Public trust is a vital condition for artificial intelligence to be used productively – Mark Walport
Alexa might not be the droid that the Empire was looking for, and “she” certainly isn’t going to bring humanity to its knees by suddenly attempting to take over the world.
But if you’ve got her installed in your home, you’ll know just how indispensable she can be, and how much you rely on her to do your bidding.
And, if you’ve ever heard Alexa say “The requested device is unresponsive”, you’ll know how frustrating and annoying trying to figure out, and fix whatever the problem she’s encountered can be.
That’s why we’ve put this simple, straightforward troubleshooting guide together, to help you to isolate, find and fix the problem if Alexa can’t.
You’ll never have to worry about hearing those dreaded words again or give in to the overpowering sense of desperation that they can fuel if you just take a deep breath and follow our step-by-step guide to getting your smart devices and Alexa up and running again.
Are you ready? Good, then let’s get started…
Connectivity is always the first thing that you should check whenever you encounter any problems with or run into a technological brick wall with Alexa. Make sure that your router is on, that the signal is stable and strong and that the device in question is actually still connected to your home network.
If the device in question isn’t connected to your network or has dropped for some reason, try rebooting (switching it off and on again) your router and the device should hop back on to the network as soon as your router is back in action.
It’s also worth finding out if someone in your household has decided to change the WiFi password (it happens every now and then), and if they have, find out what the new code is and use it to update all of the smart devices in your home.
Is It Switched On?
It sounds obvious, and we know that you probably checked the device to make sure that it was switched on before you started reading, but it’s always worth double-checking just to make sure that the device Alexa is trying to access is actually plugged in and switched on.
Just because you didn’t turn it off, it doesn’t mean that someone else in your household didn’t, and sometimes the most annoying problems can be fixed with the simplest solutions. After all, if the device isn’t actually on, it won’t be connected to your network and Alexa can’t control it.
So instead of panicking, take a look to see whether the device is actually plugged in and switched on before you start worrying that it could be something more serious.
Check The App
Everything in a smart home and all of the devices that are connected to Alexa, as we’re sure you already know, can be controlled by an app.
Open the app for the device and check to see whether or not you can actually control it or it’s responsive, and if it isn’t, try deleting the device from the app and reinstalling it and see if that works.
If it doesn’t work (and it usually will), you might have to get Alexa involved, and again don’t worry, as it’s easier to do than it sounds.
You’re going to have to uninstall and reinstall the device in Alexa’s skills, the function that the AI uses to control smart devices via voice commands. Open the Alexa app, locate the tab marked “Skills And Games”, open that and you’ll see another tab called “Your Skills”.
After you’ve found the skill (the device) that you’re looking for, click “Disable”, and then make sure that the device is no longer registered as being active on Alexa.
Having uninstalled and disabled the device on Alexa, you’re going to need to reinstall it and add it to your network again. Reboot the device and your router (turn them off and on again), and when they’re both up and running, reinstall and add the device to Alexa again.
If this doesn’t work, it’s time to look at Alexa a little more closely and see if the problem actually lies with her.
It’s All About The Skills
Alexa and smart devices, just like people can sometimes throw unexpected and weird hissy fits and either Alexa or the device in question can, and will drop off the network for a reason known only to itself and the often unfathomable vagaries of the internet.
In other words, check to see whether or not the device is still connected to Alexa.
Open the Alexa app, look for “Skills And Games”, find “Your Skills” and check that the device is still listed in there. If it isn’t, add it again, and to ensure that it’s working use Alexa to control it by repeating your initial inquiry. It should be back online and part of your network again.
If the device is listed in Alexa’s skills settings, it’s probably an app interface issue, which sounds far more complicated than it actually is, and is incredibly straightforward and easy to fix.
Disable the device in Alexa, and then switch it off, unplug it, plug it back in, switch it on again and add the device to Alexa’s skills again. It’s basically a reboot, but it should repair and remedy any “communication” problems that the device and Alexa might have been having.
Back To The Beginning
If you’ve tried every step and nothing seems to be working, then whatever the problem is, might be caused by the manufacturer app.
Technology is, at best, temperamental, and if the manufacturer’s app is the root cause of the problem, it’s time to go back to the beginning and uninstall and reinstall the app that controls the device.
It’s easy to do, you can either remove it by holding the app down until it asks if you want to remove it, or by deleting it from your list of apps and or in settings.
And to reinstall it, you just need to return to wherever it was you originally downloaded and installed it from, and download and install it again. Once the newest version of the app is in place, reconnect your device to it and you should be able to control it via Alexa again.
Updating The Operating Software
All smart devices connect to your home network, the apps that control them, and Alexa through their “Firmware” or the software that they depend on to operate and run, and occasionally to keep up with the modern world, their firmware needs to be updated by the manufacturer.
Most of the time, these updates happen and are installed automatically and you won’t be aware of or know anything about it and your device will just keep on running the same way it always has.
However, again for reasons known only to themselves and their designers, some devices won’t automatically update their firmware as and when their manufacturers release patches and updates, so it’s always prudent to check the manufacturer’s website (and when you do make sure that you have the model and the serial number of your device to hand) to see whether or not you have to download and install an update for your device.
As we’ve already said, it shouldn’t happen as your device should update itself automatically if it’s connected to the internet, but sometimes you might need to give a device an updating helping hand and do it yourself.
Using The Power Cycle
Even though it sounds like something out of a Science Fiction film, power cycling is a simple and effective tool that a lot of technicians and engineers who work in Information Technology like to employ.
It’s a little more involved than the “standard” turning it off and on again and is designed to ensure that all of the power that a device depends on to function has been completely drained from it and that the device will be starting “from cold” when it’s switched on again.
And despite its technical-sounding name, it’s actually really easy to do. All you need to do is turn your device off, and unplug it.
Most tech-savvy people recommend that you don’t plug a device back in and switch it on for at least a minute, but we’ve always found that the longer you leave a device unplugged, the more responsive it is when you switch it back on.
It’s why we’d recommend that you wait a little longer and should leave whatever the device is unplugged for at least five minutes before plugging it back in and switching it on again.
That way you’ll be sure that all of the power has been drained from it, and that the “forced and unexpected reboot” is more likely to be successful, and should bring the device back under Alexa’s control.
The Last Resort
If nothing else has worked (and trust us, in all likelihood one of the steps on this list should place the device that you’re troubleshooting back under Alexa’s control) and you’re still stumped and looking for a solution, you can always try the method of last resort, the factory reset.
It’s known as the last resort because it wipes everything and returns all of the device’s settings to the way they were when it rolled off the factory floor.
Any preferences that have been programmed into it will be lost, and you’ll essentially have to start from scratch again.
Having said that, as much of a pain as it is, a factory reset does mean that you won’t have to worry about scrambling down the back of the sofa to find the necessary funds to replace your smart device.
Every device is different, and in order to find out how to implement a factory reset, you’ll either have to consult the owner’s manual or look it up online.
Once you know and you’ve done it, you’ll just need to reconnect the device to your network and Alexa, and everything should return to the way it was before Alexa uttered the phrase that originally sent you headlong down this path.
Bring Alexa And Your Device Back Online – The Last Word
Remember, the most important thing to do is not panic. The solution is almost always simple and whatever the device is should be up and running, and back under Alexa’s control again in a matter of minutes as long as you follow our step-by-step guide.