It can be very frustrating when your Internet signal drops, especially when it drops intermittently. Many possible causes of dropped Internet signals make it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem. Factors may include hardware failure, interference from other devices, your distance from the exchange, the environment, your network setup and the type of Internet service. In addition, your Internet Service Provider may be experiencing issues.
An obvious first place to troubleshoot when you’re having problems with dropped Internet connections is to examine your hardware. Check whether your modem is functioning properly. Your modem might have a self-test function or lights that indicate that it isn't receiving a signal. You can use the Windows troubleshooter in the Control Panel to check for problems with your hardware devices and Internet connection. Check your hubs, routers and any network wiring for hardware failures.
Internet service comes in many varieties, the most common of which are dial-up, ADSL, cable, fiber optics and satellite. The type of Internet service you use is a major factor to consider when trying to determine why your Internet signal is dropping. If you use dial-up, the problem could be with your telephone company’s network or be due to noise on the line or a low signal in your area. If you use ADSL, the problems are similar as you also are using a telephone line. In addition, the distance from the exchange is a factor. If you use satellite, the problem could be as simple as cloud cover, while wireless connections have many more potential points of failure.
Other common issues are sometimes responsible for dropped Internet signals, especially on wireless networks, such as your computer being too far from the router or access point or a wall blocking your Internet signal. If you’re using connecting to the Internet on a mobile device -- such as a wireless connection on a laptop -- and move out of the range of the router or access point, your signal will drop. If your signal strength is low, use an antenna to boost it and extend the range. You’ll also lose your signal if an electrical fluctuation affects your router or if it is turned off or malfunctions.
Despite your best attempts at troubleshooting the problem, sometimes the reason for your Internet signal dropping is something outside of your control. Interference from other devices such as microwave ovens can block your connection. Your ISP can turn off its servers for routine maintenance or simply disconnect you from the network for reasons that suit its business. You're also at the mercy of natural disasters and environmental conditions that can interfere with your service, so always have a contingency plan in place when you don’t have Internet access.