Why would email and MSN Messenger work, but web browsing not?
July 16, 2008 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Why would email and MSN Messenger work, but web browsing not?

I got a phone call from a disgruntled mother, wondering why her colleagues home computer will access her email (via Outlook) and be able to use MSN Messenger, but cannot connect to the internet to browse. I'm sure if I sat down at the computer I would figure it out with trial and error, but that's not possible, so I am trying to think of a load of different suggestions of what to try to fix this issue...
posted by lukeo05 to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
It could be a problem with the browser, have you tried a different browser? Is she sure Outlook and Messenger are connected? They could be running, but not connected to the internet and she doesn't know it.
posted by Deflagro at 1:29 PM on July 16, 2008

I'm no expert, but sounds like a DNS issue. Flush the DNS?
posted by sharkfu at 1:30 PM on July 16, 2008

if she's using IE - is the 'work offline' option checked (in the file menu)?
posted by askmehow at 1:33 PM on July 16, 2008

She might have clicked offline browsing accidentally. Firefox its "file" -> work offline. ie7 its tools -> "work offline".
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:33 PM on July 16, 2008

Possibly the browser is set to use a proxy, and the proxy isn't there anymore?
posted by zippy at 1:34 PM on July 16, 2008

This is a very common symptom of spyware infection. For instance, a program intercepts webpage requests from Internet Explorer, and redirects you to a spammy 'search results' page. If that process fails for some reason (bad install, destination site no longer exists, incomplete removal), your webpage requests never get anywhere.

Easy diagnosis: Install Firefox. If it works, the problem is spyware. If it doesn't...there may still be spyware using a different mechanism. For clearing things up, try Ad-aware or Spybot. HiJackThis is also a great tool, but more advanced. If you use it, you'll want to clean up BHOs (Browser Helper Objects), which are usually what screw up IE.
posted by a young man in spats at 2:04 PM on July 16, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips everyone. I should be getting the laptop over in the next couple of days so I can figure it out. I'm sure she is probably using IE and that is the source of the problem in some way! I'll get her all firefoxed up.
posted by lukeo05 at 2:19 PM on July 16, 2008

Is ZoneAlarm running on the affected PC? If so, you can read about the problem and solution here.
posted by shinybeast at 2:26 PM on July 16, 2008

Browsers, e-mail, and IM clients all use different ports for access (browsers are generally port 80, e-mail is usually 110 and 25, not sure what port MSN Messenger is set for). It's possible that a firewall or some other software has blocked port 80.
posted by camcgee at 7:57 PM on July 16, 2008

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