Most people who buy a Roku think it’s one of the best inventions ever. However, quite a few Roku users complain about problems keeping the device connected to their home WiFi networks. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to fix these issues.
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Roku WiFi Issues Make It Hard to Enjoy Netflix or Amazon Videos
You may have Roku WiFi issues if the show or movie you’re watching stops, usually with a message such as “connecting” or “transferring.” You might also see a message that says Roku has lost its WiFi connection.
Rebooting the Roku can temporarily resolve the problem, but it keeps coming back. This might happen even if your Roku says it has a strong signal from your WiFi router.
One commonly suggested fix for Roku WiFi problems is to forget the wireless connection and directly connect a LAN cable from the Roku to your home network. Easier said than done for most people!
Maybe your home network equipment (WiFi router, cable or DSL modem, etc.) lives downstairs and your Roku resides in your bedroom upstairs. You probably don’t want to drill a hole in the floor and drop Ethernet cable downstairs, then run the cable across to the network box.
If you’re willing to go this route, though, problem solved. If you’re like the rest of us and need to figure out how to fix your Roku WiFi problems, keep reading.
Time For a New WiFi Router?
If you haven’t replaced your WiFi router for several years, you may want to consider getting a new one. Many older routers were designed before TV streaming became commonplace.
Even if you have a fairly recent WiFi router, your home wireless network probably operates on the 2.4 GHz spectrum, sharing what may be an already crowded WiFi space. Almost all of the WiFi devices in your home, including tablets, smartphones, laptops and cordless phones (the kind you hook up to a landline or VOIP line), squeeze into the WiFi spectrum along with your Roku devices. If you have neighbors nearby, their devices probably grab part of that 2.4 GHz spectrum, too.
You may want to look at replacing your WiFi router with a dual band 2.5/5 GHz model (like the one we recently purchased – the TP-LINK Archer C9 AC1900 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router, 2.4GHz 600Mbps+5Ghz 1300Mbps). It’ll offer more channels and therefore less likelihood of having to fight for bandwidth with other devices on your network and your neighbors’.
Even if you spend over $100 on a new WiFi router, it’s still a lot cheaper than signing up for cable or satellite TV again if you’ve cut the cord but can’t enjoy programming on your Roku due to connectivity problems.
If your Internet drags everywhere (not just on the Roku device), you might consider buying a new cable modem. If you don’t already own your own cable modem, you can knock $10 or so off your monthly Internet service bill by owning your own cable modem.
Other symptoms of a cable modem hardware problem include frequent internet downtime that causes you to restart the modem on a regular basis. We bought the NETGEAR CM500 Cable Modem DOCSIS 3.0, which is certified for Comcast XFINITY, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter & more (CM500-100NAS).
Change the Channel
Wireless networks transmit data over “channels,” and most people don’t change the default channel when setting up a WiFi network. This means that your wireless network and all of the devices connected to it compete with each other, AND all the devices on your neighbors’ networks if they use the same channel, commonly set to 11 by default.
You might not notice this contention in the WiFi spectrum when using laptop computers, tablets and smartphones. You will more likely notice it, however, with a TV streaming device such as a Roku, because of the enormous amount of data the device needs to pull over your home network in order to bring programming to your TV set. Changing the WiFi channel can help with this problem, and it’s fairly easy to do.
First, on your tablet or smartphone, download a WiFi scanner such as WiFi Analytics Tool, which will check to see which channels are the most heavily used and which ones are hardly used at all.
After you’ve used the app to choose a fairly vacant WiFi channel, you need to login to your wireless router to change its settings. You’ll probably do this by going into your Web browser and entering the WiFi router’s IP address. Check your wireless router’s user guide for more information on accessing and changing its settings.
Change the wireless channel to the one you selected from the WiFi analyzer app and be sure to save your changes. Your home’s WiFi devices should automatically reconnect to the network using the new channel within a couple of minutes.
Location, Location, Location
If changing WiFi channels does not help, try keeping other wireless devices (tablets, smartphones and laptops) out of the room when you’re using the Roku. You might even try moving the Roku device slightly, like to the other side of the TV set, making sure you still have a strong WiFi signal in the Roku’s new spot. You could also relocate any cordless phones out of the room, or as far away as possible from the Roku box.
If you own more than one Roku device, try swapping their locations to rule out the Roku device as the problem. There’s a slight possibility that you might have a bad device on your hands. Should you decide you have a bum device, contact Roku tech support through the company’s website for assistance.
Assuming there’s nothing wrong with your Roku device or your Internet connection, replacing your WiFi router with a dual band model like the Archer C9 should resolve your Roku WiFi issues without having to worry about changing channels or relocating your equipment.
Is It the Roku?
If these steps don’t fix your Roku WiFi issues, your Roku device might be the problem. This is especially true if your Roku worked fine for awhile and then suddenly stopped working.
You could try a different power cable such as a TVPower Mini USB Cable for powering a Roku Streaming Stick or a Roku 2 replacement power cable.
For a Roku that’s still under warranty, you can contact Roku support. Roku’s customer service phone number is 888-600-7658. They might send you a replacement unit.
You can pick up a new Roku for as little as $49 if your old Roku has problems and is no longer covered under warranty.
Be sure to check out some of my other Roku articles here.