5 Reasons Why Your Wi-Fi Is Down and How to Fix It

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

There’s really never a good time for your Wi-Fi to go out: Whatever you’re using the internet for at the time (streaming TV, gaming online, working from home or some combination of it all) comes to an abrupt and frustrating halt. An internet outage could also knock your Wi-Fi security cameras, smart light switches and other connected devices offline even when you’re away — not ideal.

While there’s not much you can do about an internet outage when you’re away from home, troubleshooting and resolving the occasional service disruption can be fairly quick and simple. Here are the most common reasons why your internet might go out and how to fix the problem, if possible. Spoiler alert: It’s not always the fault of your internet service provider. (For more Wi-Fi tips, check out why your router may be in the wrong place, and how to find free Wi-Fi anywhere in the world.) 

Most common causes of home internet outages

Here are some of the top causes your internet may have dropped — we’ll dive into solutions for each below.

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1. Modem/router malfunctions

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2. Inadequate speeds or equipment

3. Hacking or network issues

4. Bad weather

5. ISP service outages and network congestion

Narrowing down the exact issue can take a bit of investigating and troubleshooting. Start by verifying the connection issue isn’t specific to a single website, server or device. 

If you’ve lost your Netflix connection halfway through a show, check to see if other streaming services are still accessible and working. If so, the problem likely lies with Netflix and not your internet connection. If you’re having an issue connecting to other streaming services, it could be that the smart TV or streaming device is to blame. Try streaming on another device, if possible, to verify that an internet outage is the culprit.

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When your home internet connection goes out, it’s most likely due to a hiccup with your modem and/or router. The solution is often simple: Restart your equipment by unplugging it, waiting 10 seconds or so, plugging it back in and allowing it to reboot. More often than not, this will resolve your outage.

When restarting your router, I’d recommend cutting power by unplugging it instead of pressing or holding any buttons on the device itself. Doing so can prompt the device to do a hard reset, returning it to factory settings and erasing your Wi-Fi network settings. Granted, the reset will likely re-establish your internet connection, but you’ll also have the extra task of setting up your Wi-Fi again.

Also, keep in mind that your device may have a battery backup. If the lights on your modem or router don’t go out when

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