How to Fix a Computer That Won't Connect to the Internet

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When a computer won't connect to the internet, a few basic troubleshooting steps will help determine the root cause.
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When a computer won't connect to the internet, a few basic troubleshooting steps will help determine the root cause. The problem is often related to the wireless router or the actual cable delivering the internet. In some cases, however, the computer hardware, network-related issues or conflicting IP addresses are causing the problem.

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Test the Network

Before working on the computer, make sure the internet is functioning properly. The easiest method of testing the internet is through a different device. If a different phone, tablet or laptop is functioning properly, the computer is likely the culprit. Find another device and connect to the network to access the internet.

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Alternatively, a network that is not functioning on any device is likely experiencing an outage. Plug an Ethernet cord directly into the internet port and plug the opposite end into a laptop or computer. If the internet is not available and the Ethernet cord is functional, an uncontrollable outage is active. In this situation, the local utility is responsible for locating and resolving the problem and it likely is affecting an entire area.

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Consider checking with the neighbors to see if they are experiencing the same outage. If so, call your internet service provider for answers. They will let you know if the problem is caused by a downed line or other issue in the region.

Reset the Router

If the internet is functioning with an Ethernet cord, the next step is checking the wireless router. Wireless routers often lose connectivity and are easily fixed with a simple power cycle reset. Unplug the power and Ethernet cable from the router and wait for a full minute before returning the connections.

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Allow the router another minute to reconnect and test the computer. This method is simple and effective. If the power cycle fails, look for a pinhole on the back of the router. Not every model offers the option but a small hole with a recessed button means a full reset is possible. Use a paperclip to hold the button for several seconds until the reset cycle begins. Watch for a change in the lights to know when the process has started. Wait until the router returns to normal function and test the connection.

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Lastly, consider replacing the router if the issue is a common occurrence. A failing router will still function sometimes but intermittent outages are common and inconvenient. Check for a warranty from the service provider to replace the router as well.

No Internet Access but Connected

Sometimes, the computer will have no internet access but will show the connection as active. In this case, your system is failing to grab the internet from the mainline or the network is blocking access. The connectivity without access means the wireless router is functioning and is transmitting a quality signal.

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When the PC is not connecting to internet in this manner, check the main connection for an outage first. If no outage exists, proceed to check the network. On a PC, right-click the internet icon and run the troubleshooter to determine the problem. On a MAC or Chromebook, access the network settings and look for the diagnostic tool to report a problem.

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In rare instances, the network is failing because an IP address conflict exists or another network error is disrupting the connection. A notification asking to reset the IP address is common. Choose the reset option to resolve the conflict while restoring the connection. If this fails, the computer wireless card is another possible issue. The card is a hardware problem that requires examination from a professional computer repair technician.