Hotspots have revolutionized our freedom to access the internet when and where we need to. Whether you just got your hotspot or if you got it some time ago, hotspot connection issues like hotspot disconnects or finding your hotspot not working, can really put a damper on your newly found freedom.
Before you try any of the suggestions herein on how to connect hotspot to computers or how to connect hotspot to laptops or, if you have experienced a hotspot authentication error or need to do some hotspot troubleshooting, do the following:
- Check your internet services provider to make sure there is not an internet outage in your area. AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint all offer this information from a link on their coverage map page.
- Make sure all your devices, including the hotspot, have the latest operating system updates. These updates are designed to solve many critical issues including connectivity. Check your device manual and follow the directions for updating the device before trouble shooting hotspot connection issues. It may save you a lot of time.
- Reboot your devices. Computers and other devices will often self-diagnose and repair issues during a reboot.
Understanding Your Laptop’s Connection To A Mobile Internet Hotspot
Hotspot connection issues are as old as hotspots themselves. Your use of the internet depends on two connections, the hotspot connection to the internet, and the connection between your laptop and the hotspot.
The common solution to cellular hotspot internet connections is location. More specifically, your location in relationship to your carrier’s tower. If you find your device WiFi and the hotspot connected but there’s a problem getting connected to the internet, your hotspot is probably not communicating with the tower.
Cellular signals work best with a clear line of sight to the tower. Barriers between the hotspot and the cellular tower can absorb or reflect cellular signals. Trees, buildings and other exterior barriers will impede or otherwise affect the quality of your cellular connection.
The materials that your house is made of can also be a barrier. Wood construction is generally favorable to allowing internet signals to pass through to your hotspot. Metal and concrete are more problematic.
Try moving your hotspot to a window on the side of your house closest to the nearest cell tower. Finding the spot where you get the best signal is found by trial and error. Moving the hotspot as high as you can get it often results in a better signal. If your hotspot has the capability to add an antenna, you may want to add one as well.
If you know you have good line of sight, but the signal is weak, a booster can increase the power of the signal. Antennae and boosters come in a wide range of complexity and price. Consider starting with the least expensive (make sure it is returnable) and work your way up till you find a solution.
I bought a simple window antenna that cost $29 and increased my hotspot signal by 2 bars. A client from New Mexico who is 11 miles from the nearest cell tower spent a little over $270 on an antenna, tower, and signal booster in order to solve his hotspot connection issues. So, find out where your carrier’s tower is located and go from there. Here are a couple of links to a couple of good cell tower location websites:
One of the easiest ways to determine if you have a serious laptop hardware issues is to connect your laptop to an ethernet connection. If the laptop will not connect to an ethernet connection, the modem card and/or driver may be the issue. You will want to fix this before trying to connect with your portable WiFi.
Our original question was about the computer connecting to the hotspot but if you asked, “Why won’t my hotspot connect to my computer”, you are asking the same question.
Your laptop and hotspot communicate via a WiFi connection. The WiFi signal is a radio frequency generated by the WiFi hotspot for laptop and other devices to receive.
WiFi signals are set at 2.4ghz and newer devices and WiFi routers often have a 5Ghz option (this is not the same as 5G cellular technology). While the 5Ghz option can move data faster, the signal is not as resilient as the lower 2.4 frequency. 2.4Ghz travels farther and through things more easily.
While hotspot WiFi ranges can differ greatly, they will typically work over a range of 100-150 feet indoors and around double that outside. If your MacBook or laptop won’t connect to your hotspot or your hotspot keeps disconnecting on the 5Ghz channel, try switching to 2.4Ghz.
Important Hotspot Settings for Connecting to PC or Mac
To open the settings on your hotspot, you will need to open the settings menu. This might be the word “settings.” It could also look like a gear or your hotspot may have a WiFi icon or the word WiFi to click on from the home screen. When in doubt, refer to the user’s manual.
In this menu you will find a setting where you can set your WiFi SSID (the name that will show up when you scan for the WiFi from your laptop) and your WiFi password. If your hotspot has a 5Ghz band, then you will also be able to name and select a password for this.
You may also be able to turn on or off and set an SSID and password for your guest WiFi on some hotspots. You will likely be able to set the number of users for your both of your main and guest WiFi, and some will allow you to create multiple SSIDs.
Another setting you may find in the WiFi section is the range or size of the area the WiFi signal will reach. Set this setting for the largest range when troubleshooting. When you have the WiFi hotspot working and all set up, consider setting the range at the minimum needed as a shorter range will lengthen your battery life.
Known PC Issues and Troubleshooting Tips
If your hotspot keeps disconnecting or your Windows laptop won’t connect to your hotspot it doesn’t mean that things are broken. Connection errors happen with most WiFi devices at one time or another. If you have received a hotspot authentication error, “Not Connected to the internet” messages, your browser windows don’t open correctly, don’t despair. The following steps will reset your WIFI Hotspot connection on your PC /Laptop.
- First, REBOOT your hotspot and laptop and see if it is fixed.
- Left Click on the WiFi icon from the pop-up menu (^ symbol) on Toolbar.
- Left Click on “Network & Internet settings” link below the list of available networks.
- On the menu down the left side of the window, select WIFI by left clicking on it.
- Look below the WIFI Icon and Your Hotspot SSID and Left Click on “Manage known networks”
- Find your hotspot SSID and left click on it and 2 buttons will appear.
- Now click on the “Forget” button.
- Close all the windows and repeat step 2 above (WiFi Icon may have changed to Internet symbol).
- Find your Hotspot SSID on the list that pops up and select it by left clicking on the SSID
- Select “Connect Automatically” and enter the password.
- Your connection should now be reset.
Known Mac Issues and Troubleshooting Tips
If your hotspot keeps disconnecting or you are having other types of hotspot connection issues with a Mac computer or laptop, resetting your connection will usually work. Take these steps to reset this connection:
- First, REBOOT your hotspot and laptop and see if it is fixed.
- Go to the home screen, find the WIFI icon in the upper right corner of screen and click on it.
- Scroll down, find Open Network Preferences, and click on it.
- Click on the WIFI
- Click on your Hotspot WIFI SSID and click the minus sign (-).
- Next, click “Remove” then “Apply”
- Reboot the computer
- Repeat Step 2 and Select “Turn WIFI on” if not already on.
- Select your Hotspot SSID and enter password
- You are now connected.
Hotspots are simple devices to operate and maintain. Fixing hotspot issues, there are more advanced settings that one can utilize to possibly improve your hotspot performance. Familiarize yourself with all the menus and functions of your hotspot. User forums are great places to find tricks and techniques for tweaking hour hotspot performance hotspot troubleshooting tips and tricks. Also don’t forget to read the manual and don’t be afraid to call your tech support for clarification.