My home Internet connection seems to be unreliable, what should I check?

If you have encountering problems with the reliabilty or performance of your home Internet connection there are a few simple steps you can follow to work out where the problem is before you need to call your service provider.

21 September 2012 Frequently Asked Questions  General Q&A, Working from home

Your ADSL router is typically left switched on 24 hours a day, every day of the year so we would expect that after several years it might well start to become less reliable.

The first thing to check is that all the wires are firmly connected, not stretched or kinked and not trapped under anything.

Next make sure your router isn't too hot - it should be cool or slightly warm to the touch.  It shouldn't be placed on top of or close to a radiator as this will could cause problems.  Move it to somewhere where it has enough space around it to stay cool. 

You should also check your service providers website - typically there will be a service status page that lists current problems but also past problems.  A quick read of that will tell you if there have been problems in your area which may explain the issues you have been having.

If you search for advice on the Internet about connection issues, you will find plenty of people advising you to update the router's "firmware" - it's internal software used to manage your broadband service etc.  Generally if your service has been running without any problems you shouldn't need to do this.  Updating the firmware is usually only needed if your ISP recommends it when they may have made some changes which require an update on your router.  Before updating the firmware, check with your ISP and make a note of your broadband connection details.  Your Router Manaual will explain how to update the firmware.

If you rely heavily on your Internet connection - for example, you may work exclusively from home - it is worth investing in a second router as a backup.  This will also help you identify whether any problems with your Internet service are with the router or with the service provider.  If after swapping to using your backup router the service is reliable again you know what was causing the problem.

Finally, it is useful to keep a small note of when you are having to restart it.  If it is say every 7 days then this may indicate a problem with the service rather than the router.  If there is a definite pattern you should contact your ISP and they should be able to check their systems and see if there is something that would explain the problem.

Corrections or suggestions