Why can't I get online?

It’s really irritating when you can’t browse to your favourite websites or collect your email. Sometimes the problem is with your computer, but not always.

Here’s how to find out.

Check your modem and router

If you can’t connect to any website and you can’t get your email program to work, maybe the problem isn’t your computer. It could be your connection.

Look at your router and modem. Are the normal lights on? If not, are the router and modem plugged into the electrical outlet?

Are the cables connected securely to the router, modem and to your computer?

If you’re not sure, disconnect and reconnect the cables or reboot the equipment. Last week’s column showed you how.

Everyone should know how to do this. Did that help?

If the lights aren’t right, contact your Internet Service Provider for help. The problem is likely theirs to solve.

Is everything broken, or just some things?

Can you connect to anything? If you open your browser and get an error message --- or you simply get nowhere --- try a different destination.

If your start page is 123abc.com and it's down or struggling, your browser won’t connect. Type a different destination into the address bar and see if you can get there.

Try http://castanet.net or http://computercarekelowna.com. Or use one of your Bookmarks or Favorites to get to a site.

If you can open something besides your start page, the problem is on the other end, not with your computer or connection.

Is your email program working? If you can’t get to any websites, your email program is also down, and you’ve checked the modem and router, the next step is to make sure your computer is connected to the router/modem.

Is your Wi-Fi turned off? Is your Ethernet cable unplugged? Get your computer connected and try again.

If you can get email, but you can’t browse, or if you can browse, but you can’t get email, your connection is probably fine, and the problem is almost certainly with your computer.

If your email isn’t working, make a note of the error and call your ISP. They might already be aware of a problem with their email servers.

If it’s a password problem, be prepared to let them change your password and let them help you update your email program with that new password.

And please write down that password and put it where you can find it again.

If your email is fine, but you can’t get to any websites, your connection is probably fine and the problem might be with your browser.

What browser are you having trouble with?

A browser is the program you use to view websites. On Windows computers, the most common browsers are Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome.

If you’re using Windows 10, your browser might be Microsoft Edge. 

How do you know what browser you’re using? The browser’s logo is one big clue.

  • Internet Explorer’s is a lowercase blue “e” with a gold swoosh through it.
  • Firefox’s is an orange fox wrapped around a blue globe.
  • Chrome’s is a circle or a globe with blue in the middle and yellow, red and green on the outer part.
  • Edge looks like an Internet Explorer “e” with a Mohawk.

An easy way to get the name and the version of the browser is to visit http://www.whatsmybrowser.org/.  (Obviously, you should do this while your browser is working, not when it’s broken.)

If you have more than one browser on your computer, try a different one. If you can’t or if that’ doesn’t work, check the settings for your computer’s firewall and antivirus programs. Did you accidentally block something?

Have you tried turning it off and turning it on again?

Finally, rebooting the computer sometimes clears up these problems. It’s always worth a try.  Not sure how? See the second item here

If you’ve gone as far as you can go and still can’t arrive at your intended destination, you might still have to call for help. But you’ll have a better idea of where the problem is most likely to be found and who you need to go to for support.


How to get out of trouble.

What’s My Browser

Why does rebooting your computer fix so many issues? 


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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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