Troubleshooting Your Internet Connectivity

Jul 21, 2016 | Blog

Anyone who uses internet on a regular basis has probably experienced an internet outage. Internet was working perfectly fine, and then an hour later when you come back into your office, it just simply does not work.

The following are suggestions for troubleshooting your internet when you experience such a situation.

Important Note: I have written these suggestions with the home or very small business in mind, where home-grade (consumer grade) network equipment is used. In bigger environments, some of these suggestions may or may not work.

1. Reboot your router
This is a very simple procedure, and is definitely the first thing you should try to do before moving on to other actionable steps, as it “works” quite often. Simply pull the power cable from your router, wait at least 30 seconds, and then plug the power cable back in. Wait another 1-2 minutes (for the router to completely boot), and then test your internet.

2. Check to see if your computer can access the router
In an earlier blog post on Routers, Switches & Firewalls, I explain that a router is an “internet gateway.” It is the electronic device that “routes” any network traffic from your computer destined for the public internet (such as checking your email or visiting a web page).

If the router isn’t working, or isn’t accessible from your computer, then your internet is probably broken. This first suggestion will provide useful information, but it won’t actually “fix” anything. Further suggestions below will include some actionable ways that you might be able to fix your internet connection without calling an IT professional.

To determine your router’s IP address, you can follow these steps (if you are using Microsoft Windows):

  • Type “cmd” in the run box and hit enter. In older versions of Windows, you may have to click on Start in order to get to the run box. In Windows 10, the “run” box is the same thing as the Search box.
  • Once you have a Command Prompt open, type the command “ipconfig” and hit enter.
  • You will see output similar to the following screen shotwindows-command-prompt-ipconfig
  • Look for the IP address beside the “Default Gateway” – in the above screenshot, my Default Gateway is set to 192.168.1.1. (If you’re curious, the IP address of the computer I am on, according to the screenshot above, is 192.168.1.40 – that is beside the “IPv4 Address”).

Next, in a web browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, type that IP address (of the Default Gateway) directly into the navigation bar, without the “http” or “www”.

google-chrome-address-bar
If a web page loads, then you know that your router is working and is responsive. If the request times out, then chances are, your computer cannot access the router.

3. Try pinging a hostname, and then try pinging an IP address
Similar to my first suggestion, this step is also more for informational purposes. But it would be good information to have. As in step 1, assuming you are using Windows, open a Command Prompt (remember, type “cmd” in the run box), and then type “ping google.com” and hit enter. If your internet is working, you should see output similar to the following:

windows-cmd-prompt-ping-google
If, instead of seeing a “reply” with bytes, time and TTL, you see a message indicating “Request Timed Out” or “General Failure” then you know that your computer cannot communicate with the DNS hostname of Google.com. If you determine that your computer cannot resolve the hostname, then instead of pinging “google.com” try pinging one of Google’s IP Addresses with the following command: ping 8.8.8.8.If your computer cannot even ping the IP address successfully, then you definitely know that your computer’s internet is broken. If your computer can ping the IP address but cannot ping the hostname, then your internet is not technically broken. Instead, you’ll want to use a different DNS Server than what your computer uses by default.

This How To Geek article explains how to use a different DNS server.

4. Bypass your router completely
Another step that you can take is, if possible, to bypass your router all together, and plug your computer directly into the “internet.” This won’t be possible with most Internet Service Providers. However, for some (such as EPB in Chattanooga), this is indeed possible and a very legitimate internet troubleshooting step. Unplug the internet cable from your router, and plug it directly into your computer. If internet still doesn’t work, then you know that your provider is having issues. If internet does work, then you know that the issue is within your own network (perhaps your router is broken).

Note: I would never recommend using the internet on a normal basis without a router in between your computer and the internet connection. Many newer consumer-grade routers come with firewall and security settings designed to keep your home network safe from hackers and intruders. If you bypass the router completely, you do not have this protection.

Hopefully, these steps will help you if you ever have trouble with your internet!

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