Troubleshooting Guide: Fixing iPad Wi-Fi Issues

A series of Wi-Fi connectivity disturbances comprise the biggest set of issues afflicting new iPad owners. With Apple largely mum, save a few suggestions that include moving closer to the router and resetting the device, we’ve put together a comprehensive description of the various problems users are experiencing, along with a series of potential fixes. Until Apple issues a software update to rectify the issue (which may or may not be in the works) or issues a definitive statement, these are your best bets for maintaining a robust, consistent iPad Wi-Fi connection.

Note that some of the fixes mentioned below are mix and match. We’ve attempted to correspond each problem with a set of fixes, but certain fixes may work to resolve problems other than the one under which they’re listed. If the fix listed under a particular issue fails to resolve your problem, work through the full list.

The Problems

Dropped Connections and forgotten passwords: The iPad will intermittently drop its Wi-Fi connection, forcing the user to reconnect. In some cases, it will force the user to re-enter his or her password. This problem is especially prominent with the Actiontec routers provided with Verizon FIOS.

Fixes:

Switch DHCP to manual

Tap Settings, then go to the Wi-Fi section. Tap the blue, right-facing arrow next to the Wi-Fi network to which you are currently connected, then tap DHCP. In the HTTP Proxy section, select “Manual.” You don’t need to enter any additional information.

Exit Settings, then check for alleviation of Wi-Fi issues. You may need to restart your router after making this change.

Interestingly, other users have reported that switching to Auto is of benefit (the default setting is “Off”)

Renew DHCP lease. Tap Settings, then Wi-Fi, then tap the blue arrow next to your currently connected Wi-Fi network and select “Renew Lease.”

Turn AirPort off then back on. Tap Settings on your iPad, then select Wi-Fi from the left-hand pane. Slide Wi-Fi off, then back on.

Forget network then rejoin. Tap Settings on your iPad, then select Wi-Fi from the left-hand pane. Choose the network with which you are experiencing difficulty, then select “Forget this network.” Go back to the previous screen and rejoin the network.

Change security and channel. Changing two key settings can dramatically reduce the number of drops with these routers or eliminate the drops altogether. Follow these steps:

  1. Login to your router’s configuration page by opening a browser window and entering the address 192.168.1.1 (you may need to enter the username: admin and password: password1)
  2. Change the channel from automatic to 6
  3. Change the security setting from WEP to WPA
  4. Apply the changes, which will cause your router to reset
  5. Turn your iPad off then back on

Data throughput suddenly stops: In this problem, data will suddenly stop flowing through the iPad’s WiFi connection, even though it appears that the connection is still active (i.e. signal-strength bars are still displayed in the iPad’s upper-left corner). This problem is especially likely to occur during usage of data-intensive applications such as YouTube and Netflix.

Fixes:

Turn off auto-brightness. If it didn’t work for so many users, we wouldn’t believe it ourselves. To do this, tap Settings, then select “Brightness & Wallpaper” from the left-hand pane. Slide the auto-brightness option to off.

Adjust brightness upward. Likewise, this issue can sometimes be resolved by simply adjusting the iPad’s brightness level upward and off the lowest setting. To do this, tap Settings, then select “Brightness & Wallpaper” from the left-hand pane. Slide the brightness bar upward, then wait 1-2 minutes and check for an improvement in signal strength. Speculation holds that a power delivery issue associated with the screen brightness affects Wi-Fi.

Will not reconnect to network after sleep (i.e. forgets the network): In this problem, the iPad does not automatically reconnect to a previously connected WiFi network when it wakes from sleep, forcing the user to open Settings a reselect the network. Exhibiting proper behavior, the iPad would rejoin the network with no user intervention.

Fixes:

Adjust brightness. Still odd, but remarkably effective. See instructions above under “Data throughput suddenly stops.”

Bring up power off screen, but don’t power off. Another odd workaround: when your iPad forgets a network and prompts for the password, instead of entering the key, press sleep/wake/power button until the iPad shows “Slide to power off,” then press cancel. This may cause the iPad to automatically reconnect to the network.

Weak signal/slow data transfer: This is the most common problem afflicting iPad owners, but also the one with the largest number of potential causes and therefore the largest list of potential fixes. In this problem, users report fast connection and throughput from Macs, PCs, iPhones and other devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network, but significantly degraded speeds and/or fluctuating signal strength on the iPad.

Fixes:

Reset network settings on iPad. On your iPad, open Settings, then navigate to “General” in the left-hand pane. Scroll down and tap Reset, then select “Reset Network Settings.” This will delete any stored WiFi passwords and other information, but may result in a more stable connection.

Adjust brightness upward. Yup; still odd, still effective. See instructions above under Data throughput suddenly stops.”

Change thresholds in router settings. Access your routers configuration screen (for most routers, open a browser and enter the address 192.168.1.1), then change the fragmentation threshold and the CTS/RTS threshold as described here. Some users have found success with the settings Fragmentation= 2048, RTS = 512.

Change 802.11 spec on router. Try changing your router’s wireless spec mode from B, G and N to G only or vice versa. For AirPort routers, this can be accomplished with the AirPort Admin Utility. For other routers, this can usually be accomplished by accessing the router’s configuration page — open a browser and enter the address 192.168.1.1.

Switch routers. Although a far-from-ideal solution, some users have found success with switching to a different wireless router.

Turn off “Ask to Join Networks.” To do so, tap Settings on your iPad, then select “Wi-Fi” from the left-hand pane. Slide “Ask to Join Networks” to off. Speculation holds that leaving this option on causes the iPad to constantly seek networks, resulting in some type of interference with the network to which it is connected.

Forget network then rejoin. Tap Settings on your iPad, then select Wi-Fi from the left-hand pane. Choose the network with which you are experiencing difficulty, then select “Forget this network.” Go back to the previous screen and rejoin the network.

Turn off Bluetooth. Some users report that, perhaps due to interference issues, turning off Bluetooth can boost Wi-Fi signal strength. To do so, tap Settings then tap General in the left-hand pane. Tap Bluetooth in the right-hand pane, then slide to off.

Comments

  1. says

    My iPad was having the same problems reconnecting after sleep. I think it was struggling with DHCP ip address conflicts. I know that my router (Linksys WRT54ag) allocates addresses between 192.168.1.100 through 192.168.1.149, and that I typically only use the first 10 to 15 of these with all the various networked devices in my house. I didn’t want to make any changes to my router (this is clearly Apple’s problem — all of my many other wireless devices work fine and have for years). I simply set a static ip address on my iPad of 192.168.1.145. Of course subnet mask set to 255.255.0.0, with the gateway and DNS servers at 192.168.1.1. I know it would be better to set a static ip outside the DHCP range, but again, I didn’t want to screw with the router. I was having constant issues before. Since assigning a static ip inside (and at the high end of) the dhcp range, I’ve had no trouble whatsoever.

  2. says

    Hi, my iPad cannot connect to YouTube or other vidéo website using wifi with proxy (university web access). Do you identified this issue? (my mac could connect to YouTube using this connection) thanks.

  3. says

    Connecting iPAD to Netgear Router with WPA encryption. Found that using an encryption key with some non-alphanumeric characters in it causes the iPAD to report “incorrect password”. Haven’t honed it down to which ones are the problem yet, but constructed a key from simple lower case text and it connected instantly.

    Things like ^%*(£ may cause the problems. So if you experience issues try stripping these out first to a basic key and go from there.

  4. says

    I had iPad connectivity issues but only at home; worked perfectly at office or other WiFi site, so it wasn’t the iPad. I am using a Linksys router at home and found these settings to solve all of my WiFi woes when all of the above didn’t work.
    1. Upgrade router firmware to latest version.

    2. Use WPA2 – do not let the access point use WPA/WPA2 setting or Automatic. You must use WPA2 and your other WiFi devices need to migrate over to WPA2 as well.

    3. Do not use the automatic Linksys feature in the newer routers. Manually configure these settings.

    4. If you still drop off, then change your standard to 802.11n. Only use the n standard as it should be backwards compatible with all b/g standards. My default setting was “Mixed”. See dual band note below.

    5. Still having problems? If you are in a congested area, a.k.a. an apartment complex, then there is a good chance that the default channel the access point is using is the same one as your neighbors. Manually change the channel. This is a trial and error approach unless you want to dish out some cash for a WiFi analyzer. Not worth it though. Simple solution, start at the bottom of the channel list and work upwards. Most likely nobody has changed the default settings on their access points and even if they do, they probably are using the second or third channels.

    Note: Some newer Linksys WiFi routers have dual band functionality (5 GHz and 2.4 GHz). If you do, set both to 802.11n. Trust me on this one, all cell phones, wireless landline phones and just about any other household wireless device (except for your TV remotes) are 2.4 GHz. That frequency is practically jammed in an apartment complex. By setting both bands to 802.11n I practically tripled my download speed and had a stable connection. 802.11n is supported on both bands. 802.11a was the original standard on 5 GHz (which is faster a bit more expensive), then b/g came along on 2.4 GHz for typical home consumers.

  5. says

    I went through about an hour of checking various things, couldn’t find half of what the solutions were talking about. Finally turned the wireless connection on the iPad OFF and then ON again in the Settings, and voila! wireless connection works!

  6. says

    I bought my Ipad a week ago – November 5. I experienced the same trouble as everyone else with YouTube taking forever to play videos. I tried every possible solution mentioned here and elsewhere without any luck for practically 2 straight days. Every once in awhile , it would work and I would think I found the solution only to have the problem come back again. Before returning the Ipad to Apple for my money back, I figured I would go upgrade my wireless router – I had nothing to lose and it was an old router anyway (Linksys 2.4GH wireless B). I purchased a Linksys 5GH E3000 and within 15 minutes of coming home with the E3000, everything was set up and the IPad was working flawlessly – as fast as the other computers at home. What a relief ! I don’t know if it’s the speed, better router, different security settings (now WPA instead of WEP) but it works great! I do have my DNS settings at 208.67.222.222, 208.67.220.220 but i’m not sure that makes any difference. I’m done playing with the settings for now and I am just enjoying playing around with the now functioning IPad.

  7. says

    For me worked something entirely different. Although I use
    my wifi router only as access point (nothing on WAN port), when I
    changed WAN port configuration to Dynamic IP Address it finally
    worked. Previously I had Static Address. I can’t explain why but it
    was an issue in my case.

  8. says

    Mike D captured my frustration exactly – could not access
    YouTube except sporadically; tried all the solutions on this
    thread, nothing worked. I too was ready to return iPad but decided
    to go with a new router – why not – mine was 4 years old anyway.
    Sure enough, installed Linksys E3000 and nothing but happy days and
    streaming YouTube. Thanks all.

  9. says

    I simply wanted to type a small remark to be able to express gratitude to you for those superb suggestions you are showing on this website. My time intensive internet search has finally been recognized with beneficial facts and strategies to go over wi…

  10. says

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  11. says

    Some very useful stuff here. Have been struggling with sluggish wifi on a new iPad 2.
    Some of the suggestions I wasn’t able to do with my wireless router (Belkin N Wireless Router) – but the thing that did seem to have the most effect was changing the ‘Bandwidth setting’
    It was 20MHz by default and changing it to 20MHz+40MHz Auto made a lot of difference. Hope someone finds that useful.
    Thanks for the post!

  12. Chuck says

    My issue involves a Cradlepoint MBR900 and a 16GB iPad. Connecting wirelessly works great . . . until it stops. After weeks of no problem, suddenly the iPad seems to saying “Wireless? What wireless? I don’t see no stinkin’ wireless . . .” This is the second time it’s happened. The first time I received instructions for a ‘factory reset’ that apparently worked after multiple attempts. All was well for several weeks, then one evening . . . no wireless network available again. Reset instructions have not worked so far . . . The MBR900 indicator lights light up just fine. Nothing different from when it does work.

    Any advice?

    Thanks!

  13. Navneet Aulakh says

    My iPad has very slow YouTube, but a few days ago, it was fine, I have tried everythng! I’m on it right now haha, I have a netgear wndr3300 wireless n router, if ny1 could help, that would be great

  14. Richard says

    I just load the desktop site of YouTube on safari on iPad and it buffers at normal speed, just like on any computer. It’s kind of disappointing ’cause the YouTube app was meant to work properly

  15. says

    I’ve been plagued with slow YouTube performance on my iPad for years, and I thought it was due to my ISP. However, I recently switched from AT&T to Comcast and the problems persists. I’m still having trouble with YouTube stopping while playing. Works fine on my desktop systems, but the iPad (first gen) is still obnoxious. I’ve tried the DNS, network, and brightness fixes, but to no avail. I kind of think that it’s not a priority for Google to fix since they don’t get any ad revenue from iOS devices watching YouTube. I’m sure they’ll have a ad-supported version out eventually which will make our problems magically disappear, but sheesh… 3 years and still having the same problem? Come on, Google/Apple!

  16. Ale_v85 says

    I just bought a 4G ipad 3, but I have no internet plan. So I tried to connect to me home network without luck. I tried everything. What can I do other than getting a new router?

  17. Chris says

    I’ll necro this thread from the dead to say that the _very first comment_ is the one that finally fixed it for my Touch 5G. Ever since I purchased it, I’ve had absolutely lousy wireless streaming of videos. It would play for five seconds, pause for 15, play for three seconds, pause for three, etc. This was on all manner of sites. Speedtest.net was showing download speeds of close to my ISP’s rating. Regular Web surfing, music listening, game playing- all were fine. The video streaming was the only problem experienced.

    I went into the settings, set a static IP for the iPod as described by Heath from _three years ago_ and the device is streaming non-stop. I’m glad I visited this site- thank you!

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