How to Restart Your Router and Fix Common Wi-Fi Problems
How and why you should restart your router and other ways to speed up your Wi-Fi.
May 4, 2023 | Share
In this quick guide, we cover the world’s most useful Wi-Fi troubleshooting fix: the router restart.
Because of how quick, easy, and effective router restarts are, it’s always worth a try and usually the first thing you should do when encountering a Wi-Fi issue.
Just in case a router restart doesn’t fix your problem, we also included some additional Wi-Fi blanket fixes and a few of our more in-depth internet and Wi-Fi troubleshooting resources.
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Why restart your router?
Restarting your router or gateway (modem/router combo) allows the device to reset and flush out any glitches. If you’re experiencing slow internet, disconnecting internet, or sluggish Wi-Fi, an equipment restart is the first thing you should try.
How to restart your router
First of all, whether you have a separate router and modem or a modem/router combo unit called an internet gateway, the restart process is the same.
Note: Your Wi-Fi will go down as soon as you power down your router, modem, or gateway. However, it will be available again when your router or gateway fully reboots.
Step 1: Unplug the power cable from the back of the router or gateway.
Step 2: Wait 60 seconds. This cooldown allows all the power to completely drain from the device and ensures a full restart.
Step 3: Reconnect the power cable to the back of the router or gateway.
Step 4: Wait while the device reboots. This process can take anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes. Most devices have a light that blinks or changes color to indicate the device status.
Step 5: Run a speed test to verify your internet connection works properly.
Restart your gateway using your ISP’s app
Depending on your ISP, you may be able to restart your router via your ISP’s mobile app. Resetting your gateway with your ISP app is easier and just as effective as performing a manual reset.
Router restart vs. router reset
A router restart is not the same thing as a router reset. The first involves briefly disconnecting the device from power in order to reboot the system. A router reset or factory reset is much more serious and will completely wipe your data and settings from the router or gateway.
After a factory reset, your Wi-Fi network name will disappear, and none of your devices will be able to connect to the internet until you set up your network again from scratch. Typically, a factory reset will not help you speed up your Wi-Fi or solve networking malfunctions.
How to fix slow Wi-Fi
Try these general fixes to get sluggish Wi-Fi back up to speed.
Move your router
Where you put your router can greatly impact your Wi-Fi speeds. Elevating your router is an easy way to quickly improve the Wi-Fi signal. If you keep your router on the floor, try putting it on top of a piece of furniture. Also, avoid putting your router underneath or behind anything, as this can cause interference that slows down your internet connection.
Ideally, your router should be centrally located within your home to distribute the Wi-Fi signal evenly. But this often means rewiring your networking cables, which may require a tech. See our guide on how to move your router for more info.
Upgrade your internet plan
If your plan speeds are too low for your internet use, you’ll experience slowdowns and seemingly spotty internet service. If this is you, the only fix is a faster internet plan. You can use our How much internet speed do I need? tool to estimate your bandwidth needs.
If you’d rather cut to the chase, enter your zip to see internet plans and ISPs available in your area. ISPs upgrade their speeds frequently; there’s a good chance you have access to some new internet plans or even a new ISP since you last checked.
Use the right Wi-Fi frequency band
Most routers send out Wi-Fi on two frequency bands: the 2.4 GHz frequency band and 5 GHz frequency band. Each has strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to use the right one. The frequency bands appear as different Wi-Fi networks. The 5 GHz network may have a 5G at the end of the network name (e.g., My WiFi_5G). And you can switch frequency bands by simply connecting to the other Wi-Fi network in your device settings.
The 5 GHz frequency band is faster, but doesn’t have as much range as the 2.4 GHz band. So, if you’re close enough to have a strong 5 GHz signal, use it. If you see the Wi-Fi reception on your device is low, try switching the 2.4 GHz frequency band for a better signal.
See our guide on 2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz Wi-Fi to ensure you’re using the right frequency band for your needs.
Check your cables
Your Wi-Fi router can’t do its job without a stable internet connection, which it receives via networking cable. Check to see that cables aren’t damaged, kinked, or loose. Coaxial cables should snug, and Ethernet cables fully inserted into the socket. Especially look out for Ethernet cables with a degraded spring clip, which causes the cable fitting to sit loosely in the socket. Replace any damaged cables.
Switch to a different Wi-Fi channel
Within each Wi-Fi frequency band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) are Wi-Fi channels. Your router automatically selects one channel to broadcast internet signals to your devices. Sometimes, the channel you’re using may be congested with too many signals, all fighting for the same airwaves. Switching to a less crowded channel can improve the speed and quality of your Wi-Fi.
To switch your Wi-Fi channel, log in to your router. Every router interface is different, but there should be a Wireless or Wi-Fi tab with your Wi-Fi network’s channel settings. To find a clear Wi-Fi channel, you can use a tool like NetSpot (see our NetSpot guide). Or, you can simply cycle through the available Wi-Fi channels in your router settings and use a speed test to see if one of the channels improves your Wi-Fi performance.
Restart your modem
If you have a separate modem, it’s a good idea to restart that as well. The process is the same as a router reset, so you can reference the instructions above. If you have a gateway (modem/router), your modem resets along with the router since both units exist in one piece of equipment.
Other Wi-Fi troubleshooting resources
Author - Austin Aguirre
Austin worked as a broadband technician installing and troubleshooting countless home internet networks for some of the largest ISPs in the U.S. He became a freelance writer in 2020 specializing in software guides. After graduating with a BS in technical communication from Arizona State University, he joined the team at HighSpeedInternet.com where he focuses on home network improvement and troubleshooting.