Problems and interference with your home network are frustrating, to say the least. With how much we rely on the Internet, whether it be for work or play, it needs to be functioning properly — at least most of the time. We’re going to show you how you can use Windows 10 to troubleshoot some of the most basic problems with your home network. If you found that your router or ISP wasn’t the source of your Internet troubles, then it most likely has to deal with something with your PC, whether that be on the software or hardware side of things.

Warnings

Signs that you’re having trouble with your home network are synonymous with network problems in general. That in mind, if you read our router troubleshooting guide, you might find some similarities.

  1. Dropped connections: If you are consistently getting a dropped connection to your home Wi-Fi network, this could indicate either point to a failing router or software-side problems with Windows 10. You might want to try using a different computer to ensure the problem is exclusive with your machine. In your Network Status, Windows might tell you you something like have “Limited Connectivity,” too. Other times, the connection will work fine for a few hours, but randomly drop or return to that “Limited Connectivity” warning.
  2. PC fails to join network: In other cases, you might find that your computer is having trouble joining the home network entirely. In most cases, this is usually because the user is entering the SSID (name of the network) or security configuration (i.e. WEP, WPA, etc) wrong; however, sometimes it just doesn’t let you join for no apparent reason.
  3. PC failing to join any network: One problem you might see in addition to the last one is that your PC is failing to join any network. This could indicate a problem with your wireless card, whether that be on the hardware side of things or on the software side, which would probably be related to missing drivers or drivers needing updated. In this scenario, your network card might not even see any networks at all.

Troubleshooting

The first step is to make sure your network problems are exclusive to the machine you’re using. That in mind, if you have another machine in the house, check to make sure it’s not having the same problem you’re experiencing. If you don’t have one, sometimes you can connect to the Wi-Fi on your smartphone and see the same problems (e.g. failure to join, will join, but pages won’t load, etc).

If it isn’t having the same problem, the issue is likely with that PC.  The first step is to make sure your router is turned on. Maybe the power cable was accidentally pulled out of the wall or the power strip it’s plugged into was accidentally shut off. And, if you use an Ethernet cable, make sure it’s firmly plugged into the computer.

If that didn’t help, you could be experiencing issues with security settings. Maybe when joining the network, you’re entering the wrong security protocol (e.g. it’s setup on WEP instead of WPA). Make sure you’re using the correct security protocol as well as entering in the network name (or ID) correctly. Also make sure that you’re entering the network’s password in correctly, too. By now, you should at least be able to join the network. If not, there’s still some things we can do.

Next, we’ll want to look at our drivers for the network adapter. Head into Device Manager (can be found using the search box) and under Network adapters, select your network adapter. You’ll want to right click on it and select Update Driver Software > Search automatically for updated driver software. This should automatically download and install new updates to the network adapter. Sometimes you may need to do it manually, which you can do by heading to the PC manufacturer’s website and grabbing it from there, or, if it was a custom built PC, head to the website of the network adapters manufacturer and grab it from there. If you can’t access the Internet on your PC, you’ll obviously need to do this on a different machine and transfer the driver’s install wizard over by way of a USB stick or some other method.

In some cases, it’s the new driver update that is causing you network problems. Thankfully, Windows 10 has a built-in feature that makes it easy to rollback to the previous version. Under Device Manager, you’ll want to right-click on your network adapter again and select Properties. From there, you should have a Driver tab. Under that tab, you should see a Roll back driver selection. Click it and follow the steps. If you don’t have that option, that means that there’s nothing to roll back to.

As usual, you’ll want to restart your PC after rolling back or installing an update to see if that fixed the problem.

Another option we have is using Windows 10’s built-in networking troubleshooter to find any problems. Simply type in Network Troubleshooter in the Search box. You should see Identify and repair network problems in the list of results — select it and follow the steps. This will attempt to repair any network problems it finds.

If this didn’t work, we’ll next want to temporarily disable the firewall and any antivirus or anti-malware programs you have on your PC. It’s not uncommon for these programs to block your Internet connection (particularly the firewall). If you found that any of these three things were the problem and the Internet connection is working after disabling one of the programs, either contact the software manufacturer, see if there are any new updates to the software with a fix or find new software that isn’t going to create a block like this.

One thing that Microsoft says you can do is reset the TCP/IP stack, release and renew the IP address and flush and reset the DNS settings. This doesn’t always work, but is worth a shot. To do that, open up Command Prompt and type in the following commands, as outlined by Microsoft:

  1. Type netsh winsock reset and press Enter.
  2. Type netsh int ip reset and press Enter.
  3. Type ipconfig /release and press Enter.
  4. Type ipconfig /renew and press Enter.
  5. Type ipconfig /flushdns and press Enter.

There’s one final option you can attempt — network reset. We put together a detailed guide (with a companion video) on how to do it. You can find that here (and the video below).

If none of the above steps solved your problem, it may be time to look at your router (see our troubleshooting guide here) and maybe even get in contact with your ISP to make sure that’s not the source of the problem. On the software side of things, we’ve done most of what you can do, so it might just be time to start broadening the scope as to what the issue could be. Network problems are a fickle thing and aren’t the easiest thing to track down.

Closing

As we’ve already said, home networking problems are frustrating, largely because we rely on the Internet so much, but also because the problem can be so difficult to track down. It’s a time consuming process. But, by following the troubleshooting steps above, you should be able to resolve the issue and get back to surfing the Web in no time!

We hope we were able to help you resolve your home network problems. But, we realize this series of steps may not work for everyone, as every situation is unique. If you want some additional assistance, be sure to head on over to the PCMech forum and post your problem to get some additional help from the PCMech community!