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The most common Wi-Fi problems and how to fix them

We my not have to disconnect from the Internet to make a phone call anymore, but Wi-Fi problems persist. Here are some of the common issues you will run into and how to fix them.

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Josh Miller/CNET

Internet speeds and Wi-Fi have both improved significantly over the last several years. Data speeds are faster across the board and wireless connections are more reliable than ever.

However, Wi-Fi isn't without issue. Hang out at a Starbucks long enough and you can experience it firsthand.

Once you've set up your home network, here are some very common issues you may run into with Wi-Fi and how to correct them.

Slow connection

Despite faster speeds reaching most homes around the globe, wireless (and often wired) networks can get bogged down. If your Internet connection is still working but the speeds are slower than normal, there is usually a logical explanation that can usually be fixed.

Cause: The most obvious problem with Wi-Fi speeds slowing down is being too far from the router. The further you are from the router, the more unreliable the connection and its throughput will become.

Fix: To fix this, just get a little closer. If the router is located in a different room, try going into the room where the router is located and see if that fixes the issue. If this is a consistent issue, try to position your router higher (up on a shelf), away from other devices, which can interfere with it, and in a central location in your home.

If that doesn't work, consider purchasing a second router and a set of powerline network adapters to extend your network.

Cause: Another cause for slowdowns is a lack of bandwidth. If everyone is home and using their computers, phones and televisions for data-hungry applications, your typically speedy Internet is being spread thin and shared across multiple devices.

Fix: Disconnect any devices that you aren't actively using. If multiple people are trying to stream videos from, say, YouTube and Netflix, while someone else is trying to game online, you can try connecting one or more of the devices directly to the router using a Cat-5 ethernet cable to free up some of the wireless bandwidth. But the problem may be that you just don't have fast enough Internet speeds to support everything at once.

There is also the possibility that someone nearby is leeching off your Internet. To prevent this from happening, be sure to setup security for your network and give out the password sparingly.

Cause: Interference can be a real issue, especially in crowded areas. When most people first get their Internet set up, they leave settings unchanged, which means default wireless frequency channels -- like 1, 6 and 11 -- become very crowded.

Fix: Fortunately, many newer model routers are capable of automatically selecting the least crowded frequencies upon rebooting. Perform a power cycle on your router or, log in to the admin panel and manually select a different channel.

Additionally, if you have a dual-band router, try enabling both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Keep the 5GHz channel open for your most important connections.

Cause: During peak hours, Internet speeds can slow for everyone, especially in crowded, urban areas.

Fix: All you can really do when this is the case, if possible, is try to schedule your usage outside peak hours to get the best speeds.

Cause: Wireless technology has changed quite a bit over the last 10 years. New wireless standards have been put in place, speeds are faster than ever, fiber is being offered in more areas and devices you never thought would require an Internet connection need Wi-Fi -- televisions, speakers, refrigerator, printers, lights and more. The problem could easily be an outdated router.

Fix: If you think the limitation lies with your router, it may be time to start saving up for a new one. Upgrading your router every two years or so is good practice and can help you avoid certain issues altogether.

No Internet connection

Cause: Periodically, something glitches and the router or modem (or combination) just stop communicating. There isn't always an explanation. It just happens.

Fix: The best place to start is pulling the plug. Disconnect the modem and router from power and wait at least 30 seconds before restoring power to both.

Cause: For me, one of the most common problems that occurs with my Internet is the connection dropping completely -- not due to a hardware issue on my end, but rather a massive service outage.

Fix: Not much you can do here. You can go to the nearest coffee shop or get on the phone with your Internet service provider (ISP) and let them know you're affected. Sadly, this usually won't do much to speed up the recovery time, but it can help the ISP know more about which areas are affected by an outage.