How to Identify Basic Internet Issues

When so much of our lives, both work and social, rely on internet connectivity, it can be extremely frustrating to be unable to access the information that we need, when we need it.

While some internet connection issues are inherently complex and beyond the scope of the average user’s knowledge base, if your computer refuses to connect to the internet there are a few simple tests you can perform to check all is well before you call your service provider or a technical support helpline.


Start with the obvious

When you can’t establish a connection and frustration begins to set in, it’s best to start by keeping calm and eliminating the obvious causes.

If you’ve recently moved your computer or router around, there’s a strong possibility that your lack of internet connection could simply be a loose wire or an unplugged item. Take the time to examine all connections and ensure that all’s well.

Assuming that everything looks like it’s connected as it should be, click the Start tab, or the window in the bottom left corner of the screen, followed by opening Control Panel. Once your Control Panel is open, select the Network and Internet icon, followed by the Network and Sharing icon.

The Network and Sharing icon should give you a simple, visual indication of any issues that your computer is having, with regards to connectivity. Clicking the manage network connections option will also tell you whether your Local Area Network connection is established or not, as well as your wireless connection.

Digging a little deeper

Assuming that all looks well with your connections, it’s important to determine whether your computer is operating effectively; the ping tool provides a simple and effective means of ensuring that your computer is connecting to your router in the way that it should.

Pinging your network router may look and sound technical, but it’s extremely straightforward and is something which can be undertaken by someone with the most basic computer knowledge.

Begin by clicking Start, or the window in the bottom left corner, selecting Accessories and then opening a programme called Command Prompt. As the new window appears, type the word ipconfig into it. What will immediately follow is a list of data, much of which may look confusing at first glance.

We are looking for an 8-digit number, which follows the term Default Gateway; the number is likely to look something like this: Other than this, all other information is immaterial.

Note the number down on a piece of paper and immediately type the command ping into the window, followed by a space and then enter the 8-digit number. Wait for a moment and the computer will return a list of data.

The data may look complicated, but in essence what is returned does not matter to us, unless we see a term such as Destination host unreachable or Request timed out, which indicates an issue in the communication between the computer and the router.

A string of data is a positive response and indicates that the problem is likely a software or firewall issue.

Starting your browser

Assuming that the results of your testing have been positive so far, it’s time to open your internet browser and try to open a webpage. Pick a popular site that you know should be guaranteed to open. If the site doesn’t open, then the issue could be related to your firewall or anti-virus settings.

Fortunately, it’s easy to find out whether the issue is related to your new anti-virus software. Simply open your anti-virus programme and find the setting on the front page that disables the firewall. The programme is likely to flash you a message which tells you to be careful and that you will be unprotected from threats; ignore this and continue as you can change it back in a moment anyway.

Re-open your internet browser and try opening the same webpage as before. If you have luck this time, you know the issue is related to your firewall. Log off the internet, reactivate your firewall and consult your anti-virus help guide or give the technical team a call, who will be able to help you to resolve the conflict.

Call in the experts

If you’re a computer novice and you’ve exhausted the options outlined above, your best course of action is to seek expert advice. Most broadband deals include a degree of technical support, so, rather than risking further complications, drop your internet service provider a call and they’ll be able to advise you further.

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