I Broke The Internet … Now What?
“I broke the Internet.” This is just one of many statements users make when they experience problems with their home Internet networks and wireless Internet connections. Let me start by saying “Relax…you did not break the Internet.” You are likely experiencing issues with one of the most useful devices you own: your router. And while it is one of the most useful device you own it can also be one of the most troublesome devices that you own. Understanding how your router works, setting it up and keeping running is the chore. This can be a daunting task, but don’t give it a second thought. We can help!
Education is the one thing that we don’t have time for, but when we take the time we soon find that it costs us less time to learn than to go through trial and error trying to fix something we have no understanding about. The very first step is to learn and understand what your router is and how it works. Your router performs two primary functions. First, your router routes. Duh. What does it route? Well, your router routes data packets between networks. Okay…that sounds simple enough. Second, it serves as a wireless access point which shares the inbound Internet connection with all of the devices on your home network (including pc’s, laptops, iPhones, tablets, etc…). A router is the key piece of a home network, connecting the vast Internet with your own little slice of the Internet which we call private networks. Sounds like a big chore for such a small, inexpensive device to perform, and yet most of the time it works flawlessly. And so when your router gives up or “misfires” just remember that poor little thing has served you well for many days, weeks, months, and years without complaint. Resist the urge to throw it across the room. Trust us on that one.
The fact is that your router will likely act up, from time to time. Unfortunately, the connections between the Big Old Internet and a tiny home user’s local area network, or LAN for short, prove to be the perfect breeding ground for a whole host of connectivity problems. Again, you did not break the Internet. Your problems are notable and may include: not being able to browse the Internet through your browser, intermittent connections drops (aghhhhhhhh, thought we would throw in a scream for you), and dead spots in wireless coverage. These are just a small array of the endless litany of reasons many users have little keyboard shaped squares on their foreheads. It is as if little computer gremlins show up just about the same time routers fail at their tasks. Coincidence? We think not.
And while the thought of troubleshooting your wireless network may send shivers up and down your spine, relax, we still have you covered. Some of the issues that you might experience are common to most all wireless routers. Here are the twelve most common wireless questions we get from our Friendly Customers and here are 12 “Simple” solutions to help you until you decide it would just be faster to let us do it.
1. What To Do When Your New Router Won’t Connect to the Internet
I Broke the Internet: You go down to Fry’s or your local computer store and buy a new router. You disconnect the old router which looks like an old Atari gaming console, connect the new state-of-art, router that the sales guy promises will reach that back room where you go when everything in your house is chaos (you know the room I am talking about- it is the one that is most quiet and yet does not seem to receive a signal), and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for setting up the router. After you have clawed your way through the web of wires behind your machine you think you have identified and made the right connections. And even though you can now see the new wireless network from your machine and can even connect your computer or device, for some reason you just cannot browse the Internet.
You Didn’t Break the Internet: Try unplugging the network cable (or cables) and power from your broadband modem you received from your ISP (Internet Service Provider) including any coaxial or DSL connections, as well as all cables from the new router. Patience here. Yes this step will take all of thirty seconds. Leave everything unplugged and disconnected for at least 30 seconds. Next, re-connect everything you just disconnected back to the broadband modem, making sure all of your cables are securely connected and that the WAN/Internet indicator light is on. Then, attach all cables back to your router (including the Ethernet cable from the broadband modem to the router’s WAN port) and then power up the router. Make sure the Internet connection indicator light is on. This may remove some of the old gremlins from your old connection. Now try browsing the Internet. This should do the trick. If not try following the installation instructions again or give us a call.
2. My Router Setup Software Is Not Detecting the Router
I Broke The Internet: But the instructions to my new router says that the installation CD that came with the router should automatically get my computer to detect my new router, wirelessly. Epic Fail.
You Did Not Break The Internet: This is actually a fairly common problem with newer routers available today on the market that have “automated setup CD’s.” Sometimes the setup process just doesn’t work for whatever reason. Here’s how you can bypass the setup and go right into the router’s management interface to setup your personal wireless network. First, connect an Ethernet cable from your computer to one of the LAN ports of the router (you can also keep the router connected to the broadband modem). Find your computer’s network settings (usually located in Control Panel|Network and Internet|Network Sharing Center|Change Adapter Settings).
Then you will need to right-click and select Properties of Local Area Connection. Highlight Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP v4). In the TCP/IP v4 windows that opens, click the radio button, and select “Use the following IP address.” Now under “IP address” you type an address that matches the default IP address of your router, a string of numbers broken up by periods. You’ll find this in the router’s documentation. For example, if the default IP of the router is “192.168.1.1″ you should type in “192.168.1.2″—making the last number different prevent an IP address conflict with the router but places your computer and the router on the same network. Under “Subnet mask,” type in “255.255.255.0″—this is the subnet mask for most home networks, and for “Gateway” type in the default IP of the router—in this example it would be the “192.168.1.1″ address.
Doing this will put your computer on the same network as your router. Now you can now open a browser and enter the router’s IP address. Just type the router number into your address bar, like this: http://192.168.1.1. You will then be prompted to enter your username and password. This information is also available with your router’s documentation. Once you are in the management interface, you can manually setup your wireless connection: the SSID, pass phrase, and security. Depending on the router it can be a combination of possible default entries. Admin/Admin is fairly common.
3. My Wireless Network’s Name/SSID Has Disappeared
I Broke The Internet: Out of the blue, all of a sudden, my SSID or Wi-Fi network name is no longer listed from the choices when I click to see available wireless networks. They don’t appear on my iPhone either! There are various reasons this might happen, and it’s not an uncommon occurrence.
You Did Not Break The Internet: What you want to do is force your computer or device to connect to the router even if it’s not broadcasting a signal. To do this on a Windows machine, go into Control Panel|Network and Internet|Network and Sharing|Manage Wireless Networks. If you see your wireless network listed, right-click on its icon and click Properties. Check the option “Connect even if the network is not broadcasting its name (SSID).” If you still don’t see your wireless network listed, click “Add” then select “Manually connect to a wireless network” and put your wireless information in.
For Mac users (who don’t have nearly as many problems as PC users…just saying): You can also “force-join” an SSID that has stopped broadcasting through a Mac’s Airport Utility. Select to join “Other” and type in the name of the network and your password. Of course, you will still want to find out why your SSID has stopped broadcasting a signal. You can check to make sure broadcasting was not inadvertently disabled in the router’s software, to do this you will need to simply reboot the router, and then check for any software updates.
4. My Internet Connection Keeps Dropping (Seriously this time I broke the Internet)
I Broke the Internet: There you are minding your own business, doing your thing, playing a game of Candy Crush or browsing the Abercrombie and Fitch website when all of the sudden the Internet connection drops. You may even see the light flicker down to nothing like a shooting star on your broadband cable modem and then suddenly all LEDs light up again.
You Did Not Break The Internet: This my friend is a common issue for Internet users (relax you did not break the Internet), particularly for those with cable Internet service or FIOS connections. If you are using a cable line to get Internet service you might try replacing your cable splitters. If you have several splitters on an inbound cable connection, say one coming into your home and another to break out the cable signal in your home entertainment system, check to see if they are -7dB splitters (printed on the outside of the splitter). Try replacing a -7dB splitter that your broadband modem is connected to with a -3.5 dB splitter, which may decrease some of that signal loss. It could be as simple as having a three splitter and not using the third connection, try replacing it with a two-way splitter. This should end your connectivity woe’s.
5. When I Move to the Man Cave or the Lady Loft, the WiFi Signal Drops
I Broke the Internet: Sometimes you want to get off into that little corner of the world and enjoy a cup of coffee while browsing the Internet. In one room, your wireless connection is fine, but the minute you go off to your secret place the signal becomes weak or nonexistent for that matter.
You Did Not Break The Internet: There are several things that could cause your wireless signal to drop or lose consistency. The biggest culprit is signal interference. Sometimes, cordless phones and any other device you have that is using the same 2.4GHz band could be the cause. Even things you would never guess could be problems could cause interference, things like your bathroom mirror! Once you’ve checked for any physical interference, ask yourself a few questions: Do all your devices and computers lose signal at the same location, or just one device in particular? If all of your devices lose connectivity, chances are the problem lies with your router. You might want to try getting an external antenna for your router and also take a look on your manufacturers website to check for router firmware updates. If one specific machine is dropping the signal, update that machine’s wireless client adapter or upgrade the adapter altogether. This should solve your problem.
6. My Port Forwarding Does Not Seem To Be Working
I Broke The Internet: Okay so I have this new app I want to check out but every time I try to run it, the thing tells me that I have to have a specific port open on my machine. I followed the instructions but the darn thing keeps telling me “Port Closed!” AGHHHHHHH!
You Did Not Break The Internet: Don’t pull your hair out…yet. Most of the time this isn’t a problem with a your configuration. Most likely it is a problem on the Internet service provider’s side. Yes, your ISP, despite what they advertise, do not have 100% uptime. ISPs will often block ports to strengthen your network against hackers and intruders. This is a good thing, but sometimes it can be a hassle. Before you kill yourself trying to go through your configuration steps again, check to make sure the port you are setting up for forwarding is not blocked by your ISP. You might try to Google an Open Port Check tool to see if your port is being blocked.
7. DOH…I Forgot the Password to My Router
I Broke The Internet: Okay..so I put it on a sticky note but now I can’t find it! It happens. It’s like the Lord of the Rings for passwords. You know, “One ring to rule them all.”
You Did Not Break The Internet: All you need to do is simply reset the router back to its factory default settings. Now keep in mind that you will lose all your configuration settings made on the router (casualty of war). But here is how you do it. On the back of almost all routers is a recessed button labeled “Reset.” Using a paper clip or a pencil, hold this button in until the LEDs on the router blink (the amount of time this takes will vary from router to router). This will reset the router back to factory settings and will enable you to use the default username and password again (this is usually ADMIN or ADMINISTRATOR). Problem solved. Now reconfigure your router and your back in business!
8. The Router Shuts Itself Off
I Broke The Internet: I think my router is possessed. One minute it on and the next minute the thing shuts itself down. I am not paying it to do this I swear.
You Did Not Break The Internet: If you live in the Houston area you understand what it means to get overheated (especially if you drive in Houston traffic- of course that is another kind of overheating that will not be covered in this article- we recommend counseling). The problem you are facing is usually the cause of overheating. Your router may be overworked. Chances are good that you never turn the thing off and just like you and me we get older and older and the older we get the more easily we get tired. This is true for your router. It may be getting old and not cooling as efficiently as it used to. The first thing you need to do is check to see that the cooling vents on the router are not obstructed. Some times they get dusty. In which case I would recommend hiring a maid like the Maids of Southwest Houston (shameless plug). Speaking of plugs, try unplugging (pardon the pun) the router for a little while. Your old friend could use a rest. Next, use a can of compressed air to clear out as much dust as you can from the vents. Now try turning it off when you are not using it. This should increase the life of your router.
9. For Some Strange Reason I Cannot Connect My New Wireless Gadget To My Router.
I Broke The Internet: My router has been working fine, I can connect on my laptop but when you get my new iPad, tablet or handheld game for the holidays, I am having issues connecting, I think I really broke the Internet this time!
You Did Not Break The Internet: Whenever you have a new device that won’t connect to your router and you know that you know the router is working the first thing you want to check is make sure there isn’t a problem with the device. Yes even Apple produces Lemons (Yes I said it). Check to make sure you can connect the device to another network, maybe a wireless hotspot (this is a good excuse for you to go down to the local coffee shop and access their FREE WI-FI to test your new device. Remember to turn off sharing to avoid others accessing your system. If the problem remains, check to make sure your device is connecting to the right wireless signal on your router, if you have a dual-band router. The thing about dual-band routers is they transmit signals at two bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz (hence the name). Some routers will use the same SSID for each band and then some devices can connect automatically to the correct band. Almost all tablets, e-readers, gaming systems, and devices can connect to the 2.4 GHz band. Some newer wireless devices can even connect to a 5 GHz band. If you are still having a problem, give us a call, we would be glad to lend a “Friendly” hand: 281-554-5500.
10. My Friend Gave Me Her Old Router, But It So Does Not Work On My Network.
I Broke The Internet: Never look a gift horse in the mouth so they say. If you happen to be the proud owner of a slightly used router the chances are good that you won’t simple be able connect it to your broadband connection and just start using it. You are likely going to need to reset it back to the factory default settings first. See #7. Then go give your friend a big hug for hooking you up with a spectacular piece of technology that was, most importantly, FREE!
11. I Can’t Seem To Stream Multimedia Files From My Laptop To My iPhone.
I Broke The Internet: Okay, so you have the same issue that millions of your peers have with iTunes. But let’s assume that iTunes is not the problem, or maybe you are using another device. In either case, streaming files such as videos and music from one device on a network to another is one of the most common networking tasks that folks like us want to do. In our technological world it should be easy to stream files from computers, set-top computers and multimedia players to clients such as smart phones and tablets.
You Did Not Break The Internet: With streaming data there are two simple settings you want to make sure are enabled on the router: UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) and DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance). UPnP will allow all networked devices to discover one another. Some of the newer routers and devices also use DLNA for easy streaming between devices. Both can be enabled through your router’s interface. Once enabled you should have no problems getting video on your mobile device.
12. Okay If I Didn’t Break The Internet Then Tell Me Why My Network Is Still SOOOOO Slow!
I Broke the Internet: Okay, so you are still having issues.There are a couple of other troubleshooting tips you may want to try before bringing your machine in to Friendly Computers. Take a look and note what is slow in your network. Is it internally slow? In other words are you having issues transferring files among computers? Or is it browsing the Internet that’s slow? Is it because you are experience extremely long times while streaming from one device to another?
You Did Not Break The Internet: Here is what you need to do. Look into updating firmware on all of your devices, or if possible try adding a more powerful USB wireless adapter to a slow laptop or notebook, this may be a solution for you. If, on the other hand, the Internet access is slow, check to make sure you are getting near the bandwidth promised by your ISP. Some ISP’s promise 6megs download, but that is wishful thinking today. Most even say that you have unlimited and then will cap your speeds once you reach a certain usage. This will slow your bandwidth down. This can be circumvented by the use of a VPN (which is another discussion for a later post). But to determine what your speed is you can use multiple speed test tools such as speedtest.net, and others to get different results to compare. Some of these sites will allow you to keep track of bandwidth at different times of the day and night as well as weekdays and weekends. This is helpful when you contact your ISP for further troubleshooting if you are not seeing the bandwidth you are supposed to receive from your ISP you will have the proof you need and a firm ground to launch a complaint. Usually they have ways of going in and giving your connection speed a bump by adjusting the throttle so to speak.
Finally, if you are having any issues with your computer or connectivity call the friendly folks over at Friendly Computer. They are experienced and offer the level of support that you need to make sure that your machine and networks are running efficiently. Oh and yes…they do make house calls!