How do you know when you need a new router? I’ll outline the three most obvious ways your router waves the white flag and a offer a few techniques that might pull it back from the brink.
Sign 1: You had Internet access yesterday, but you can’t log on today. Your router’s lights might all be illuminated, or they might be dark. Windows informs you that you have “Limited Connectivity” or, worse, it says nothing at all.
Suggestions: This is a pretty good clue that your router has suffered a catastrophic failure. First, check your connections: Try using a different Ethernet cable and, if possible, a different computer. Maybe it’s your system that’s being fussy and not your networking device. If you can, unplug the router from the modem and unplug it from its electrical outlet. Cycle the power on the modem. Wait. Plug the router back into the modem, and then plug the router back into the wall.
No dice? Prepare a short speech to commemorate the good times you had your router had together.
Sign 2: You can’t seem to get anything done without your connection dropping off and reconnecting after a short delay. These interruptions are more frequent and annoying than you remember them ever being before. You can barely go a few hours without the wireless signal dropping out.
Suggestions: Look into this strange behavior by opening the router’s online configuration screen and hunt for the option that resets the device to its default factory settings. Password-lock your wireless network just in case some third-party traffic is overloading your device. Check the manufacturer’s site for firmware updates, and install them if you find any that are newer than the firmware you’re already using. Try powering off your wireless signal to see if you can at least sustain an uninterrupted wired connection.
If none of that works, switch the router to a new electrical connection, just in case a power glitch is zapping your device on and off. Try moving your router to a new location: Nearby interference could be impacting your wireless connection. Or, to battle interference another way, load the configuration screen and adjust the channel being used for your wireless signal.
Sign 3: You know you’re using all four ports on the router, but no lights indicate that a connection is present. All the lights on the front could also be solid and illuminated. Or the light indicating the router’s connection to your DSL or cable modem just keeps blinking, and blinking, and … .
Suggestions: Power-cycle your router by unplugging it, waiting 30 seconds, and plugging it back in. You can also try a hard reset — most routers come with a tiny button that, when held in for four to seven seconds, resets the device to its factory default settings. Make sure it isn’t running hot to the touch, and check the room’s ventilation. Though it’s rare, your device might have simply overheated.
Unplug and reattach your Ethernet cables and, if possible, use spares to test whether you can achieve a sustained connection between your router and your DSL or cable modem. If you haven’t already, go into the router’s configuration screens and update the firmware to the latest version supplied by the manufacturer. Remove any non-networking devices attached to the router (like a USB device) and give it a reset.
If you’ve worked through these suggestions and the router still isn’t performing up to snuff, it’s time to look into getting a new one. Check out D-Link’s site (whenever you can find some Wi-Fi) for a replacement device or other support assistance.