If you are a regular user of the Internet and have been for a while, you have probably encountered difficulty connecting your computer or mobile devices to the network at one time or another. Network glitches could appear when you are streaming a movie or a smart speaker no longer plays music.
These connection problems can usually be solved by a complete reboot of your network. It sounds intimidating, but it’s quite easy. The process does take a few minutes to complete, though.
Modem vs. Router
To reboot your network, make sure you know the difference between the modem and the router.
A modem is a device that connects your home to your Internet service provider (ISP). The connection is usually made through a coax cable.
The router manages all the information going to and from each device in your home and makes sure all the data ends up where it belongs.
In short, the modem brings the Internet into your house, and the router connects your devices to the Internet.
How to Reboot Your Home Network
As you reboot your network, you must follow the steps in the correct order, or you may lose the Internet entirely.
1. Shut down your computer and turn off all your mobile devices. This includes all items like smart speakers and printers that connect to your network. Do not push any buttons labeled Reset or Restart on any of the devices. That will send the device back to its factory default state, deleting any passwords, custom DNS servers, and settings that you customized.
2. Unplug the modem and the router. It’s possible they could be in one device. If so, just unplug it.
3. Disconnect the cable that connects to your ISP. This will usually be a coax cable.
4. Leave everything disconnected and turned off for two full minutes.
5. Reconnect the cable to the modem. Don’t plug it in yet.
6. Turn on your computer and mobile devices.
7. Plug in the router and wait a minute or two until the lights are steady.
8. If you have a switch connected to your router, turn it back on now.
9. Reconnect the power cord to the modem and wait until all the lights are stable. On most modems, the first three lights (power, receive, and send) will be on, and the fourth light (activity) will flash. If you have an Internet light on the modem, wait until it turns on before proceeding.
10. Turn your devices back on.
11. Access the Internet.
What if it doesn’t work?
If you are sure the issue is from your network, try searching online for the specific problem you are having with your connection and try some of the troubleshooting tips you find.
However, if you complete the entire process precisely as described and are still struggling with the connection, contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and ask for their help. It could be something on their end causing the issue.
As you are completing this reboot, you may also notice that a particular device may be causing the problem. You may need to replace that hardware.
Completing a total reboot of your network will almost always fix any glitches and make connecting to the network more reliable. Some people perform this complete reboot every few months, but it is probably not necessary until you actually have a problem.