Recently, I’ve had a few of my clients book appointments complaining of slow connections to the Internet or a potential “bad router”.  No matter what the brand, Linksys, Netgear, Belkin, or DLink, I get this question.  How do I tell if I have a bad wireless router?  How do I tell if my router has a problem?  How can I tell if the router is defective and needs to be returned?

Let’s start with the basic question, “Can you still access the Internet?”  If the answer is “yes”, you most likely don’t have a bad router – but we will get to that in a minute.

If the answer is “no”:

1.  Check to make sure that all the power chords and connections between your cable / dsl modem and the router are plugged in properly.  Don’t just glance at the cables!  Follow the cables to the wall and to each outlet…understand where the cable goes and why.  There should be one Ethernet cable going between your cable / dsl modem and the “Internet” port on your router.  (For those that don’t know, an Ethernet cable looks like a thicker version of a telephone cable).  There should also be two power plugs, one for your router and one for your modem.  Finally, there should either be a telephone line coming into the modem (if you use DSL) or a thick, cable-TV cable (if you use cable high-speed Internet).

2.  Check to make sure you have connectivity from your Internet provider.  Look at the cable or DSL modem and check to see that the “Power”, “Internet”, “Signal” and other appropriate lights are on.   Do the lights look different than normal?  Are they blinking continuously?  Call your Internet provider and see if they have an outage in your area.  Have the technician run a test on your modem.

OK, you’ve eliminated power and cable connections from being a concern, and you know you can’t access the Internet.  You might have a bad router.  One final check you can do if you use cable high-speed Internet is take the router out of the picture.  Connect your computer straight to your cable modem and reboot the computer.  If you can get on the Internet now, it may be a bad router causing your woes.  Time to call your friendly, neighborhood computer guys at P3C Technologies!

You’re still reading the article, so – you must be able to get to the Internet with your router plugged in, but you are seeing degraded performance.  Chances are, this is not caused by a bad router.  A few things to try here in order.  If one does not resolve, move on to #2 and so on:

1. Reset the power to your modem and router.  Unplug the power to both boxes, wait 30 seconds, and then plug in power to the modem.  Once all lights are lit, plug in power to the router.

2. Turn off all computers in the house except for one computer.  Make sure it is the most trustworthy used by an adult in the house that does not regularly surf the Internet visiting questionable web sites.  Then, repeat step 1 above.  See if you still have the slowness issue.   If not, you might want to talk with your son Johnny to see what he’s been downloading and talk to P3C Technologies about content filtering and quality of service settings for your home Internet connection.

More advanced users can try various other things to try to improve performance, including upgrading the firmware on the router, changing the wireless channel used for broadcasting your network, and potentially performing a needed upgrade on your computer itself.  I will talk a little bit about Internet slowness on a wireless network in a future post.

For now, have more questions?  Contact us or leave a comment to discuss if you have other troubleshooting advice!