Why won't my hotspot work? How to troubleshoot your phone's mobile hotspot and provide an internet connection for other devices

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  • If your phone’s hotspot won’t work, there could be a number of different culprits causing the problem.
  • Most issues with a hotspot can be solved by troubleshooting at home – and if you have an Android instead of an iPhone, you have more options to fix the problem.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Picture this: You’re out somewhere and you need to do some work on your laptop, but the Wi-Fi is unbearably slow. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem — your cell phone gets good LTE service, you can just connect your computer to your phone’s mobile hotspot. But you try to connect to it and it won’t work. Why?

This is a question with many possible answers, and many of them also depend on what type of phone you have.

How to troubleshoot a hotspot that won’t work

If your mobile hotspot isn’t working, run through this troubleshooting list to figure out why.

Make sure your phone’s internet connection is working

Go to your phone’s settings app and check to make sure your cellular data is switched on. You should also try to use the internet on your phone to make sure you’re not in an area with slow or bad reception.

Melanie Weir/Business InsiderMake sure to turn your cellular data on by swiping the switch to the right, turning the button green.

You should also check and make sure you haven’t exceeded your cellular data limit for the month — if you’re on a prepaid plan with a limit, your data speeds will be throttled when you pass it, rendering your hotspot essentially useless. To solve this issue, contact your data provider.

Make sure the Wi-Fi of the device you’re trying to connect to is working

If your device won’t connect to your phone, it could actually be a device issue. Try connecting to your phone’s hotspot with another device. If it works, the problem is likely not your phone.

Turn the Wi-Fi on your connecting device on and off and see if that fixes the problem. If not, try restarting your device. If you still have issues, you may need to take it in for repairs.

Melanie Weir/Business InsiderTry turning the Wi-Fi on your connecting device off and on again.

Make sure the password is right

If your hotspot is password protected, look at the password on your phone and make sure you’ve entered the password correctly on the device you’re connecting with — if it’s not, you won’t be able to connect.

If you’re still having trouble, you can also change the password to something that will be easier to enter without mistakes.

Disable battery saver or low power mode

Battery saver mode works by limiting certain non-essential functions on your phone to conserve battery life. This isn’t supposed to include limiting your phone’s ability to connect to a hotspot, but all software gets buggy from time to time. This is an issue that is known to occur, especially on Android.

Try turning battery saver off and see if that fixes the issue.

Melanie Weir/Business InsiderMake sure the low power mode on your device is turned off.

Turn your phone’s Wi-Fi on and off

Speaking of bugs in the system, even though your phone’s Wi-Fi isn’t usually the victim of them, it’s not impossible for that to be the case. If it doesn’t seem to be working, try switching it off and back on again and see if that fixes the issue.

Wi-Fi not working? Pair using Bluetooth or USB

Wi-Fi isn’t the only way to connect devices to your phone’s hotspot. You can also pair your phone and computer using Bluetooth or a USB cable.

To connect to an iPhone’s cellular network via Bluetooth, turn on Bluetooth on your phone, connect to it from your other device, and confirm the connection on your phone.

To connect to an Android via Bluetooth or USB tethering, go to “Settings > Network and Internet > Hotspot and tethering” and toggle the relevant switch to the on position, then connect with your other device.

Melanie Weir/Business InsiderTry using Bluetooth or a USB connection if Wi-Fi won’t work.

Try restarting your phone

Sometimes if your phone is on for too long, especially if several programs are running in the background, your phone can begin processing slower or even experiencing bugs — and it becomes more likely to happen if the battery life is low.

In that case, it’s possible the problems you’re experiencing with your hotspot could easily be simply solved by restarting your phone.

If you have an iPhone, this is about all you can do to fix any hotspot issues you might be having — if none of these troubleshooting options can solve your problem, it may be a bug in a software update, or you might need to take your phone in to be looked at.

More troubleshooting options if you have an Android phone

Roll back your software

Unlike iPhones, Android phones let you roll back software updates if you don’t like them or they don’t work on your phone.

Since it’s possible that your hotspot issues are being caused by a bug in a software update, try going back to the older version of your OS and see if that fixes the issue. If it doesn’t, you can always download the update again.

Disable automatic hotspot switching

With some newer phones, the hotspot will turn itself off if no device is connected to it for a few minutes. This might give you issues if your device goes into sleep mode, or if you leave the room and come back.

If this is your issue, go to “Settings > Network and Internet > Hotspot and tethering > Wi-Fi hotspot > Advanced” and switch the slider for “Turn off hotspot automatically” to the off position.

Melanie Weir/Business InsiderTurn automatic hotspot switching off so that the toggle is no longer blue.

Create a new, open mobile hotspot

While password-protected hotspots are safer because they’re encrypted, that encryption can sometimes lead to issues connecting to a hotspot. Sometimes a hotspot will work better with your device if you just leave it open.

To change your hotspot to an open network, go to “Settings > Network and Internet > Hotspot and tethering > Wi-Fi hotspot” and change the Security setting to “None.”

Melanie Weir/Business InsiderTurn off the security to your hotspot to deal with encryption issues.

As a warning — this does leave you open to other people joining the network and using your cellular data, too. If you’re in a public place, or are concerned about others nearby using your data, this may not be the best option.

Change the frequency band to 2.4GHz

Newer Android phones also come with the ability to change the frequency of the signal you send out to create the hotspot. While a 5GHz band is faster, many devices may not be able to pick it up, meaning you wouldn’t see it listed under possible connections on the device you’re trying to connect to your hotspot.

To switch back to the standard 2.4GHz band, go to “Settings > Network and Internet > Hotspot and tethering > Wi-Fi hotspot.” Tap “AP Band,” then select 2.4GHz from the list.

Melanie Weir/Business InsiderSwitch your frequency band to a lower one.
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