iPhone vs. home wifi
October 11, 2016 6:04 PM   Subscribe

My iPhone (and only my iPhone) is having trouble with my home wifi (and only my home wifi). What gives?

For the past month or so, I've been having problems with my iPhone 6 on my home wifi. It appears to be connected, but about half the time, sites and apps that use wifi hang for a really long time and eventually display a "server has stopped responding" error. They will load immediately if I switch to LTE. Occasionally, the top bar of the wifi symbol grays out. iMessages always works but I can't send/receive pictures when it goes out. The wifi on my phone works totally fine when I'm on my work wifi. There were a few days when I was having issues on my laptop too, but it's worked fine since.

I've tried the following without success, more or less in this order (at first I thought that the wifi and not the phone was the problem given the initial laptop issues):
-Rebooting my router and modem
-Leaving my router/modem off for a couple days and turning them back on to reassign the IP address
-Rebooting my phone (standard and hard reboot)
-Updating my iOS from 9 to 10
-Deleting and re-adding the network to my phone
-Restoring the network settings on my phone
-Restoring my router to factory settings
-Calling Comcast to have them run diagnostics and reset things from their end. One of the things they had me do was plug my laptop into the modem for an hour- it didn't work the entire time but worked fine for a bit after I disconnected.
-Getting a new router
-Getting a new modem
-Using a different browser on my phone
-Changing the password for my wifi
-Turning wifi assist on and off again a few times (it was off before this started happening)
-Turning off wifi networking
-Wiping my phone and reinstalling from a backup
-Changing the DNS server to OpenDNS (it *seems* to be happening less frequently since I did this but it might just be wishful thinking)
-Renewing the lease on the IP address

My next steps:
-Testing someone else's phone on my network (I moved to the area a few months back and don't have people around)
-Calling Comcast back

Any other ideas?
posted by quiet coyote to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I know you tried renewing the IP lease, but it still sounds like an IP conflict to me. I had a similar problem were it turned out that the router was always always always assigning my phone the same IP address as another device for no comprehensible reason, and nothing could convince it to do otherwise. Well, nothing except creating a static IP reservation for the iPhone on the router admin page. Now everything works fine again.
posted by rodlymight at 6:34 PM on October 11, 2016


I had a similar problem at my house, but wasn't JUST the phone. Some sites were often trouble on the laptop, too, but the problem there was less acute.

I eventually figured out that if I use a VPN, the problem goes away for both devices, which leads me to think the problem is some kind of traffic shaping or CDN bandwidth issue associated with this area for AT&T Uverse. It's an imperfect solution, but it solved the problem.

Do you have any indication of trouble on laptops on your network?
posted by uberchet at 7:01 PM on October 11, 2016


I was going to suggest changing your router's LAN side DNS to 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 but saw you already tried OpenDNS. I'd still try using Google's DNS servers.
posted by LoveHam at 7:22 PM on October 11, 2016


You arent running an ad blocker by any chance? A lot of sites have become real pricks about blockers, especially on mobile.

There's also that Safari just decides to hang for no apparent reason. Have you tried Chrome or Firefox to see if it's just Safari?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:46 PM on October 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Does the issue only happen at some parts of the house or is it location independent? I wonder if there is strong interference in wifi bands in some parts of your house. It can be from neighbor's wifi or from appliances such as a Microwave oven. If your issue seems location dependent, I'd check if your laptop works on wifi in the same location where the iPhone does not. To check for interference and signal strength, use a wifi site survey software (such as this one) on your laptop.

Also worth checking to make sure that your router is not getting restarted at random times due to heat (I've seen this happen when modems and routers are kept inside unventilated closets).
posted by thewildgreen at 2:31 AM on October 12, 2016


I don't suppose you have an iPad? I have noticed that my iPad causes regular IP address conflicts on my home network; it is most noticeable when my wife and I try to connect our work laptops to the network, which fail to connect until I turn off the wifi on my iPad (they almost instantaneously connect when I disable the iPad). Other devices on the network don't seem to be affected as much (I'm not clear why).

An alternative suggestion would be to go systematically turning off any other devices on your network to see if the problem can be connected to any particular device.
posted by oclipa at 2:40 AM on October 12, 2016


Any other ideas?

Check all of your devices to make sure each one has a unique IP address. Mobile devices frequently screw this up because reasons.
posted by flabdablet at 10:13 AM on October 12, 2016


*The problem happens across browsers on mobile
*I'm not using an ad blocker on mobile, although I do use adblock on my laptop
*I tried the Google DNS server too, should have said that
*I also should have said that I started using Privacy Pro as a VPN on my phone after this started happening, and it didn't make a difference
*Re: interference/overheating- it's a very small apartment and the modem/router are sitting on my entertainment center
*I have no other devices aside from the phone and a laptop

It seems like that leaves the IP issues, which I'll try when I'm home tonight. I did check that before and recall that the laptop's IP was something like XX.XX.XXX while the phone was XX.XX.XXX.01. How different should they be?
posted by quiet coyote at 10:27 AM on October 12, 2016


IP addresses should always appear as four dot-separated numbers. On almost every home network the first three numbers define the address of the network itself, and these should be the same for all devices. The last number defines the device (aka host) address within the network, and should be in the range 1..254 and unique per device.
posted by flabdablet at 11:19 AM on October 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's an iPad app called Fing that can help suss-out network problems/conflicts.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:30 PM on October 12, 2016


I am doubtful of an IP conflict. A router with default settings for DHCP should be able to assign unique IP addresses to devices on the network. Your iPhone and laptop should have unique IP addresses such as 192.168.1.1 and 192.168.1.2 (as noted above by flabdablet, usually only the last digit is different on a local network assigned IP).

An IP conflict could occur if you manually assign static IP on the devices or if the router is specifically set up for static IPs incorrectly, or if you are doing some MAC address cloning in your devices, but by default, DHCP (this is the mechanism that assigns unique IP) should be turned on in the router and in your devices, so it should be working without conflicts. I'd be interested to find out your results of your IP check. Please post the details from this screen of your iPhone:
Settings > Wifi > (click the "i" next to your wifi network) > (post details under "DHCP"). Also post if you have any HTTP proxy enabled in this screen.

In any case, no IP conflict should occur if your iPhone is the only device on your network, so you can test this easily by turning off your laptop and let us know if you still see the issues. I would disable VPN and any HTTP proxy (if you have one enabled) for this test.
posted by thewildgreen at 7:29 AM on October 13, 2016


A router with default settings for DHCP should be able to assign unique IP addresses to devices on the network

Key word there is "should".

I have seen mobile devices - both Android and iOS - get this wrong by hanging onto DHCP-leased IP addresses whose leases were long expired. Most of the bugs here are due to the device's need to put wifi to sleep to save battery life; some are due to roaming between wifi networks and not doing the correct DHCP dance when reconnecting to one they've been connected to before.
posted by flabdablet at 11:43 AM on October 13, 2016


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