Why Your Windows Wi-Fi Keeps Disconnecting (Plus Fixes)


Wi-Fi Error

Everyone using Wi-Fi has experienced the yin/yang of it. When it works, it is the best thing ever invented, allowing you to use devices anywhere you want in the home. When it doesn’t work, it is the most irritating thing and you can’t do the things you have got used to doing, like streaming or browsing on the move. But what causes Wi-Fi signals to fluctuate on Windows devices (or any other device) and sometimes drop out in the home?

Wi-Fi on Windows devices can disconnect for a number of reasons, but here are some of the most common, plus corrections:

  • Bring your devices closer to the router.
  • Remove obstacles (walls/floors etc.) between the router and the device.
  • Reduce interference from other frequencies or wireless devices.
  • Disable and reactivate your network adapter.
  • Update your devices, router and network drivers.
  • Wi-Fi naturally weakens over distance (use ethernet instead).
  • Try using Google DNS instead (8.8.8.8; 8.8.4.4)

We can try some things to fix some of these issues, but much of the unreliability of Wi-Fi is just built into the way it operates.

Therefore sometimes it may be settings on your Windows device itself, but other times it may just be the fickleness of Wi-Fi itself. We’ll try to cover both angles so you have multiples options to try and identify and solve the issue.

Where short term quick fixes are not so effective, it is best to invest in some home networking products (extenders, powerlines, mesh systems) to get better connectivity in the home.

In this post we’ll cover the subject of weak and unreliable Wi-Fi from all angles – explaining why it happens and some quick fixes for devices that use Windows 7/8/10/11 etc. We’ll also go into some longer term fixes in the form of home networking products to deliver better internet if your router can’t on it’s own.

Quick Fixes For Unstable or Disconnecting Wi-Fi

Let’s start off with what most readers are probably looking for – quick things they can do to fix an unstable Wi-Fi connection.

Here are some check box things to try (we’ll go into more in depth solutions if these options don’t work):

  • Quick reset your router and devices.
  • Move your router and devices closer together.
  • Move your router to a more central location in the house if possible and practical.
  • Make sure your router is not too close to other RF/EMF emitting devices, like microwaves.
  • Kick some people off the Wi-Fi (usually not practical!)
  • Make sure your router is updated to the latest firmware and drivers. Google your router brand and model and check for the latest drivers and how to install them.
  • If there are any obvious and clear obstructions between your router and device that can be moved, then move them. (eg. movable furniture, stands, racks, household or DIY “stuff” lying around etc.)
  • Switch onto a wired connection if possible. We’ll run into more clever ways of doing this later on in this post.
  • If you have had your current router a long time, also contact your ISP and see if there is a more up to date router they can send you with better performance.

Wi-Fi Will Always Degrade Over Distance

We don’t want to bore readers too much with technical explanation, but we should explain this point because it is important to properly understand Wi-Fi. We’ll explain very quickly and then move onto solutions.

Wi-Fi signals are a form of Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) waves, more specifically the Radio Frequency (RF) subset of this spectrum. All EMF waves are subject to the Inverse Square Law of physics which states that the intensity of waves will decrease by a square of the distance from the source.

This is an unavoidable law of physics, and whilst there are methods to concentrate and direct RF signals in a specific way to minimize dispersion and increase range, solving the problem of weakening and dispersing Wi-Fi to improve home connectivity remains a challenge for ISPs and router manufacturers.

Therefore Wi-Fi will always have weaknesses, especially over distance, that cannot really be totally avoided, no matter how much router technology advances. Wi-Fi will often be slower than ethernet the further you are from the router.

There are still solutions available though, if your Wi-Fi keeps disconnecting. Let’s turn to some now.

Disable and Re-enable Your Network Adapter

This is another quick step to take on Windows operating systems that can refresh your Wi-Fi connection if it keeps disconnecting:

  •  Windows 7 – Go to Control Panel —- Network and Internet —– Network and Sharing Center
  • Click Change Adapter Settings on the left
  • For Windows 10 – Click the Windows sign (bottom left corner, then the Settings cog. Click Network & Internet, and under Advanced Network Settings, click Change Adapter Settings
  • A list of wired and wireless internet connections configured on your computer should appear. Right click on the one you are currently using (wired or Wi-Fi) and then click Disable.
  • Wait a few seconds for it to fully disable, then right click and Enable again.
  • See it this restores a stronger connection.

Disabling and re-enabling your network adapter can sometimes refresh the connection

Updating Your Network Drivers

This is another common cause of Wi-Fi disconnection when using Windows 7/8/10/11 operating systems. Always make sure that the network adapters on your device are up-to-date.

Here is a guide for Windows:

  •  Windows 7 – Go to Control Panel —-Device Management or open the Run box and type in devmgmt.msc and hit OK.
  • For Windows 10 – Simply search for and select Device Manager in the bottom left corner search bar.
  • A whole list of categories should appear. Select/double click Network Adapters
  • Select your network/WLAN adapter for your device (usually at the top).
  • Right click and select Update Driver.
  • If there is an update, install it and see if this restores a better connection.

Try Changing Your DNS Servers

This is a lesser known solution. It can sometimes appear that your Wi-Fi is weak, when in fact it is your DNS servers that are not working well, and this is delivering a poor connection and low speeds.

Manually changing your DNS servers can sometimes fix this problem. The specific settings and menus differ slightly with each operating system and device; see hereOpens in a new tab. for a full list of how to change DNS settings for different systems.

Here are the steps for Windows:

  • Windows 7 – Go to Control Panel —- Network and Internet —– Network and Sharing Center
  •  Click Change Adapter Settings on the left
  • For Windows 10 – Click the Windows sign (bottom left corner, then the Settings cog. Click Network & Internet, and under Advanced Network Settings, click Change Adapter Settings
  •  A list of wired and wireless internet connections configured on your computer should appear. Right click on the one you are currently using (wired or Wi-Fi) and then click Properties
  • Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP) and then click Properties again
  • The screen posted below should appear. Select Use the following DNS Servers and type in the Google DNS servers (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4).
  •  Click OK and exit to save settings. You internet connection is now running through Google’s DNS servers instead of the default ones provided by your ISP.
DNS Settings Screen Windows

This is the settings screen you should get to on Windows systems to change DNS servers manually – see this videoOpens in a new tab. if you prefer a visual demonstration of how to do it.

This can sometimes deliver a much better connection and speeds, though it is definitely not guaranteed to work in all cases.

Try Switching Wi-Fi Bands

Another easy thing you can try on Windows devices (or any other device) if you have a dual band router is to switch to the other Wi-Fi band to see if you get a better signal. Dual band routers are the ones that emit both a 2.4 GHz and a 5 GHz network, and connecting to the other one can sometimes give better performance.

More specifically, if you’re on the 5 GHz band and at some distance from the router, you can often get a better signal  by switching to the 2.4 GHz band, which often gives better reception over longer distances.

Check the sticker on the back of your router for two networks/SSIDs:

 

Note down the details and find the other network on your Windows device’s Wi-Fi network list (click the Wi-Fi symbol in the bottom right corner):

Connect to the other band than the one you’re currently on (especially if you’re currently on 5 GHz) and see if the signal improves and you get less disconnects.

You can also use dual band router settings to spread out traffic more evenly across the two bands, especially on congested home networks. This may prevent disconnects if a lot of devices are stuck on one band – try and move some of them across to the less congested band.

Here are the steps to do this on your Windows device:

  • Log into your router by typing it’s IP address into a browser address bar. The most common are 192.168.0.1 (or 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.1.254). Then type in the username/password which will be on the back of the router if you haven’t changed it.
  • Once logged into your router, you are looking for Wireless Settings or something similar. Or possibly go to Advanced Settings then to Wireless
  • There is usually a toggle/switch/option somewhere to set Separate Bands on or off. Or it may say “Use different names and passwords for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi” or something similar.
  • However it’s worded, make sure it is set to On, or the box to allow splitting is checked.
  • If this option is available, then your router will create separate names for your 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.
  • Note these two SSIDs down, plus the passwords for each.
  • Save settings and exit router.
  • You then connect to whichever of these two SSIDs (2.4 or 5GHz) you want from your devices as normal, and spread out traffic across the two SSIDs (bands) if one band is too congested.
  • Because there are 2 separate networks, this may cause less disconnects if a lot of devices are being used.
  • See our article on enabling/disabling 5 GHz Wi-Fi and switching bands for more details.

Using A Home Networking Solutions For Weak Windows Wi-Fi

Let’s now turn to another important aspect of solving the problem of weak, unstable or disconnecting Wi-Fi – products you can get to solve it. This applies if the problem seems to be more related to your home network in general, and therefore applies to all devices as well as the ones that use Windows operating systems.

There are now a number of home networking solutions available to deliver better wired and wireless internet access across the home. We’ll group them into two broad categories – in order of sophistication – Range Extenders, Powerline Adapters.

Each type of product has it own benefits and drawbacks and are priced differently. We’ll go through all of these different factors to help readers decide if one of these products might be a good option to get better internet coverage in the home.

Solution #1 – Wi-Fi Range Extenders – These are the simplest type of home networking product for boosting weak Wi-Fi. They are a single plug adapter that you plug into a wall socket, and they simply capture and amplify the signal from the main router, hopefully spreading coverage to more parts of the home.

Because they are the simplest home networking products, they also tend to be the cheapest, but also the most hit and miss in terms of their performance.

See this article for a full overview of extenders, plus links to more models. The popular Netgear EX3700 Wi-Fi Extender, is a good option.

Range Extenders – Good For:

  • Lower budgets
  • Boosting Wi-Fi over shorter distances and to one specific area or device.
  • Open plan apartments
  • Helping for browsing or light streaming.

Range Extenders – Not So Good For:

  • Longer distances
  • More obstacles in the way
  • Higher bandwidth demands
  • More widespread coverage over a larger home (may or may not be reliable)

Solution #2 – Powerline Adapters – A more advanced solution that features a kit of 2 plugs, one of which you plug in and connect to your router, the other of which you plug in and connect to your device.

The two plugs then communicate through the existing electrical wiring of the house to deliver a wired internet connection to your device. They can be a great way of bypassing Wi-Fi and getting onto a wired connection even at distance from the main router.

See the video below for a quick 2 minute demonstration of how powerline technology works.

 

You can find links to the TP Link Nano Powerline adapter, pictured above, plus more advanced models, on our Powerline Adapters page.

Powerline Adapters – Good For:

  • High bandwidth users – streamers, downloaders.
  • Online gamers – perfect solution for low ping vs Wi-Fi.
  • Users a long way from the main router
  • Wireless powerline adapters are also available that deliver a cloned wireless access point as well as ethernet ports, for portable device users who want better Wi-Fi.

Powerline Adapters – Not So Good For:

  • Larger homes with long or complex circuitry.
  • House with old, worn, or poorly installed electrical wiring (adapters won’t be able to connect)
  • Houses running of different meters or feeds.
  • Users that would rather stay totally on Wi-Fi – Mesh Systems also an option.

Oliver

Online gamer and general home networking enthusiast. I like to create articles to help people solve common home networking problems.

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