Internet Stopped Working

Loss of Internet access sure can be frustrating and if your Internet is broken we imagine you're reading this page from a work computer or friend's house. If that's the case feel free to print out this page and bring it home to see if you can fix it yourself.

We frequently get calls from customers saying their Internet is not working and asking how to fix it. Unfortunately there is no straight-forward answer here since there are a multitude of problems which can cause these symptoms. This self-help guide should assist you in identifying the underlying problem to help get you back online.

Identifying the Problem

As with most computer problems, identifying the exact issue is 90% of the battle. The actual repair is usually quite easy to do once the underlying problem is understood. So let's put on our detective hats and try to find out the cause of your Internet problems.

Is the problem site-wide or limited to a certain computer?

If all computers at your premises are having problems with Internet access, start by checking the obvious stuff. Did you forget to pay your bill? Is your cable/DSL modem plugged in and online? Call your Internet Service Provider's (ISP) tech support to make sure there is no outage in your area. If the problem is a laptop that can't connect be sure to eliminate wireless as the problem by directly connecting it to your cable/DSL modem with a network cable.

Site-wide connection problems

If your ISP thinks everything checks out on their end but you can't get any of your computers on the Internet then this is likely a problem with your cable/DSL modem, or intermediate network router/switch. First, check all network devices are powered up and running. Sometimes things become unplugged or power adapters fail. There should be several green or amber lights blinking on each network device.

If all your network devices appear to be running it's possible that they have crashed or locked up. In these cases a simple power cycle usually clears things up. Start by unplugging your cable/DSL modem for five seconds, then plugging it back in. Wait a few minutes then try the Internet again. If that doesn't get you back online, repeat this process for all downstream network devices one by one.

If you still can't get online the next step is to confirm that your wireless/broadband router is getting an Internet Protocol (IP) address from your ISP. The wireless/broadband router is usually connected between your ISP's cable/DSL modem and the rest of the computers on your network. It essentially shares a single IP address between multiple computers, so if it isn't getting its own IP address, none of the connected computers will have Internet access. Check the owner's manual to your wireless/broadband router for instructions on connecting to it and checking its IP address. If you can access its admin web page you'll want to check the "WAN" status to see if it is connected and has an IP address assigned by your ISP.

Still no luck? If all computers are back online except one, try giving that computer a reboot. If that doesn't work it could have a bad network connection/cable. The next section has more details on this.

Single computer connection problems

If you're like most Internet users you probably have the most common setup - a single computer connected directly to some "black box" that your internet company gave you. Most subscribers in Calgary have internet through Shaw or Telus. Shaw and Telus install a cable/DSL modem which provides Internet access for a single computer. If you're trying to connect a new computer or laptop and it's not working, try moving the network cable back to your original computer and try the Internet again. If the original computer can get Internet access, but your new computer can't, it's because your internet account is for a SINGLE computer. You can call your ISP and ask them to add the new one, or you can install a wireless/broadband router which hides multiple computers behind a single one. If you need one of these we recommend our rock solid wireless Internet router.

Back to troubleshooting. There is a single network (Ethernet) cable connected between your computer and your ISP's cable/DSL modem. It's possible the cable went bad (unlikely), the Ethernet port on the cable/DSL modem went bad (also unlikely), or the Ethernet port on your computer crapped out (somewhat likely). In each case you should be able to visually diagnose a connection problem here simply by checking the status lights at each end. If both ends of the connection aren't showing a green/amber light, flashing or not, the connection is bad. On your computer you'll see these tiny status lights right at the jack where the Ethernet cable plugs in. One is for transmit and the other is for receive. On the cable/DSL modem there should be a single light labelled "PC", "LAN", "Activity", or similar. Watch the lights (LEDs) on it as you plug/unplug one end of the cable - you'll be able to see which light corresponds to your computer's connection.

If you find a bad Ethernet port on your computer you'll have to use a different one. Many computers these days come with two Ethernet ports, but if you only have one you can add another. We recommend a PCI or PCIe add in network card versus USB network add ins. Once you have a new Ethernet port running you'll probably have to let your ISP know what happened so they can register your Internet account with your new Ethernet address.