Fixing common wireless network problems

Problem: Your wireless network was working fine yesterday but today you can’t get online. Solution: Whether you set up your own network or hire a professional to do it, there will likely come a day when your Internet connection drops and you are suddenly unable to get online.

Problem: Your wireless network was working fine yesterday but today you can’t get online.

Solution: Whether you set up your own network or hire a professional to do it, there will likely come a day when your Internet connection drops and you are suddenly unable to get online.

Knowing the steps to reset your network can save you hours on hold with your Internet provider’s tech support.

If trouble strikes:

1. Power off your computers, router and modem (you may have an all-in-one modem/router).

2. Check to make sure any and all cables are fully engaged.

3. Turn devices back on in this order: modem, router, computer. Wait for each device to completely power up before turning on the next device. You will typically know this by the lights stabilizing.

Problem: Cousin Betty is visiting and can’t get her laptop online.

Solution: If Betty’s laptop has a built-in wireless adapter, her system should be able to “find” your wireless network.

In Windows 7, click the Start button and select “Control Panel,” then “Network and Internet,” then “Network and Sharing Center.” Choose “Connect to a Network” to show a list of available WiFi networks.

Find the name you chose for your network.

If her system is unable to locate any available networks, make sure that her Wi-Fi card is enabled.

There may be a button at the top left of her keyboard with a picture that looks like a beacon, or there may be a button on the laptop itself with this image on or near it.

Pressing the button will turn the Wi-Fi adapter on or off.

Once the laptop “sees” available connections, click the “Connect” button next to your network. A box will pop up requesting your network password (you DID set up that password, right?).

Once you enter the right password, click the box that will allow her system to automatically connect going forward, and Betty should be surfing the net in no time.

Problem: Your teenager was “fixing” something to get his Xbox online and now nobody can connect.

Solution: First, try the reset steps listed earlier.

If that doesn’t work, turn off the modem and router.

There should be an Ethernet cable running between your modem and your router.

Make sure that the cable is plugged into the WAN (Wide Area Network) port on your router, and that any computers hard-wired to your router are connected via the other ports. Run back through the reset steps.

If you still can’t get online, send your kid out to buy a wireless-networking-for-dummies book and get studying.

Problem: Everyone else is surfing the net smoothly — everyone but you.

Solution: If you’re getting a “Page Cannot Be Displayed” error, the problem may be with the website you’re trying to visit.

Attempt to view a site you know exists and is reliable, such as Google or Yahoo, to determine if the problem is with your system or with the website.

If it’s your system, the first step in any computer troubleshooting is to shut down your computer, turn it back on and try again.

Don’t just run through restart — fully shut down, wait a few seconds and then reboot.

If you still can’t access the Internet, run through the steps suggested above for getting Cousin Betty’s laptop online.

Windows 7 also has a “Troubleshoot Problems” option under the “Network and Sharing Center” that can help reset your system’s network if all else fails.

Andrea Eldridge is CEO of Nerds on Call, a company based in Redding, Calif., that offers on-site computer and home theater setup and repair. Contact her at

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