Troubleshooting an internet connection problem
This guide was created by Simplifydigital - the broadband, TV and home phone experts.
We all know how frustrating internet connection problems can be, particularly when you’re paying top dollar each month for an internet connection that doesn’t seem to be working.
Being unable to connect to the internet immediately puts you back in those dark, pre-broadband days when you had to go through the laborious process of dialling the modem each time you wanted to connect. It leaves you cut off from the wealth of information offered by the internet and it can be a major inconvenience, especially if you use your internet connection for professional purposes.
But before you start tearing your hair out, take a look at our handy guide for troubleshooting internet connection issues.
1. Check that everything is plugged in
In a world seemingly run by software, physical problems with hardware and equipment are often overlooked. Believe it or not, you can have all the latest software running on your computer, but if something happens to your power cable you won’t be able to operate your machine.
With this in mind, conduct a manual check on all of the possible physical problems that could be affecting your connection. First, check that everything on your computer, laptop or netbook device is plugged in where it should be. Some devices have a ‘wireless’ switch that lets you toggle whether or not you want to receive wireless internet; ensure that this is turned on. All of this might seem obvious, but it’s amazing how often such things are overlooked.
Next, check your router. Ensure that the router power cable is plugged in and that the power light is on. Make sure that all the necessary lights are glowing green and that the device is fully powered up. If you’re using an Ethernet cable, make sure that the cable is plugged into the necessary slot and that it is in working order.
Finally, go back to your laptop or computer and right-click on the wireless icon. Ensure that the wireless connection option is activated in the menu that appears. Whilst this is technically a ‘manual’ check, it is an oft-overlooked fundamental error and so we have included it here.
2. Reset, reset, reset
Once you’ve checked all the manual connections and if everything seems to be in order, the next think to do is to get trigger happy with the reset button. Reset your router first, as this is the most likely source of the problem and will cause minimal disruption to your computer session.
Hold the reset button down until all the lights go out and then turn the router back on. Give the router a chance to power up and check the connection after a few minutes. This usually fixes any problems.
If all the lights are glowing green on your router after the reset but you are still not connected, try resetting your computer or browsing device. Allow the device to reboot and then try to connect again. If this does not solve the problem, try shutting down the laptop or computer and unplugging it. Do the same with the router. Allow the capacitors to drain for about 30 seconds to ensure that the devices are not holding any residual power. Then plug in again.
The magic solution of “turning it off and on again” is much parodied by IT geeks and technology whizz kids, but nine times out of ten it is an effective solution.
3. Problems with your wireless connection
If you’re using wireless internet, and you’re still unable to connect, you can try a few tricks to get your connection working again.
Although greatly improved in comparison to its earlier incarnations, wireless internet can still be temperamental. It is famously intolerant of things such as metal surfaces or interfering devices such as microwaves. In fact, even being in a different room to the router can cause problems.
If possible, try moving the router to the room in which you are working or moving yourself to the room containing the router. If this doesn’t work, ensure that the router is not on a metal surface or that its signal is not being blocked by anything metallic.
Turn off any devices that could be emitting interfering signals, such as microwaves or other such equipment. If you are still unable to connect, the problem could be the router and you may need a new one. To minimise disruption whilst waiting for a new router, invest in an Ethernet cable. This will allow you to connect directly to your broadband internet, but it should only be used as a temporary solution, as it defeats the object of having a wireless connection in the first place.
If you’re already using an Ethernet cable and this connection is not working, the problem could be down to configuration. If your Ethernet cable is a cat5 or cat5e cable, this is likely to be the cause of the problem. Such cables are used to connect one computer to another and should not be used to connect directly to the internet.
4. Call your provider
If you’ve tried all of the above and you’re still having no joy, it’s time to contact your ISP. Often there will be a specific problem at their end, one that could have been caused by any number of factors. A call to your provider will let you know what’s going on and will alert them to the problems that you are having. For a list of the main providers’ customer service numbers, please see our handy table below:
Call charges explained:
This guide was created by Simplifydigital - the broadband, TV and home phone experts, providing consumer guides and pricing information to help consumers find the best deals on their digital services. For more information, visit simplifydigital.co.uk or call 0800 542 4704.