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10 steps to fix a broken Internet connection

Kenny Hemphill | May 5, 2015
The Internet has become critical for both work and play; so when it goes down it can cause major issues. The solution is often fairly simple: here are some things to do when you can't connect.

The always-on internet connection has only been a feature of most of our lives for a decade or so, yet it's become so critical for both work and play that we feel lost when that connection breaks down. Thankfully, most of the time the problem causing the break down can be fixed without resorting to calling our broadband provider. Here are ten things you should do when you can't connect to the internet.

1. Try another website or service

If you're using a web browser, try navigating to another site to make sure the problem isn't specific to one website. If that doesn't help, try a different browser. If you're using a service like Twitter or iTunes, go to a web browser and try and navigate to (say).

2. Use WiFi?

Check that you're on the right network. OS X and iOS are generally very good at connecting to the 'right' network, usually the one operated by the modem/router connected to your ISP's broadband network. But they're not perfect. If, for example, you have a BT Home Hub, you might find it connects to the 'BT Wi-Fi' or 'BT Wi-Fi with FON' access points instead of your home wifi network. Click on the Wifi menu in the Mac's menu bar and check which network has a tick next to it. If it's not the right one, select the correct network.

On and iPhone or iPad, go to Settings and Wi-Fi to check.

3. Is it the network or the device?

If you can't access the Internet on your Mac, check whether another device, say an iPad, can connect. If the second device can connect, the problem is with your Mac and not the router or broadband connection. If the problem is with an iPad, try connecting from your Mac.

4. Turn it off and then on again

It's cliched advice, but it's a cliche for a reason: it works. If your Mac is displaying an exclamation mark over its wifi menu bar item, click the menu and select 'Turn Wi-Fi off.' Wait a few seconds, then turn it on again. Sometimes this is all it takes to fix a wifi problem.

If the problem is with an iOS device, go to Settings, then Wi-Fi and move the slider to the off position. Wait a few seconds, switch it back on again, and then try connecting again.

5. Restart your router

If you've eliminated all of the above, the next step is to restart your router. It's remarkable how many problems can be fixed this way. Even if the status lights on the front of the router show that it's connected, it's worth restarting. You can do it either by pressing the power button, waiting ten seconds, and then pressing it again, or by pulling the plug out, waiting, and then plugging it back in again. You'll have to wait for a minute or so until it resets itself and re-connects. Once it's done that, try and connect to the Internet again.


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