We know how frustrating the internet in China can be - whether it's an urgent video call or even just getting your email to work, the internet connection always seems to slow when you need it most. Look no further than your telecom closet for the most likely culprit - the ISP modem. This mass-produced device has troubled internet users not just in China, but all around the world. Fortunately, giving this device a quick restart can fix -- and prevent -- most minor connection problems in China.
How to reboot your modem in three easy steps
1. Unplug the power cord from the modem
2. Wait 10 seconds,
3. Plug the power cord back into the modem
That's it! It can take 3-5 minutes before internet connection is re-established
Important: A modem is different than a wifi router
NOTE: Don't confuse a modem with a wifi router! Here's where it can be confusing - many Internet Service Providers (ISPs like China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom) provide a free piece of equipment that combines modem features with wifi capabilities. It's usually stored in a telecom closet or hallway. See photo above to confirm!
Important: A restart is different than a factory reset.
A modem restart/reboot is different than a factory reset. Restarting a modem is unplugging / replugging the power cable. A factory reset restores your equipment to its original default settings, usually involving a small object to hold in the Reset button, such as a paper clip or pin.
Why do you need to reboot your modem?
Electronics are not built to constantly be running at all times, and power cycling (a fancy way of saying unplugging the power cord) helps with most issues. Like other electronics, when you leave your modem on for too long, it will tend to stop performing at its best after a while. Rebooting your modem can fix Internet connection problems, improve slow moving connections and resolve wireless issues, especially in China. By unplugging the power cord from the back of the modem, you are giving it the breather it needs.
Another reason is that when your modem is on all day, every day, it is slowly desynchronizing from the Internet Service Provider (ISP). This desynchronization causes the packets you are sending and receiving to become corrupt, requiring them to be resent, and thus, lowering your speed.
Try unplugging your modem on a monthly basis to stay proactive. This will not cause any harm to your electronics as it is simply a way of rebooting the system. As your modem ages and becomes outdated, you may find more frequent restarts are needed - even once a week or multiple times a day is not unheard of!
What causes modems to crash in the first place?
As with any piece of hardware, there are all sorts of potential reasons your modem might crash and require a restart. Here are a few potential reasons:
- Run-of-the-mill crashes. As a computer, your router can crash because of bugs in the firmware eating up too much memory or causing a kernel panic.
- IP Address conflicts. Your modem manages both private and public IP address, and sometimes it messes up. If two devices on your network have the same IP address, or if your router doesn’t have an up-to-date public IP address, your connection might break. Restarting the router resets these IP assignments so things can s tart working again.
- Overheating. Like any computer, your modem can overheat—especially if you keep it in an enclosed space to hide it from view—causing it to crash.
There are more potential reasons, but these are the most common.
Do You Really Need to Wait 10 Seconds?
Why do you need to unplug for 10 or 30 seconds? Well, have you ever unplugged a gadget only to see the power indicator light stay on for a few seconds? There’s a reason that happens, and it’s connected to our answer - Most electronics make liberal use of capacitors, which are basically tiny batteries. You’ve seen these before if you’ve ever taken apart a computer or gadget.
They don’t store a lot of energy, but can at times have just enough to keep a memory chip running for a few seconds. Waiting 10 seconds ensures that every capacitor is fully drained, and thus every bit of memory is cleared. This ensures that all the settings on your router are actually reset, including anything that might have caused the crash in the first place.
As we’ve established, there are multiple reasons your router might need to be reset. Not all of these problems will require a 10 second discharge, which is why some problems can be solved without the wait. If you’re troubleshooting a new problem, however, the 10 second wait might be the difference between working and not working.
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