Is Your Wireless Connection Dropping?

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Woman mad at computerIs your wireless connection dropping unexpectedly? For example, while you’re away from the computer, or if the screensaver kicks in, or if you don’t use the internet for a while? The most common causes for a wireless connection drop are your wireless router and network card. We’re going to teach you some troubleshooting tips, in order of helpfulness, that should get your wireless connection back up and running because we all know how annoying it can be if your internet keeps dropping.

Would you prefer to have an expert help you out? Visit GeekSquad’s website today.

First: Set Your Router to a Specific Channel

We’ve been asked, “Why does my internet keep dropping?” from Time Warner’s Road Runner customers in particular, so we’ve decided to post it at the top of this article in case it saves anyone time. The symptoms are a wireless connection that literally will drop out quickly for seconds at a time. If your cell phone (iPhone) is on the same network, the battery will drain super quickly because of the phone switching to 3G every time the connection drops. The WiFi goes in and out and users are stumped.

Here’s a tip that can get your wireless connection from dropping out repeatedly. If you are using a router (particularly a dual band router), you’ll want to go into the wireless settings (usually under “setup”), and specify a channel. Try using a different channel than the default, and make this setting for both of your bands (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz) if you’re using a dual bound router. Definitely, do not use the “auto” setting. From our troubleshooting, it appears that this is the main culprit. Try setting a higher channel, and if that doesn’t work, try different channels. It’s very possible that there are enough networks in your immediate area on the same channel that they’re conflicting with each other, thus the router keeps dropping internet.

If this solution works for you, please comment below!

Other Potential Solutions

If switching the router channel doesn’t stop the WiFi going in and out, you can try these other tips to help prevent your wireless connection from dropping.

Check Your Wireless Power Settings

First, see if your computer is managing your wireless card’s power. It may be instructed to shut off your wireless connectivity after a certain amount of idle time goes by. If you have system specific utilities, such as Dell’s Quickset, make sure that the wireless power management isn’t set to shut off the card if your computer is idle for a certain period of time.  Second, you’ll want to check the settings on your wireless card via your device manager. In Windows XP:

  • Right-click on “My Computer” and select “Properties”
  • Select “Hardware” and click on “Device Manager”
  • Find your wireless card under “Network adapters” and double-click it
  • Verify that there aren’t any auto power management settings enabled that might be shutting your card down prematurely

Power Cycle Your HardwarePower cycle your wireless router

Another thing to try is to simply shut down all your hardware – i.e. your PC, your modem, your router, your laptop, etc. – anything on the network. Then power them back on in the following order: modem -> router -> PC (wired) -> laptop (wireless) and see if that fixes the issue. As part of this solution, you may need to manually reset your router.

How to Reset Your Router

Before resetting please make sure you’ve backed up all your router settings such as network passwords, etc. (these custom settings typically include: static IP entries, DNS settings, router admin password, wireless settings, port forwarding, routing and DHCP settings). These will be lost during the reset. Most routers offer some sort of backup function you may be able to utilize, but I recommend writing things down on good old-fashioned pen and paper as well.

The reset process will depend on the model, but typically there is a small “reset” button somewhere on the router that you can activate with the end of a paper clip. You’ll need to hold the button down for 10 seconds or so (usually the router lights will flash to indicate it worked), and that will indicate that the router has been reset. Just log into it and see if the settings are back to what they were when you purchased it. Next you’ll want to login to the router and restore all of your settings, such as your Wi-Fi passwords, etc. (you may need to plug directly into it if you were using a web login, as that may have been disabled).

One of the most common routers we get asked how to reset is the CenturyLink router, so we’ve provided detailed instructions next.

How To Reset CenturyLink Router

This is straight from the CenturyLink website:

  1. Press and hold the reset button.
  2. Release the reset button after the lights on the modem start flickering (10 to 15 seconds).
  3. Wait 3 to 5 minutes for the Internet light to turn green.
  4. Try connecting to the Internet.
  5. You may be asked for account related information to reprogram your modem.

If resetting your router didn’t solve your wifi connectivity issues, proceed to more potential solutions below.

Update Your Router Firmware and Wireless Card Drivers

If all of the above hasn’t prevented your wireless connection from dropping, you’ll want to update the firmware of your wireless router, and you’ll want to update your wireless card drivers. This should solve the problem most of the time. With any firmware or driver update, please make sure you are retrieving the update directly from the manufacturer’s website.

Stay Clear of Driver Robot!

There’s quite a bit of marketing being done by the company Blitware around software such as Driver Robot which is supposed to help you find and update drivers that match your hardware configuration. It has been brought to our attention that the software, while not a virus, may install so-called adware, that may slow down and prevent your computer from functioning correctly.

A rule of thumb with drivers is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Driver updates should only be installed if you are currently experiencing issues and told by the manufacturer that updating your driver will help resolve the problem. Finally, make sure that you are only downloading drivers from the manufacturer’s website, and not from a third-party.

If your PC is already infected by adware, you can download Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware for free to remove it.

Adjust Your Wireless Router Settings

  • Lower the MTU (Maximum Transmission Unit) from 1500 to 1492 or less (usually found on your router’s main/ basic setup page)
  • Adjust the following advanced wireless settings:
    • Lower the beacon interval from 100 to 50
    • Lower the fragmentation threshold from 2346 to 2306
    • Lower the RTS threshold from 2347 to 2304

That should solve your wireless connectivity problems and should prevent your wireless connection from dropping.

How Often is Your Wireless Connection Dropping?

Every Couple of Seconds

Does your wireless connection connect, then disconnect, then connect again, only to disconnect two seconds later, and so on and so forth? It could be that your PC is trying to find an IP address and the DHCP server (which hands out IP addresses) isn’t cooperating or isn’t finding one. If you’re using Windows, open a command prompt by browsing to Start -> Run -> and type in “cmd.exe”.

In the command prompt window, type the following: “ipconfig.exe /release” followed by “ipconfig.exe /renew“. You’ll get a status message that may help you pinpoint the issue.

Wireless Connection Drops in WPA Mode

If you can get your wireless adapter to connect without security encryption set (ie. WEP or WPA), but it drops every couple of seconds when you use WPA mode, try updating the network card driver’s firmware.

We had a similar experience on a Dell Inspiron laptop. The included Intel Pro 2200BG network card worked for a couple of years, but then every time we’d take it to a public internet location, connect via WiFi, then bring it back home to connect to our WPA network, the connection drop issues would resume.

If your WiFi keeps dropping, you will need to reset your router.

Resetting Your Wireless Router to Factory Default Settings

Resetting your router can usually be done by inserting a pin (like the end of a paper clip, not a knife or mechanical pencil) in a little hole at the back of the router, and holding it down for 10 seconds or so. You should see all the lights on the front of the router flash, signaling that the router has been reset to factory default settings. After this, power cycle all your equipment.

You’ll then need to reconfigure your router’s security settings. I recommend using WPA2/TKIP+AES this time around and setting a new password. If you were cloning your MAC address this setting should be disabled, which means you’ll be assigned a new IP address.

Restart your laptop, select the wireless network in range you want to connect to, select “advanced settings” at right, and in the list of networks, edit the properties of your network. In the Properties dialog, you’ll want to specify the new security protocol (in Windows XP, you’ll only have WPA/TKIP available – this will work for WPA2), enter your new password, and save your settings. We also recommend clicking the advanced button and opting to not have Windows automatically connect to the network.

Hopefully, your WiFi will now connect and remain stable. If you keep losing internet connection, comment below for help.

Additional Tips and Tricks

IP Address Already Allocated Message

If, when running ipconfig, as described above, you get an IP address already allocated message, it means the DHCP server is unable to assign you a new IP address. You can try logging in to your router (usually by going to // and enabling the DHCP server (if it isn’t already), and then increasing the Maximum Number of DHCP Users.

If you’re going to set up a static IP address as described below, you’ll also want to define two static DNS addresses. Check your router’s DNS addresses for ones to use (on our Linksys WRT54G router they can be found by going to Status -> Router).

Assign a Static IP Address to Your Computer

If none of the above work, and your computer is currently set to retrieve its IP address automatically, you may want to try to give it a static IP address instead. To do so, simply:

  • Browse to Control Panel -> Network Connections
  • Right-click your wireless connection and select “Properties”
  • Select the TCP/IP protocol, and edit its properties.
    • Set your static IP address as follows:
      • IP: An IP address within the range assigned by your router (usually defaults to between and that is not taken by another device. To see which device IP’s are in use, check the DHCP clients table in your router (on our Linksys WRT54G router the client table can be found by browsing to Status -> Local Network))
      • Subnet Mask:
      • Gateway:
      • DNS: Assign DNS records corresponding with the ones specified in your router’s static DNS settings (described above)

Save your settings and restart your PC and see if your connection works. If not, and you’re running Windows XP, you might want to try this Winsock fix tool as a last resort. Just make sure you backup your registry first in case anything goes awry.

Disable Third-Party Networking Utilities

If you’re still stuck, it’s possible that third-party software is interfering with your network settings. Try disabling any third-party networking software you may have installed, power cycle through your system, and see if that gets the wireless connection back up and running.

If not, you can try to manually reset Winsock and TCP/IP. Just make sure you create a system restore point and backup your registry before trying either of the below methods.

If your Windows Sockets (Winsock) registry subkeys are corrupted, you can recreate them by running the following in a command prompt window (Start -> Run -> type “cmd.exe”):

netsh int ip reset resetlog.txt

If that doesn’t work, you can try completely reinstalling the keys as follows:

  • Uninstall the TCP/IP protocol
  • If prompted, do not restart the computer now
  • Delete the following registry keys:
    • [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\WinSock2
    • [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\WinSock
  • This time, restart the computer
  • Reinstall the TCP/IP protocol

Trying to Renew IP Address Error

If you start getting the trying to renew IP address error, your connection is probably struggling to find an IP address as described above. Try the above solutions, if they don’t work, and your connection works despite this message, simply ignore it. To have Windows diagnose the issue, run the Windows network diagnostic tool as described below.

Windows Network Diagnostic Tool

The Windows network diagnostic tool will analyze various components of your network connection and point out problems it finds. You can run it as follows:

  • In Microsoft Internet Explorer, click Diagnose Connection Problems on the Tools menu.
  • Browse to Start -> Run -> and type %windir%\network diagnostic\xpnetdiag.exe, and then click OK.

Network Diagnostics Freezes at 99% When Formatting Results

As with any system changes, make sure to create a Windows restore point and/or backup your registry prior to making any changes.

If the Windows network diagnostic tool almost completes, but freezes at 99% as it’s “formatting results,” you can try downloading an updated version using the link above, or do the following:

  • Start > Run -> type regsvr32 jscript.dll, and click OK
  • Start > Run -> type regsvr32 regsvr32 wshom.ocx, and click OK
  • Start > Run -> type regsvr32 scrrun.dlll, and click OK

iPhone Wifi Connection Keeps Disconnecting

Here are some tips for iOS users to stop your internet connection from dropping.

Hope the WiFi dropping has stopped! But if not check out more troubleshooting articles or leave us a reader question.

What tips do you have for stopping your wireless connection from dropping?

About The Author:

Alex bring a series of in-depth articles on search marketing and content management systems as well as troubleshooting tips to We Rock Your Web's collection. He is an avid tennis player, nature enthusiast, and hiker, and enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, and dogs, Bella and Lily.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

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I experience a significant slow down every 5-7 seconds on my Desktop computer, My Connection is 100 Mbps, it will drop completely sometimes, or drop to 2-4Mbps. My Laptop, 3 phones, two tablets, and Xbox Ones all at varying distances from the router (Closest being the Xbox in the same room, farthest being the teenager’s Xbox in her room, with my desktop being in the room between) connect just fine and speedtest just fine. 100+ Mbps. The dongle I use is the Realtek AC USB Novel (I can dig up a link if needed).

My attempts to get the connection to stay at full strength: Driver update, settings changes, channel selection, Wired Keyboard and mouse, turning off every device in the house, including unplugging microwave, stove, fridge (none of which are actually between the desktop and the wireless router). Dongle is currently plugged into a 4 foot extension and is gently tacked to the wall at my eye level.

Here’s what i noticed: During this last measure of getting the dongle on an extension… There is a blue light on the dongle that represents the connectivity (i think). When it is transferring data is flashes very quickly, when it’s idle and doing nothing it flashes very quickly, except every 5-7 seconds or so, it flashes 4-5 times at a specific interval, then when the last flash would occur at that interval, it hesitates that 10th of a second, then goes back to the very fast flash of data transfer.

Any input would be helpful. OH, yes i unchecked the “allow this computer to shut off this device to save power” option.

Changing the channel worked! Thanks a lot! Saved me from a lot of trouble.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Glad we could help!
Don’t know why this worked but after constant WiFi dropping for my home network only (have tried dozens of fixes) I turned off Enhanced LTE Services on my ZTE phone. After months of this irritating problem WiFi is no longer dropping!
Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
So glad to hear this helped you out!
Thank you for your blog article. Great.
Burt Silver
I like how you give suggestions for fixing wireless connection drops. It’s been difficult for me to pinpoint the issue because it seems to be really sporadic. I’m thinking that maybe it would be a good time to look into a good and reliable internet service in my area.
I’m not sure what the problem is, I watch a lot of movies on my laptop which I connected to my TV. I get WIFI through a service, the movies freeze and buffer so much that it takes 3 hours to watch a 90 minute movie. Even Netflix does it, can some one Please HELP
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Do you have internet that is fast enough to stream video content?
Vince J.
This actually worked for me. I just bought a new computer and was beating my brains out as to why my connection kept dropping out when it never did that before on the old one. I used the first step mentioned in this article, now everything is working just fine. I have a dual-band router, I went into the settings and increased the number of channels under 2ghz from the default 9 to 11. That area wasn’t set to “auto”. I then went under the 5ghz area, it was set to “auto”, and changed the channel number to 136. I saved the changes, rebooted the computer, went to a number of websites, and saw that I was no longer having any kind of dropping issues.

Thanks Alex for writing this very thorough article. It certainly fixed the connection issue on my computer. Much appreciated. 🙂

Thank you, thank you, thank you! My connection drops constantly, and I have to reboot the laptop to get it back. Have turned off the power options, rebooted the modem and router, and tried any number of suggestions from various sites to no avail. But once I adjusted the router’s beacon, fragmentation and RTS settings I haven’t dropped the connection at all. (I couldn’t find the MTU setting on my router though.) It’s only been 24 hours so far, but I’m amazed at the difference, it appears that this solved my problem. I’ll keep you posted, but so far, so good!
I’ve tried a few of these, will try more. My pc drops 5ghz wifi when I do large, or sustained downloads. Even when doing a speed test. Sped surges to 90mbps then after a sec or so, it drops the inet. Power saving mode on adapter is off. 1200ac adapter. My android phone has np doing a speed test. Need help.
The power management was set to allow shut off to save battery. unchecked it. Works brilliantly! Thanks!
Cassie Griffin
It may because of hacking thing because they make your pc slow and enter your security loophole.
Barbara R Barnes
I have a pc and it is connected by wires. At times it drops twice a min and recently 17 times in an hour, making it impossible to do anything. On my tablet it is less issue. The problem is, I can understand what you are saying but it’s like Greek to me- I have no idea how to figure out what my router’s settings are before I start. I have another network next door to me for the farmer’s satellite connections- could that be interfering with it? and it does come up when I am using my tablet wirelessly. So what do I do now?
You the man. Good stuff. Works!!!
I have one problem with this article – “We’re going to teach you some troubleshooting tips, ” == there is no troubleshooting here. It is like an auto mechanic replacing parts till he finds the right one. All of the stated solutions can be a cause and are valid, but you are assuming people understand the difference between a “wireless connection” dropping and the internet connection dropping.
There are some simple steps one can perform to actually TROUBLESHOOT the problem. When the problem occurs, look at the list of wireless SSIDs to see if the one you are connected to has disconnected or disappeared, or if all SSIDs have disappeared. A disconnect would indicate an interference or configuration issue with the router or device. In the extreme, it could be a hardware issue with either. If the SSID disappeared – but others have not – then it is a router issue. If all SSIDs have disappeared it is a device issue. If you are still connected then maybe you are mistaking a wireless connection drop for an internet connection drop and need to be looking at your ISP-modem-router interface.
My internet keeps dropping and this helped me so much! More specifically my router keeps dropping and I used the tips in this article and haven’t had an issue since. Thanks so much for the help! It was driving me crazy.
My internet connection keeps dropping like yours, router issue. My laptop keeps dropping wifi and it’s been really annoying. I’m enrolled in summer classes right now and it’s difficult to do my homework. Came across this article last night and bam, this issue is fixed! Many thanks man.
It’s early days, but following the instructions here I changed the channel setting only and it certainly has resulted in no dropouts in the last few hours (when I would expect 1 or two each hour). My modem was set to ‘Auto’ previously. My service provider has struggled for a month to resolve the issue, blaming their wholesaler the NBN etc when a search by myself found this article. Really makes you wonder how a provider does not know about this range of troubleshooting options to recommend to their customers. So thanks – your article sure does rock!
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Glad we could help Simon!
Hello All, I am losing connection every couple of minutes ie trying to watch twitch and it constantly buffers, playing online games and losing connection. Can watch Netflix on smart tv no problems??
Hello, I have a laptop that is constantly dropping my internet but it only happens on this laptop. Like clockwork, about every 10 minutes, then reconnects right away. Only down for seconds. Very annoying. My router is a dual band and supports AC which the laptop with the issue supports. None of the other computers support AC. Could this be the issue and what is the fix? When I travel with this laptop it stays connected 100%. All other computers in the house NEVER drop??? very confused.
Joe Reinhardt
Hi Alex, I hope you can help me. After a Win10 update a couple months ago, I lost the 2.4 GHz band on my Triband Netgear Nighthawk X6 but both the 5.1 bands work. This only impacts my legacy devices (HP printer and HP pavilion laptop) as everything else is on the other bands. But it is an irritant not being able to wirelessly print. My PC was custom built by a local shop but the motherboard does not have wifi. I did notice that the 2.4 band came back online when I turned the PC off. But as soon as it turned the PC back on, the 2.4 band went away again. I tried changing to different channels thru the router setup, rebooting the cable modem, router and PC several times to no avail. Any suggestions? Thanks! Joe
Yu-ming Hung
After updating driver of wireless and fireware of router, the wifi still dropping out every 5 to 10 min with Time Warner cable. The first method seems to work perfectly for my new 2016 XPS 9360 laptop. For the first time with this laptop, I am able to use internet without disconnection. Thanks a lot for the article. It’s really works.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Glad we could help you!
Thanks so much!! I have a dual band router and changing the channel setting from automatic to a set channel fixed our interrupted Internet connection.
Prashant Rajpoot
My wifi connection drops whenever I connect two devices simultaneously, otherwise when only single device is connected to wifi it works fine. Please help.
Thank you for this article. Dropped Wi-Fi signal on laptop and tablet and cell phone has been annoying me for months but just didn’t have time to deal with it. Finally got frustrated enough and had a few minutes to deal so I Googled “why does my wi-fi connection keep dropping” and mercifully your article was at the top of the list.

I did a few tweaks and I believe this will make life a whole lot better. First, I changed the channel selection from ‘auto’ to a higher set channel. Second, I checked the wireless adapter power management and set it to NOT auto shut off. I had done this through my computer settings a while back but forgot to go direct to the card. And, last, for good measure, I adjusted the Advanced Wireless Settings as you suggested. I have a dynamic IP so the MTU doesn’t work for that. Otherwise, I have been watching my cell phone and the signal strength has stayed strong. Time will tell if this makes a difference but if not I shall return and try the other suggestions. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this info together. You saved me valuable time and that is my greatest asset these days.

Kimberly Alt (Admin)
So glad to hear it worked for you! Thank you for the kind words!
Command prompt one fixed my wireless issue on Windows 10, thanks much!
Pam Flowers
I’ve tried everything , so I bought a belkin USB it’s posed to fix the problem, but it didn’t fix mine.
Thanks for the great resource! I have already passed it on to other people that have different issues than mine. I tried all of the relevant fixes listed, but the one thing I haven’t seen anyone else mention about their drops is that when my wifi drops, I have to restart my laptop – every time! The icon shows available networks, but when I try to connect, the sidebar menu says there is no connection available. My remedy is to restart the computer and then I am back in business. This is super frustrating, though. Any ideas?