Alexa Not Responding? 12 Fixes for Common Echo Problems

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Smart home devices are supposed to make our lives more convenient. When your virtual assistant doesn’t understand you, it quickly switches from helpful to frustrating.

Is your Alexa not responding to commands? Don’t hit the reset button just yet!

These quick fixes and diagnostic steps will help you diagnose and fix common issues with Echo devices. Let’s see if we can get you back to your regularly scheduled life faster than you can say “Alexa, I’ve had enough of your malarkey”.

Quick Amazon Echo Fixes

These are the most general—and quickest— fixes for when your Alexa is not responding. I’ve ordered them from easiest to hardest, so just try them until you find one that works.

Restart Alexa

This fix is incredibly quick and easy, and there’s no downside to trying it.

  1. Unplug your Alexa. If it has batteries, remove those, too.
  2. Wait 10 seconds.
  3. Plug it back in.

Reset your router and modem

A typical wi-fi router

Make sure no one else is on your home network first, as this will shut off your internet for as much as five minutes.

  1. Unplug your router and modem. If they have batteries, remove those, too.
  2. Wait 30 seconds.
  3. Plug them both back in.
  4. Wait up to five minutes for your Wi-Fi connection to come back online.

Update your router firmware

Old router firmware sometimes causes problems with your Wi-Fi network. You should be keeping your router’s firmware updated for security reasons anyway.

The specific steps will depend on the make and model of your router, so follow the guide here.

Make sure Alexa can hear you

The Alexa app keeps a history of every voice command your devices have heard. You can check these records to determine whether your Echo heard you at all and whether it understood you correctly.

To check your history:

  1. Open the Alexa app.
  2. Navigate to More->Activity->’Voice History’.
  3. If you have multiple Alexa devices, use the dropdown by Displaying to limit the history to only the Echo you are having problems with.
An example of Alexa voice history

If you don’t see any commands at all, you’ll have to try other fixes below. However, when Alexa doesn’t understand you properly it sometimes just ignores the command.

If you see voice history entries for the commands you issued but they are wrong or just say “Audio could not be understood”, you should try again while standing closer to the Echo and speaking as clearly as possible.

Alexa is getting better at understanding, so this problem is becoming less common over time. However, you can address it for now by moving Echo into a more open location, eliminating background noise (including music playing from Alexa itself), and speaking loudly and clearly to it. 

You should also make sure that each Echo user has their own voice profile, which can help Alexa to identify and understand their speech.

Try a new wake word

When you have multiple Alexa devices, they can get confused. Your best bet, in that case, is to ensure that each device has its own unique wake word.

There are a total of five wake words currently available. If you have more than five devices, just make sure that each device has a different wake word than its nearest neighbors.

To change the wake word:

  1. Open the Alexa app.
  2. Go to Devices->’Echo & Alexa’.
  3. Select your device from the list.
  4. Press the gear icon in the top right to open Settings.
  5. Click Wake Word.
  6. Select whichever wake word you want to use.
The Alexa app wake word selection screen

Factory reset Alexa

This is the most drastic step we’ll take without spending additional money. Before you start, make sure that you have the setup instructions for your Echo device handy, including how to connect Alexa to Wi-Fi.

Factory resetting will not impact your general settings, but it will erase any device settings or device history. I do recommend saving this for use as a last resort.

  1. Open the Alexa app.
  2. Go to Devices->’Echo & Alexa’.
  3. Select your device from the list.
  4. Press the gear icon in the top right to open Settings.
  5. Click either Factory Reset or Deregister near the bottom of the menu. These do the same thing, but the exact wording varies depending on the model and generation of your device.
The Alexa app device settings screen, highlighting the deregister option
  1. Run the same steps you did the first time you set up your Alexa device.

Upgrade your router

Router technology updates quickly, so if you bought it more than 3–4 years ago, it’s probably time to consider an upgrade for speed, reliability, and security. This is especially true if you are starting to run a lot of Wi-Fi devices like smart speakers and smart hubs.

If you’re using the router supplied by your internet provider, you should definitely ditch it for a better model.

Most people can get away with a budget option like the TP-Link AX1800 Smart Wi-Fi Router. If you’re planning a lot of smart home items, though, you may want to consider the TP-Link AX6600 Router instead.

Common Echo Hardware Problems

Microphone muted

What causes it

Every Echo device has a mute button (also called a microphone button), and it’s pretty easy to press them without trying. 

How to detect it

The red light you'll see when your echo is muted

A muted Echo will show a constant red ring of light. The mute button will also glow red.

How to fix it 

Just press the mute button. The red light should go away immediately.

Loose cables

What causes it

It’s pretty easy for your Alexa’s cord to come loose when you are moving the device around or if you accidentally tug on the cable. A slightly loose cord can cause intermittent problems that look a lot like a lot of the other issues we’ve discussed.

How to detect it

Don’t bother with detection. A slightly loose cord feels exactly like a snug cord. If the power adapter was completely loose, you’ll see it light up when you plug it in.

How to fix it 

Just push the cord snugly into the Echo’s power jack. Then, try the commands again to see if it works better now.

Alexa Wi-Fi Issues

When the problem isn’t with the Alexa-enabled device itself, usually your Wi-Fi is to blame. Every command Echo hears has to be sent to the cloud for processing, so a poor internet connection can render your Amazon device largely useless.

Dropped or slow Wi-Fi connection

What causes it

Slow Wi-Fi is a pretty broad problem. I’ll cover some specific Wi-Fi issues next, but the truth is that most Wi-Fi issues are not worth lengthy debugging. We’ll try a couple of general fixes first since these will fix most of your Wi-Fi woes.

Here are a few examples of the problems we’ll be broadly addressing here:

  • Issues with your router or modem (or gateway)
  • A slow internet connection.
  • Too many simultaneous devices on your network

How to detect it

A dropped connection will result in a pulsing purple light, and Alexa will tell you she is having trouble connecting when you issue a command. In some cases, you may also see a spinning orange light (Wi-Fi trying to connect) or a pulsing red light (general connection issue). These are all usually due to dropped Wi-Fi connections.

A slow connection will result in a longer than usual command processing time (spinning blue light) which may result in your commands failing.

I’m grouping these two together because they have many of the same causes, and a slow connection will often drop periodically.

How to fix it

This one is going to require some debugging and a bit of trial and error.

  1. Try restarting your router, modem, and Alexa. You’d be amazed how many problems that solves. If you need to know how to restart these devices, I included directions in the general Amazon Echo fixes section above.
  2. Check your internet speed on speedtest.net. You need an upload and download speed of at least 0.5 Mbps for Alexa to work at all. Realistically, though, you need speeds a lot faster than that. Check the ping, too, as that should be no more than about 100 ms (Alexa times out after about 8 seconds).
    Try testing the speeds when your internet is at its fastest, record those numbers, and compare them to the speeds when your Alexa is having problems. If your internet speed is always slow, you may want to consider a faster plan or running fewer devices on your network.
  3. Update your router firmware. 
  4. Consider upgrading your router. 

If the restart didn’t fix the issue (or it keeps coming back), your internet speed is fine, and your router is new and up-to-date, it’s time to try some more specific fixes.

Wi-Fi signal interference

What causes it

There are two types of interference that can impact the strength and reliability of your Wi-Fi signal.

  • Electronic interference from other Wi-Fi signals, microwaves, baby monitors, and other electronics.
  • Physical objects between your router and your Echo. External walls are particularly problematic, but even a bookcase or cardboard box will have an impact.

How to detect it

Move your Echo closer to the router and see if the problems go away. If they do, the issue is either distance or interference. Try the fixes below for interference, and I’ll cover connection issues from distance in the next step.

How to fix it

Your router should always be out in the open with the antenna facing up. Try to eliminate any objects that stand between your router and the devices it connects to. Definitely ensure that your router isn’t hidden under a table or behind furniture.

You can also move your router to a central location in your home. That way, even devices in other rooms will have fewer walls blocking the signal.

For electronic interference, your best option is to look for an open Wi-Fi channel. You can find a great guide for that here. The process is largely automatic, and there is no real downside to using a less crowded channel.

Echo too far from router

What causes it

Even once you eliminate interference issues, every router still has a limited range. Newer router tech can reach further, but there’s always a limit.

The bigger your home, the more likely you are to expand beyond the capability of your router. If you are trying to set up Echo devices in your yard, distance is almost certainly going to be a factor.

How to detect it

In the last subsection, you should have already tried moving your Echo closer to the router.

If your smart home devices seem to be working by your router but not in other rooms, your problem is probably how far your router is from your Echo. That is, assuming you already fixed any signal interference issues.

How to fix it

There isn’t a great way to increase the distance of your router. If your router is getting old, this might be a good time to look at the newer routers I suggested in the quick fixes section.

Even the best regular Wi-Fi router can’t keep an active internet connection for devices in a large home, though. If you need good Wi-Fi signals across all the rooms in your house or in your yard, it’s probably time to consider a Wi-Fi mesh network.

My suggestion is to check out the Google Nest Mesh Wi-Fi System. It’s easy to set up and highly modular, making it is the simplest solution for Echo users with spotty Wi-Fi far from their normal router.

What’s Next?

These basic troubleshooting steps should fix most Alexa connection issues. If your Alexa is not responding even after these fixes, it might be an issue with the device itself. In that case, you should contact Amazon support, especially if your Alexa device is still under warranty.

If you’re waiting for your Wi-Fi to come back online, remember that you can still use Alexa as a Bluetooth speaker, even without a Wi-Fi connection!

Let me know if you found a fix that I didn’t cover. There’s always room for one more geek in the Smart Geek Home.

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