Any device that connects to the internet or another network eventually encounters a situation where it becomes disconnected or was never connected in the first place. Wireless connections can drop suddenly and, without warning, a Wi-Fi connection is lost. This can happen for many reasons, from installing or updating a driver or other program to signal interferences and technical glitches.
When to Check Wireless Network Connection Status
Deciding on the right time to check the connection is equally important as knowing how to do it. Check the connection when an error message appears on the screen or to troubleshoot issues with network-connected applications that crash or stop responding. Particularly, if roaming while using a mobile device, movement may cause the network to drop out.
The method for checking your network connection status varies depending on the specific device involved.MoMo Productions / Getty Images
Smartphones show both cellular and Wi-Fi connection status in the Notification bar at the top of the screen. On the right side of the Notification bar, look for the network status icon. If the vertical bars in this icon are greyed out, the signal is weak and this results in a low-quality connection. As the number of bars increases, the signal gets stronger and results in a higher-quality connection. Android phones sometimes incorporate flashing arrows into the network status icon to indicate that data is transferring across the connection.
The Settings app displays details about the connections and initiates disconnects and reconnects. There are also third-party apps that report on wireless connections and issues.
On iPhone and iPad, open the Settings app, go to either the Wi-Fi or Cellular section, and use the settings to disable the connection, restart it, check if it's connected, and verify that there's an IP address on Wi-Fi.
On an Android phone or tablet, open the Settings app and go to Network Connections to manage Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other networks such as mobile network and VPNs.
Desktops and Laptops
Windows, Linux, macOS, and other operating systems contain built-in connection management utilities. The steps to find this particular area of the software is different for every device. For example, in Windows, the Network and Sharing Center displays the status of wired and wireless networks. To go to the list of network connections in Windows, press Windows key+R to open the Run dialog box, then enter the ncpa.cpl command (in Windows XP, enter netsetup.cpl).
In Windows, Linux, macOS, Google Chrome OS, and other operating systems, the status bar (either on the bottom or top of the screen) contains icons that visually represent the connection status.
There are also third-party applications that offer similar features through alternative user interfaces.
The administrator console of a network router captures details of both the router connection to the outside world and the links for any devices on the LAN that are connected to it. Log in to the router to see this information.
If the router can be accessed using a mobile app, go to the main screen of the app to determine if the whole network is down or if specific devices are disconnected. The app may display a notification when the network goes down or is reconnected to the internet after a power outage or other failure.
A router also has LED lights that indicate the connection status for its WAN link and any wired links. Some routers have a single light that goes red when there's a connection issue. If the router is located in a place where it's easy to see the lights, learn how to interpret the colors and flashes to save time and avoid logging in to the router to check the connection status.
Game Consoles, Printers, and Home Appliances
An increasing number of consumer devices feature built-in wireless support intended for use on home networks. Each device requires its own method to set up connections and check the connection status.
The Xbox, PlayStation, and other game consoles offer on-screen Setup and Network graphical menus. Smart TVs also feature similar on-screen menus. Printers provide either text-based menus on the control panel or a remote interface to check the status from a separate computer.
Some home automation devices such as thermostats may also have small screen displays, while others offer lights or buttons. The same small screen is also available on small devices such as smartwatches.