So you’ve having trouble with your internet at home. It may or may not be completely down and you are trying to figure out where the problem is. It might be slow, it might drop off a lot. Your router and modem have been rebooted many times, but before you call Tech Support and get told to do that all over again, you want to know what you can do.
Well fortunately there are a few things a home user can do to check their internet and see potentially what the problem is before calling Tech Support. The first thing you should do if you haven’t already is go through my “How to Fix Most Internet Problems” article.
Here’s what to do if you are completely down:
Check If You Are Resolving DNS
Resolving DNS is fancy IT speak for, “Can your computer find the IP address of a site by its name.” It actually means more than that, but for home use the following overly simple explanation should suffice.
Every website on the internet has an associated “IP Address” so that your computer can know where that website is located on the web. When you type ‘google.com’ into your web browser, your computer asks a Domain Name Server what the IP address for google.com is. It then takes the returned IP address and goes to the site. For instance google.com’s IP address as of this writing was ‘126.96.36.199’. If you copied and pasted that IP address into your browser it would go directly to google.com.
What you want to find out is if your computer can look up a DNS address. This assumes you are logged in as an administrator account on your Windows 7 computer.
Step 1 – Open a command prompt by clicking your start menu and typing “cmd” into the search box and hit enter.
Step 2 – Type “ipconfig /flushdns” and hit enter.
Step 3 – Type “ping google.com”. You should get something very similar to this back:
If you only get the first line where it says “Pinging google.com [188.8.131.52]” but then no replies it means you are at very least resolving DNS. That means that your router is at least seeing your ISP’s domain name servers and they are responding. It also means you aren’t getting traffic back from the internet. The blockage is MOST likely on your service provider’s end.
If you get a “Host not found” error, it means you flat aren’t connected to anything. This could show a bad router, modem or even bad settings in your computer. So let’s try and eliminate the computer as the culprit.
Check your Network Settings
If you followed my advice on setting up home wi-fi then follow these instructions here to make sure your computer’s settings are correct.
Step 1 – Right Click on the network connection icon down by your system clock and select Open Network and Sharing Center. Note: If you connected wirelessly, this will instead look like a cell phone’s signal icon with the five bars.
Step 2 – Click on “Change Adapter Settings”.
Step 3 – Right click on the active network connection and select “Properties”.
Step 4 – Select “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click the “Properties” button.
Step 5 – Make sure your settings match the picture below.
If the settings are set to “Use the following” on either of those, and you followed my guide to setting up your router, the settings are just wrong and fixing that will probably solve your issue.
Step 6 – Click OK on the TCP/IP properties window, and on the adapter properties window. If you made any changes you will need to wait a few seconds for your computer to apply them.
Step 7 – Check and see if you can resolve DNS now. If you can, try opening a website.
If this doesn’t solve your problem then the next possibility is a bad router.
The easiest way to take the router out of the equation is to hook your computer directly into your modem and see if that solves the problem.
Step 1 – Find the cable leading from your router to your modem. On the back of the router it’s the cable in the port marked “Internet” or “Modem” if you have a normal home grade router. Disconnect this cable from the router and plug the end that used to be in the router directly into the ethernet port on your computer.
Step 2 – Unplug the power from the modem, count to ten, then plug it back in.
Step 3 – Once the modem has booted up completely, try resolving DNS.
If that worked then it’s probably your router causing the problem. You can reset it back to factory defaults then run through my Wi-Fi guide again and see if that fixes the problem.
If it doesn’t work it’s PROBABLY your modem, or the ISP. At this point you should really call tech support and see if they can’t help you. Sometimes telling them you did these things will speed the process up.
If you have another computer with an ethernet port on it, it’s a good idea to test a second one just to make sure it isn’t your computer. Most of the time it isn’t because other devices in the house will be connecting fine, and that computer won’t.
NOTE: Some ISP’s like AT&T might sell you a modem that is also a router, they typically call these “Gateways”. You might also have a modem/router combination for your cable internet. If this is the case you typically need to call tech support anyway.
Please be aware that if you have AT&T’s DSL service and you got one of their 2WIRE gateways, you’ll be happy to know that unlike most ISP’s AT&T fully supports this hardware. Their tech support agents can either walk you through fixing most basic networking problems with it or actually resolve the problem from their end by logging into it themselves. This is very convenient if you aren’t very tech savvy.
Slow Internet Troubleshooting
This problem is a little more vague and hard to pin down than being completely down. For one you need to know what speed internet you’re paying for. Let’s assume you are getting 3mb download speed, and 1mb upload. This is a common plan across the US.
Step 1 – Go to speedtest.net.
Step 2 – Click the “Begin Test” Button. Wait for the test to complete.
When it completes, as long as you aren’t streaming videos or have some other device using the internet, you should get something within 10%-15% of your speed back. So if you have 3meg/1meg, your download speed should show something like 2.7 at the lowest, and your upload should be .8-.9 at the lowest.
If it is lower than that your ISP may be having a problem. You can eliminate your own hardware by running a speed test on another device. If it shows the same, turn off all internet using devices except the computer you are on, your router and your modem. Run the test again, see if it is still the same.
If the speedtest never gets better, you should call your ISP and see if they can fix it. Sometimes things just come loose on their end, settings get screwed up, etc.
If it is better on another device consistently, you might want to run some anti-malware software on that computer or call someone to check it out for you.