At one point or another, a user is going to experience problems with his Internet connection. It could be an issue that is hardware or software related. The problem could be coming from the Internet service provider. Wherever the trouble may be coming from, a user needs to know at least the basics of how to troubleshoot his PC, the peripheral devices, and the associated software applications that enable him to connect to the Internet. The simple measures discussed here apply to Windows based systems.
1. Click on the 'Diagnose Connection Problems' link.
Internet Explorer 7 has a network diagnostic tool feature. Whenever this browser is unable to open a website, a white error page with the heading 'Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage' appears. At the bottom you will see the pertinent link. Click on it to run the diagnostic tool. Afterwards it will report if it detected any problem and if it did, it will provide some troubleshooting guidelines. Sometimes what you might think is a connection problem is really just a problematic website. Try to navigate to other reliable sites and see if they load properly or open the problematic website in a different browser.
2. Check the physical connections.
Make sure all cables are connected in their proper slots and that all network devices are turned on. An external modem will have two cables running from it, one that connects to either a phone jack or cable outlet (for those that use cable Internet service) and another that connects to your personal computer. An internal modem on the other hand is installed inside your PC and therefore has only one cable that goes out to a phone jack or cable outlet. Network cables that connect modems to PCs are either Ethernet cables or USB cables. Each type has a specific connector end that only fits into a specific slot
3. Turn the modem or router off, and then turn it on again.
Sometimes the issue lies in the connection between the modem or router and the Internet service provider. Disconnect the cable between the computer or router and the modem. Turn off the modem and wait a few minutes before reconnecting the cable and switching the device on again. This procedure starts a fresh connection between the device and the service provider. This may correct any errors in the IP settings or network configuration. To do this method on an internal modem, you need to restart the computer.
4. Check the compatibility of the network devices.
A device used in a Windows-based system will only work properly if it is compatible with the specific Windows operating system in place. This site lists down the various devices that are compatible with Windows according to operating system type: http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/hcl/default.mspx. To confirm if a network device attached in your computer is functioning correctly, use the 'Device Manager' tool which is found under 'System Information'. This tool will list all the devices which are currently part of your computer. The label you're looking for is 'Network Adapters'. Click on this item and the name and model number of your network device should appear. If it doesn't then the system doesn't detect the device. If it does appear but has a red 'x' mark on it, then it is disabled. Right-clicking on it will show you the option to enable it. If it appears but is marked with an exclamation point then the system is experiencing problems with the device. You might need to update the device's driver and this option is also available if you right-click on it.
Internet problems are varied in nature. The most important step in addressing them is to diagnose and identify the problem. With a little basic knowledge on how your computer connects to the Internet and some deductive reasoning, an average user can accomplish this first important step.