There are few things that are quite as annoying as trying to use the internet, and suddenly see that your internet connection doesn’t work.
The problem is that there are so many points of failure, it’s hard to know where the connection problem is. It could be your computer. It could be the router. Or it could be a problem with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) itself.
The following is a quick and simple guide to run through all of these points of failure and fix your internet connection right away.
1. Troubleshoot Your Computer
The moment you first experience a problem with your broadband internet connection, the first thing you should check is your computer.
There are a number of troubleshooting items you should check first.
Can You Reach Your Router?
The device that your ISP gives you when you sign up for internet service is called a modem. However, the newest modems ISPs provide are a combination of a modem (which connects to the ISP and establishes your home’s internet service), and a router (which creates an internal network for all of the devices in your home). Read more about how routers work, if you wish.
The default network address (IP address) of the router usually defaults to 192.168.1.1. However different routers may be set up with different IP addresses. You can check what your router’s IP address is by opening a command prompt (click on Start, type cmd, and press Enter). Type ipconfig at the command prompt.
The IP address shown next to Default Gateway is your router’s IP address. In the example above, the router IP is 10.0.0.1.
If there’s no IP address listed here, then you may not have a good connection between your PC and your router, and that’s the source of your problem. If it does display an IP, then confirm the connection by performing what’s called a “ping test”.
In the command window, type ping followed by the IP address of the default gateway. If the connection is good, you should see a response like the one shown below.
If you instead see Request timed out, then you have a connection failure between your PC and the router.
If you don’t have any connection failure between your computer and router, then here are a few additional network checks you can make to verify if the problem is only with your computer.
Check Your Network Card
If you do have a problem, then it’s time to troubleshoot your network card to make sure there isn’t a problem with it.
To do this, click on Start, type Run, and press Enter.
In the Run window, type the command devmgmt.msc and press Enter.
This will open the Device Manager.
In the Device Manager, expand the Network Adapters section, and look for any yellow exclamation marks beside the network adapter you’re using.
If there’s no exclamation mark near your active network adapter, then your network card is working fine. If you do see an exclamation icon, then right-click on it and click on Disable device.
Wait a minute or two, then right click on the network adapter again and click on Enable device.
Once the card is active again, check to see if the yellow exclamation icon is gone. If it is, check your internet connection again. If it isn’t gone, then you may have a hardware issue with your network card. Try rebooting your computer.
If this doesn’t resolve your network connection issue, then take your computer to a technician to have the network card checked and repaired or replaced if necessary.
If there’s no exclamation icon and your internet connection still doesn’t work, move on to the next section. Or you can dig further into your network problems by following our advanced Windows network troubleshooting guide.
2. Narrow Down the Problem
You can narrow down your internet connection problems by checking other devices on your home network.
One of the easiest devices to check is your own smartphone. On an Android or iPhone, just go into settings and Wi-Fi.
Your phone may already be connected to the Wi-Fi network, in which case you’ll see the status as Connected. If it’s anything other than Connected, your phone may be having problems connecting to the internet as well.
If you have any other computers in your home, run the same tests in the first section of this article. If none of those have an internet connection either, then you’ve narrowed down your problem to the router itself.
3. Switch to a Wired Connection
Sometimes, the wireless network managed by the router has a failure. You can confirm this by checking whether the wired connection has internet access.
If it does, then you know there’s no problem with the connection between your home and your ISP, or with the ISP’s internet connection.
Take a laptop and an ethernet cable, and connect the cable from your laptop to the wired router. Plug it into one of the numbered network connections in the back of the router.
Once your laptop wired network adapter establishes a connection with the router, attempt to access the internet with your router.
If it works, then you know that the issue is only with the router’s wireless network. This could indicate a faulty router. If this is the case, skip down to the last section of this article on restarting the router.
If it doesn’t work, then the entire router itself doesn’t have an internet connection. Move on to the next section to continue with your troubleshooting.
4. Check Your Router Lights
It’s time to check your router for problems.
The easiest way to see if there are any issues is by checking the status lights on the front of your router.
Look at the front of the router provided by your ISP. Depending on the model of the router, the lights will have different labels. But typically they follow the same basic pattern.
- Ethernet: The ethernet light reports on the status of your home wired network (if you have one)
- Wireless: The wireless light shows you the status of your home wireless network
- Send and Receive: If send and receive lights are present, they usually blink rapidly, showing the active network traffic
- Ready/Service/Connect: The last light is usually the connection to your ISP, and should remain solid if the connection is good
If the service light is blinking or out, then there’s a connection issue between the router and your ISP. If this is the case, move on to the next section.
If the service light is solid, then the connection between your home and your ISP is fine. If this is the case and there’s no internet available, then it’s time to call your ISP’s customer support line to ask whether there’s an internet outage in your area.
Outages like this are very common during storms or when there are high winds.
5. Restart Your Router
The last resort, before you give up on the router and take it to the nearest ISP store for a repair or replacement, is to restart the router. Unfortunately, many ISPs provide customers with low quality hardware. After operating for a long time, they can start malfunctioning. This can affect the internal network, as well as the external internet connection.
Take the following steps to properly restart your ISP router.
- Disconnect the power cord from the back of the ISP
- Wait at least 30 seconds for the connection on the ISP’s end to timeout
- Plug the power cord back into the router
- Watch the lights. You’ll see the connection light blink several times before turning solid
- The remaining lights will turn on in succession. Once they’re all lit up or blinking, you’re ready to test the internet connection.
Use either the wired or wireless tests described in the previous sections to test whether you can no connect to the internet.
The router restart will resolve the issue 90% of the time. If the restart doesn’t resolve your internet problems, it’s time to give the ISP customer support line a call. The odds are good, if there’s no internet outage, that they’ll want to give you a replacement router.
Internet Connection Issues, Fixed!
When you can’t access the internet, it can be very annoying, especially if you’re on the right side of the digital divide. Luckily, the power is in your hands to troubleshoot the issues and get the connection back, or at least determine if it’s due to an outage.
If your internet connection is fine but it’s just very slow, there are a number of things you can do to troubleshoot a slow network as well. There’s no need to tolerate network issues when there are plenty of things you can do to fix it.