The internet is something most people rely on every single day, yet internet connections can be very unreliable and frustrating to an uninformed user. Nearly anything from a power outage to a light storm can cause you to lose your connection and it can sometimes take hours to get it back if the right steps aren't taken to diagnose and remedy the problem. This guide will take you through some basic actions any user can take to test and repair most problems with their connection.
Step 1: Resetting Your Modem
Most home connections today use some sort of a broadband modem to connect to the internet. There are a number of issues that can be present with modems. To ensure that your problem is not related to your modem, go through the following steps:
1. Look to see which lights are lit up on your modem. There are many different varieties out there, but most will at least have at least four green lights labeled send, receive, online, and PC activity or something similar.
2. If two or more of these are off or repeatedly flashing on and off, reset your modem. Some will have a reset button present on the top or back while others will need to be unplugged and left off for a few seconds, then plugged back in.
3. Wait to see which lights come back on when the modem resets.
Based on what lights come back on, decide your next course of action:
A) If multiple lights are still missing, particularly the send, receive and internet lights, the problem may be an outage in your area or a problem with your Internet Service Provider. Go to step six to see your options for dealing with that issue.
B) If all lights but the ethernet/PC Activity light are on, the problem may be your ethernet cord. Step four covers how to see if that is your problem.
C) If all of the lights come on, check to see if your problem is fixed by attempting to view a web page on your computer. Proceed to the next step if you are still unable to connect.
Step 2: Resetting Your Router
Many internet connections are run through a router and they often need to be reset from time to time or they can become difficult and unreliable. If you are not using a router, proceed to the next step. To reset your router and attempt to fix the problem, follow these guidelines:
1. Unplug the router and wait a few seconds before plugging it back in. Wait for the lights on the front to become stable before continuing.
2. In many cases, the problem will already be fixed at this point. Test the connection again.
3. If the problem persists, you will need to access the router settings. To pull up the settings for your router, you will need to enter the local IP address of your network into the address bar of your web browser. It will often be "192.168.0.1" or "192.168.1.1" and will almost certainly start with "192.168" in all cases. The default IP and password should be found in the documentation that came with your router.
3. If you still can't access the settings you can find your local IP by going into the "Network Connections" window from the start menu, right clicking on the wireless connection, selecting "Status" and clicking on details. It should be shown as the IPv4 default gateway.
4. Navigate to the tab that shows the current status of the router. It should be displaying a number of different IP addresses and domain names.
5. Click on the "release" button and the numbers should all be reset to zeroes. Wait at least 10 seconds and then click the "renew" button. Keep clicking it at regular intervals for 30 seconds or so if no new numbers pop up.
At this point you have several options depending on what is happening:
A) If the status tab is showing new addresses after clicking the "renew" button, your router has been reset and is once again connected to the internet. Test your computer once again and see if the problem has been fixed. If not proceed to step three.
B) If the status tab is still showing zeroes and is not updating when the "renew" button is pressed, your router cannot connect to the internet. Go back to step one if you have not yet done so. If you have already completed step one, go to step four.
Step 3: Troubleshooting Your Computer
If your router and modem are both functioning properly, the problem may be with your computer.
1. If you are connecting to the router via wireless, pull up the list of available wireless connections from the icon in the bottom right of your screen. Verify that you are connected to the correct network.
2. Disconnect from the network, wait a few seconds, then reconnect and wait until Windows finishes connecting.
3. If it says that windows cannot connect to the network, the problem may still be with your router. Go back to step two if you haven't yet done so.
4. If windows successfully connects or if you are plugged directly into the router, but you are still not getting internet, try opening the "Network Connections" window from the start menu, right clicking on the connection and selecting "Diagnose."
5. Follow the Windows network troubleshooting guide, including selecting the "Reset the network adapter option."
6. If after this process the computer will still not connect, restart it completely and check one more time to see if it will connect.
If the computer will still not connect at this point, proceed to the next step.
Step 4: Testing Your Ethernet Cords
If you have determined that the problem is not any of the pieces of individual hardware, it may be that the problem lies with the ethernet cords connecting them.
1. Check to make sure that the ethernet cord running from your modem to your router is securely connected and plugged in all the way at both ends. Normal wear and tear can often cause the plugs to break and not stay securely fastened in place.
2. If you are connecting directly from your computer to your router via an ethernet cord, repeat the same process for that cable.
3. If neither of the cords seemed loose or disconnected, you may want to try a new ethernet cord if you are not 100% confident that it is a reliable cable.
If the problem is not resolved, proceed to the next step.
Step 5: Connecting Directly to the Modem
If you are using a router which seems to be connecting properly but still cannot access the internet, the problem may be that it is not adequately providing the signal to your computer.
1. Unplug the end of your ethernet cord from the back of the router and plug it directly into the computer.
2. Open up the command prompt by bringing up the "Run" menu (Windows key + R if it is not in your start menu) and typing "cmd"
3. Type into the command prompt "ipconfig/release" and wait a few seconds.
4. Type into the command prompt "ipconfig/renew." You should see a new set of values come up.
5. Test your connection one last time.
If you were now able to connect, your problem may have been an issue with your router. Contact the tech support for your router to determine what needs to be done to resolve the issue. If you still cannot connect, proceed to the final step.
Step 6: Contacting Your ISP
If you have gone through all of the previous steps, or if your modem will not fully connect, the problem is probably an outage in your area or a problem with your Internet Service Provider. Get into contact with them to find out if there is a reported outage in your area, and to report it if they are unaware. From there follow their instructions for how to proceed.