The Windows XP Laptop Cannot Connect to the Internet

By Matthew Schieltz

Many reasons exist for why a Windows XP laptop might not be able to connect to the Internet. Windows XP contains a Network Troubleshooter within the Help and Support Center in which you can read about basic troubleshooting problems and steps. Solving the connectivity issue with your laptop, however, often requires going beyond basic steps to check out problems like issues with your network interface card or workgroup settings.

Step 1

Check the laptop's wireless signal and make sure it is turned on. Most laptops either contain a special Wi-Fi light next to the power button or above the keyboard space indicating that the wireless function is switched on. Press the Wi-Fi button next to the power button on your laptop to turn the wireless on and off. Or, press a keyboard combination on your laptop to engage the wireless function. For example, some laptops require you to press the blue-colored "Fn" key in combination with a corresponding letter or number that contains a Wi-Fi symbol.

Step 2

Configure the laptop's wireless network card properties. Right-click the computer icon located next to the Windows XP system clock in the lower-right corner of the screen. Click "Open Network Connections." Right-click the "Wireless Network Connection" symbol and choose "Properties." Click "Configure" in the "General" tab to open the network card properties box. Verify the "Device Status" box reads that your card is "Working properly." Click the "Advanced" tab. Set the "Network" property type to "Infrastructure" if you're trying to connect to a wireless access point like a router or set it to "Ad Hoc" if you have set up a peer-to-peer network. Click the "SSID" property and type in the appropriate Service Set Identifier (i.e., network name) given to your wireless network. Click "OK" to save the changes and wait for Windows XP to attempt to find and reconnect to the network.

Step 3

Update the drivers for your wireless network card. Click the "Driver" tab in the network card's properties box. Click "Update Driver." Select the "Install the software automatically" radio button and click "Next." Wait for the Hardware Update Wizard to find, detect and install the updated drivers for your network card.

Step 4

Configure your laptop's power management settings if you are trying to connect to the Internet without your power cord. Click the "Start" button in the lower-left corner of the Windows XP desktop. Right-click the "My Computer" option in the right-hand column and click "Manage." Select "Device Manager" from the left column. Click the plus symbol next to "Network adapters" in the list to view your wireless adapter. Right-click your adapter and choose "Properties." Select the "Power Management" tab. Click the checkmarked box that reads "Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power" to prevent your disconnection from the Internet. Click "OK" and close the Power Management window.

Step 5

Verify that your peer-to-peer or home network is set up correctly if you're not connecting to an access point (i.e., router). Click "Start," open the Windows XP "Control Panel" and select "Performance and Maintenance." Click "System." Click the "Computer Name" tab. Click the "Change" button near the bottom of the box where it reads "To rename this computer." View the "Workgroup" name and verify that it is identical to the name of your peer-to-peer or "ad-hoc" network. Change the "Workgroup" name, if necessary. Attempt to reconnect your laptop to the Internet.

Step 6

Refresh Windows XP network settings. Right-click the computer icon next to the system clock and choose "Open Network Connections." Select your network icon to highlight it. Click "Repair this connection" under the "Network Tasks" list to allow Windows XP to refresh and renew your IP address. Right-click your network icon and choose "View Available Wireless Networks." Click on "Refresh Network list." Select your network from the list and click "Connect." Type in the correct password or network key if your network uses security and encryption.

Tips & Warnings

  • Hook your laptop directly to your Internet modem with an Ethernet wire to verify that the problem does not reside with your modem. If you do not receive a connection when directly connected, call your Internet service provider (ISP) for help, as this indicates that your modem needs troubleshooting.