Can you fix the Internet I broke?
July 23, 2008 8:29 AM   Subscribe

My computer is showing that I'm connected to the Internet, but it's not actually connecting. My usual trouble shooting tricks aren't working, so does anyone have any ideas?

I'm sorry if this has been answered before. I don't seem to have specific enough terms to search here or on Google.

The Interwebs were working fine, and then I restarted because I was prompted to for an update. I have a PC (an HP laptop) running XP. The laptop is about four years old. It shows that I'm connected (wirelessly) to my signal, but I can't get to any Web sites, use instant messenger, etc.

I've tried: repairing my connection (that seemed to happen as usual, but with no results), restarting, restarting and repairing again, turning off the wireless router and turning it back on, connecting to another signal, turning off my computer's wireless card (do we still call it that in 2008?) and turning it on again, restarting and repairing again, just for good measure.

One of those usually works, but not this time.

Any other ideas?
posted by Airhen to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
That happened to me after a recent Vista update. After trying eight million things, what worked was downloading a program to completely vaporize all traces of Symantec Antivirus and Internet Security, which had been pre-installed on my PC. Norton Removal Tool. (I used another computer and a flash drive to get the Removal Tool to my PC, of course.) After that, the net came back and I reinstalled Symantec with no problems.
posted by moonmilk at 8:42 AM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The first things I'd try, just to narrow down the problem, would be pinging your router, pinging an external site, and testing DNS resolution.

To ping the router you'll want to open up a command shell and type "ping -n 5" (where is the IP of your gateway/router). This will send five pings and tell you whether the router is reachable and responding correctly on the LAN side.

If you don't get any response to those pings (if you get "Packet loss 100%"), something is wrong in your LAN ... since you're using wireless, it means either your WLAN configuration or your router is acting up.

If that works, then I'd move on to pinging an external site. If you want, you can try "ping -n 1" ( is the IP address for one of's servers, and it should be reachable from anywhere with relative ease). If that isn't reachable, something is bad in your internet connection, and you probably need to contact your ISP.

If that works, then it's time to test DNS resolution. I won't go into this step-by-step, because there are good instructions elsewhere: Quickly Testing Windows DNS Resolution. You want to try testing resolution using several DNS servers, including your gateway/router (if it acts as a DNS server, which it probably does), your ISP's DNS servers, and some arbitrary well-known ones (e.g., others here) If you get a problem with DNS it's fairly easy to fix, but the solution depends on the particular problem.

Anyway, apologies if you've already tried this, but this is exactly what I'd go through (and frequently do) when my internet connection starts acting up.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:43 AM on July 23, 2008

Best answer: There was a recent question that was similar to this -- are you running ZoneAlarm? If so, go here (stolen from that other thread).
posted by inigo2 at 9:12 AM on July 23, 2008

Response by poster: inigo2, I am running Zone Alarm (also Symantec) -- thanks. That looks like a likely culprit, since I had just gone through an automatic update. I should have put that info in my question. I haven't been able to try any of this out yet, so if anyone has other ideas, I will gladly try those, too.
posted by Airhen at 9:24 AM on July 23, 2008

i had a similar problem - updating the driver for my Compaq laptop's WiFi adapter solved it. If the ZoneAlarm thing doesn't solve it, try looking for an updated driver. It was a pain in the ass to find it - like yours my laptop was about 3-4 years old. Don't rely on HP's site for updates - go to the manufacturer of your WiFi adapter's site and look there. Good luck.
posted by nomad73 at 9:54 AM on July 23, 2008

I'm going to second ZoneAlarm, I've walked a couple of different friends through this after updating. The fix indicated should take care of it pretty easily.
posted by pupdog at 10:29 AM on July 23, 2008

Response by poster: The problem was the Zone Alarm/XP update issue. Thanks for all your help. I'm sure the other ideas will come in handy with future problems. And Kadin2048, I'll use your test in the future, too. I had not tried that already.
posted by Airhen at 11:29 AM on July 23, 2008

Thirding the Zone Alarm thing. Windows XP update, zonealarm and ack, no 'net.

Stopping ZA, and updating it solved the problem.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 1:50 PM on July 23, 2008

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