Home and Wireless Network Tips and Troubleshooting

With more people working remotely across the globe, we are using more and different parts of our IT infrastructure. The tips below help ensure that your local/in-home network is working as well as possible and may help resolve issues you might experience.  

Note: If you experience issues with your Internet connection, you will need to resolve them with your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Depending on your provider and the technology in use, experiences will vary. The more common technologies are:

  • Fiber optic (e.g. Google fiber): Offers high speeds and the most resiliency, even if many of your neighbors use it.
  • Cable modem (e.g. Comcast, Spectrum, AT&T): Offers high speeds, but performance may suffer when many of your neighbors are also working from home. Providers are aware of this limitation and many are taking steps to mitigate potential issues. 

Tips for the Best Wireless Experience

  • Secure your network 
    • Choose a strong, unique password or passphrase to login to your wireless router.
    • Use WPA2 encryption and a passphrase for your network.
  • Test your speed by going to http://speedtest.net - Internet service providers recommend 25Mbps download speeds for broadband applications.
  • Optimize wireless router location – Ideally, place the router in an elevated location in an open area, like on a desk or shelf. Do not place it on the floor, in a closet, in a corner, or directly next to any thick solid barriers. Concrete, brick, and stone are all difficult for wireless signals to penetrate. Electronics like microwaves can cause interference. Ensure that your router is not near other electronics.
  • Check for version – Look on your router’s label for the protocol it’s using. Consider upgrading it router if it isn’t 802.11ac or 802.11ax.
  • Limit non-essential network activity – If others on your network are streaming or downloading, limit this activity. Consider disconnecting smart devices that are using the network.
  • Multiple wireless routers? – If you have several wireless routers, avoid mixing brands.
  • Weak signal? – If your WiFi signal is weak, consider a wireless range extender.
  • Upgrade firmware - Consult the owner’s manual or your vendor’s online documentation for guidance.
  • Use 5GHz instead of 2.4GHz - If your router’s protocol is 802.11ac, it uses 5GHz by default. “Dual band” routers provide two networks, one that often ends with “5G.” Select the 5G network as the preferred network on your devices. 
  • Stay close – Position yourself as close to your router as possible to take advantage 5GHz.
  • Check your channel - Many routers have an automatic channel setting. You can also setting 2.4GHz networks to channels 1, 6, or 11 manually to reduce interference. See the next tip.
  • Possible neighborhood interference? Use Network Analyzer Lite (iOS) or WiFi Analyzer (Android) to see where your wireless network falls in relation to your neighbors’. Change your router’s channel if you experience interference.
  • Range versus coverage -- If you’re concerned about range over coverage:
    • Upgrade the antenna(s) on your wireless router.
    • Consider a range extender for your network.
    • Your vendor might offer a “mesh” network that allows multiple wireless routers/access points. If you have multiple access points and can connect them using Ethernet cables, network performance will improve.

Troubleshooting Issues with Connection/Connection Speed 

If you can’t reach an application (e.g. Zoom) from your computer:

  • Try to another site, e.g., Google (https://google.com/). If that works, there may be a temporary issue with the application you are trying to reach. You can check for known issues on Duke’s IT Status page. https://status.oit.duke.edu/.
  • If another site doesn’t work, try connecting with another device.
  • If you can connect with the other device, restart your computer and be sure networking is enabled. If you still have issues:

If you experience slow response times for applications/sites (e.g., Zoom messages about issues with your Internet connection), try the following: 

  •  Test another device to see if the issue is related to either your computer or your network:
    • If the other device is also slow, restart your router.
    • If the other device is not slow, close programs on your computer that may be using the wireless network.
    • If you’re still experiencing issues, reboot your computer.
  • Move closer to your wireless router.
  • Disconnect or limit use of other non-essential devices on your network.
  • Call or check your Internet Service Provider’s website to see if there are service issues in your area.
  • Check the cables connecting your wireless router to your Internet Service Provider’s equipment (e.g. modem). Ensure cable connections are tight. If you have spares, consider replacing cables.
  • If you have an Ethernet cable, try plugging your computer directly to your ISP equipment. 

 

 
 

Article Number: KB0032708