Sometimes I just hate Wi-Fi. It seems like no matter how much you know about networking, or how much research the best way to set up a Wi-Fi router, they will continue being unreliable and acting erratic.
I was going through this frustration recently with my home Wi-Fi, and I was about at the point of giving up on it and going wired, when I stumbled across a short post on a forum thread that suggested something that nobody else I found online mentioned… and it worked!
My Wi-Fi Issues
Let me be clear about the issues I was having so you can see if your issues are similar.
- Connected, but intermittently pages not loading
- Frequent, random disconnects
- Network disappears from the list and comes back, but can’t connect.
I know these all sound completely different from each other, but these were all happening, which is why I describe my issues as erratic.
My Background in Networking
Now, keep in mind, I’m the Infrastructure Director at my workplace, I’ve gone through network schooling, and I’ve had a previous job dealing with networking in a data center. I know a bit about networking as I’ve been dealing with it most of my life.
But, when I couldn’t get my own home’s Wi-Fi to work properly, I felt hopeless. All I could do was scour the Internet to search for other people who had the same problem.
Issues with Netgear routers?
What did I find when I searched? A bunch of people that came to the conclusion that Netgear puts out faulty hardware in mass quantities. I’ve dealt with this issue many times and it was always with a Netgear router, so I was about ready to buy into that conclusion and buy another brand router.
But what shopping for a new router, I like to sort by highest average user rating. What did I find near the top? The router I was using. Could it really be a hardware issue if so many other people were using it just fine without issues?
My Congested Network?
There had to be some other explanation. I suspected there was something about my network that was causing the issues. Perhaps, something is overloading the router. This was a valid argument considering the amount of network connected devices I have (Xbox One/360, desktops, HTPCs, phones, tablets, and all of the home automation stuff). It’s very likely that some of my devices are trying to send too much data causing my router to overload.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I stumbled across some guy that had a recommendation of disabling the QoS settings. I went to my QoS settings page in the Netgear router’s admin control panel, and was sad to see that QoS was already disabled, so at first thought, I thought that was a dead end.
But then I noticed that the checkbox above it labeled “Enable WMM (Wi-Fi multimedia) settings” was enabled and so I thought I would try to disable it to see if it would help. Since unchecking that box, my Wi-Fi issues disappeared! My Wi-Fi connection is not steady and reliable!
So what does that setting do anyway? Well according to Netgear,…
WMM maintains the priority of audio, video and voice, over other applications which are less time critical.Using QoS ( Quality of Service ) Wi-Fi Multi-Media (WMM) ensures that the applications that require better throughput and performance,are inserted in queues with higher priority. For example, video and audio applications are given higher priority over applications such as FTP.
In an ideal situation, that sounds like a great setting to have, but it sounds like something on my network was overloading my router with these “priority” connections causing it to throttle everything else down to a stop. Or, maybe there is something faulty about these routers in the way it processes QoS that overload’s the router’s resources.
Thanks, RonnyAdsetts, from the Netgear user forums for leading me there to find the solution to my issues!
I hope this helps those of you who stumbled across this page looking to solve your Wi-Fi issues! However, if you know anything about Wi-Fi, you know there a ton of possible factors that can lead to connectivity issues, so your mileage may vary
Update (Over 2 Years Later)
While the setting in this post did help a bit, it was never perfect. I still ran into intermittent issues.
Finally, all my networking and wifi issues are gone!