I Cannot Connect to the Internet on a Wireless Network

By Michelle Mista

Many people find wireless networking to be a convenient way to use the Internet. Despite its convenience, wireless networking connections are susceptible to problems, including inability to connect, loss of connections or inability to maintain a stable connection. Learning how to troubleshoot a wireless connection can help keep using wireless networking connection convenient. Basic wireless networking troubleshooting involves checking physical connections as well as hardware and software configurations.

Things You'll Need

  • PC with wireless card
  • Wireless gateway

Step 1

Check that your USB wireless network card is working properly, if applicable. Check that it is seated correctly in the USB slot, with the signal light on. If the light is not on, the USB port may have gone bad. If this is the case, move to another open USB port.

Step 2

Confirm that your wireless card is enabled. Check your wireless networking icon to confirm that. Restart your wireless networking connection by disabling and re-enabling the connection.

Step 3

Confirm the name of the network you are connecting to. The Secure Set Identifier (SSID) is the name of the network. If you are in an area with multiple wireless networks, it is possible to connect to the wrong one.

Step 4

Confirm that the SSID is not hidden. When setting up a network, an administrator may choose to hide the SSID to help prevent unauthorized connections. If the SSID is hidden, you must enable the option to connect to a hidden SSID.

Step 5

Check that you have entered the passphrase correctly, if the network is encrypted. Many wireless networks use encryption to only allow authorized users. A typo in the passphrase can prevent you from connecting to the wireless network.

Step 6

Check your signal strength. Poor signal strength can affect the network connection. Walls and distance both affect the strength of a wireless signal so make sure that you are as close to the wireless gateway with as few physical barriers as possible.

Step 7

Confirm that the wireless router has Internet connectivity. If you confirm that you are connected to the wireless router with good strength, it may be possible that the wireless gateway has lost Internet connectivity. Turning the wireless gateway off and then on again, and then rebooting all the devices that were connected to it should restore Internet connectivity.

Tips & Warnings

  • As of August 2010, 802.11n is the networking standard for newer wireless gateways. If you have an older wireless network card, such as an 802.11b, you will not be able to connect to a newer network running 802.11g or 802.11n or better unless the administrator has configured it to be backward compatible.