in self defense.

Hardware Problems

The hardware associated with a wireless network, both on the computer and the router, can cause signal problems. If your router's drivers and firmware updates are not current, the operating system may interfere with the performance of the device. Download the latest versions from the manufacturer's website. Other potential problems include damaged cable connections or an out-of-date wireless card.

Quick Solutions

Before you spend hours on hold with your Internet service provider, you can perform some quick solutions that can improve your connection immediately. Power-cycling the router is the first step. Turn it off, remove all of the cables and allow it to sit for ten minutes before turning it back on and replacing the cables. You can also reset your computer's wireless connection by turning it off and back on.

About the Author

Elizabeth Smith has been a scientific and engineering writer since 2004. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, newspapers and corporate publications. A frequent traveler, she also has penned articles as a travel writer. Smith has a Bachelor of Arts in communications and writing from Michigan State University.

Photo Credits

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