Laptop Can’t Connect To The Internet

| December 14, 2009

There could be several reasons why your laptop can’t connect to the Internet. We’ll run through a few of the most common here but there are a few things that need to happen for a laptop to gain Internet access through WiFi. You need to have a router, modem or access point configured properly, you must have a working Wifi adapter on the laptop, and you need to have passwords to any security the gateway device might be running. There are other things, like firewalls and other security that might prevent your laptop to connect to the Internet, but for the sake of this article, we’ll assume you are trying to gain access to the Internet from a working connection in your home.

Configure The Router If Laptop Can’t Connect To The Internet

Laptop Can't ConnectIf the router has not been configured yet, you will need to physically plug into it via an Ethernet cable and follow the router’s and your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) instructions for setting it up. Routers will not just work right out of the box. You will need to enable wireless, configure it as a DHCP server so it gives your laptop an IP address and you will want to change the default login and password, as well as set up WPA-2 wireless encryption. You may also be required to clone your laptop’s MAC address. You can not do this initial setup through wireless, as the laptop is not on the same network as the router. Once the initial setup is complete, you can reboot the router and unplug the Ethernet cable.  If you configured the router to use WPA-2 or WEP encryption, you will need to click on the WiFi icon in your system tray and enter the password for your network.

Make Sure WiFi is Enabled

If the router is configured but you still can’t get access to the Internet, make sure you did not inadvertently disable the WiFi adapter. Laptops will usually have a switch or button that enables and disables the WiFi. It might also be associated with a function (FN) key. If you can’t find it, consult your laptops documentation. If the WiFi is turned on in hardware, it could also be turned off in software. Navigate to the Control Panel and look for the Network Connections icon. You will likely find two adapters in there, one for the wired and one for the wireless. Make sure they are enabled. You can also check their properties from here. Right-click the adapters and check their properties. Under TCP/IP, make sure they are set to Obtain IP Address Automatically. If your router is setup to be a DHCP server, it will give the laptop an IP address.

Laptop Can’t Connect To The Internet After Troubleshooting

If  your laptop can’t connect to the Internet after configuring the router, try disabling any firewalls you have running. You can also try rebooting all devices. This will often fix DHCP and DNS issues. Power down the laptop, unplug the router and modem, then slowly power each up in reverse order. If you still cannot connect to the Internet and have confirmed the router and laptop are setup properly, you can try bypassing the router and plug directly into the modem (if they are separate). If you can’t connect either wired or wireless, you should contact your ISP for further assistance.

If your laptop can’t connect to the Internet after these suggestions, please join our forums or read our other networking tutorials for additional help.

Category: Networking

Dave

About the Author ()

Dave has been providing free computer repair and tech support advice online since 2002. Join us on our forums and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for weekly tips and other helpful computer articles. Connect with me on: Google+

Comments (38)

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  1. Emmanuel says:

    My laptop and modem is working properly but It can’t access the net. Anytime I put the modem cable at the back of the laptop the light goes red and yellow instead of red and green so please can you help me solve the problem.

  2. John Hatchett says:

    Hello Dave- my situation is a little bit like emmanuel my laptop works great I had got on the net with my laptop before when i take the cable of my laptop and put it on the computer it works now when i switch it back to the laptop i can’t get a connection period can u help me.

    • Dave Dave says:

      Try rebooting the laptop with the cable plugged in. If that doesn’t work, Go into the control panel and look under your network connections. make sure the connections is not saying DISABLED. You will sometimes even have a tiny icon near the clock. If that has a red X over it, then it’s disabled.

  3. Tabitha says:

    I have a laptop and just go tit yesterday, i got the router and everything set up and it worked great. Then I shut down the laptop and went to get back on the internet later and it won’t work. The status image shows bars and a little blue circle on top of the bars. When I click connect to a network it doesn’t do anything. Can you help me?

  4. Dear respected sir,
    we have a problem in our router, that can’t work properly. In a while it connect after sometime it disconnect. We are using the Insta DSL. We also configured the Router for 3 time, but the problem does not solve. Please help me in this event.
    Thanks

    • Dave Dave says:

      If this is a wireless connection, you probably need to relocate the router, as interference will often cause a wireless signal to drop-out.

  5. Ron says:

    Hi Dave,
    My vista home premium gateway laptop is connected wirelessly to my d-link router (DI-714P+) which is connected with an ethernet cable to my desktop pc (XP-SP3). For the last few years, there has been no problem with laptop connecting automatically to my WEP encrypted SSID which has a MAC filter. Now suddenly it won’t even see my wireless network, but it does see all our neighbors’ networks. Our iPhone also stopped seeing our network, so I’m thinking it has something to do with the router hardware or software or our desktop software. Please advise. Thanks.

    • Dave Dave says:

      I would try updating the firmware on the router. While there is no reason why anything should have changed, something has. Since the router is a few years old, maybe refreshing the firmware will help.

  6. Didi says:

    I am having troubles connecting to the Internet on my Toshiba laptop. It works fine at WIFI hotspots but it won’t connect to my home network. The other laptops that use the same router works fine. Also when I try to connect the Lan line directly to my laptop, it won’t connect either. I am so at lost. Noone is able to help me. I had a virus a few weeks ago and it I had it removed, had my whole system reformatted … it worked on my unsecure work router for a month then now it doesn’t work anymore. Do you think it’s my laptop ? HELP…

  7. marcus says:

    Hi,

    i encountered problem connection to my WIFI, before its working and now its not, i try to connect again but, i cant find my WIFI account, i try already at network connection and enable the wireless but still its not connected. the strange thing is that, i can check the other Wifi account but i cant find my account name on the list of wireless.

    please help

    • Dave Dave says:

      If you can see other routers in your neighborhood, but not your own. Try rebooting the router. Unplug it for a minutes then plug it back in, then reboot your laptop and see if that helps. For more help, please join our forums.

  8. Jon says:

    I can connect to the internet in safe mode but I can’t connect when my computer is booted normaly. I have tried ipconfig release and renew, and disabling a lot of startup programs.

  9. Jon says:

    I forgot to add that I can ping websites. Both Firefox and IE8 don’t work

  10. Devon says:

    Hey My laptop works fine and the monitor does too but when I try to connect to the internet it tries to identify the connection through a Ethernet cable but when its done identifying it said unidentified network no internet access
    and it was working a few weeks ago and then nothing…I disabled the firewall
    Enabled the ethernet port and still nothing…but this computer its working of course.

  11. leah says:

    hello. i just want to ask about my laptop. i can’t connect to the internet eventhough i had a internet access. can you please please help me regarding with problem. thank you.

  12. Justin says:

    Hi,
    i have no idea why my wife’s laptop will not connect to the internet wirelessly. my laptop is running windows 7 and never has a problem. she is running windows vista and can almost never get online at the first try. i have tried turning my computer off while she tries to get online to help. what makes it more puzzling is that sometimes we can both be on the wireless network at the same time. do you have any ideas?
    thanks,

    • Dave Dave says:

      Do you see multiple wireless networks around your home? It’s possible her laptop is being promiscuous and trying to connect to another signal it things is stronger. If you right-click the wireless icon down by the clock, you should be able to set your router as the preferred network.

  13. Steve Hawkey says:

    Hi
    I am having a few problems with my Netgear router. I have a personal laptop that was working perfectly on wireless and Ethernet cable through the router ; I also had a work laptop that could only work on Ethernet cable due to wireless being disabled due to security reasons.
    Suddenly one day the Ethernet cable connection stopped working on my work laptop & when I checked if my personal laptop would work on cable this also has stopped working. This is really frustrating as I need a wired connection for my works laptop to enable me to work from home.
    The wireless connection is still working fine on my personal laptop. Is there anybody out there that can help. AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

    • Steve, have you tried unplugging the modem and router, then plugging them back in. Sometimes simply restarting everything will fix the problem. Power down the PC, the router and modem and reboot them in reverse order.

  14. Steve Hawkey says:

    Hi Dave. Thanks for coming back to me.
    I have tried re booting, unplugging, re strartintg & nothing works.
    I even tried to put my desktop on the ethernet cable today & that doesnt work either. Whatever port I plug into, the netgear router port just flashes franticly. I have even today upgraded my NIC card & wirless card drivers. Still nothing

  15. Steve, try plugging directly into the modem and reboot the computer. If it works, then you know the problem is with the router. Then try logging into the router via the web browser (let me know if you need help doing that) and look for something called MAC address cloning and let it clone the MAC address of your computer–this is a necessary step for the router to work.

  16. Steve Hawkey says:

    Hi Dave
    I dont have a modem just a Netgear router. Setup is Broadband & phoneline supplied by a company called Pipex. A filter is plugged into the phone socket. The Netgear router & Phone are plugged into the filter.
    Wireless from the Netgear router & Ethernet cable plugged into the 4 port Netgear router.

  17. Linsey says:

    My netbook will connect to my own ersonal Wifi at home automatically without any problems. However, when anywhere else, it can find the available netowrks but no matter how strong the signl, cannot connect, even if they are not password protected, or i have the pass key?
    Any advice is welcome!
    Thanks

  18. Sam says:

    I have a Toshiba laptop and i do not have wifi but i have an adapter and i connected it to the laptop but i cant access the internet still,where do i go to like enable i geuss the internet on my computer??

  19. Mike says:

    I have cable internet and Netgear wireless router. There are two desktops and one laptop in my home network (win xp & vista home premium). One desktop (vista) is connected through the external wireless card. The laptop is (and another desktop) are connected through the network cable. The internal wireless card of laptop (vista) doesn’t see my own wireless connection. In the same time it sees the other wireless connections it the list. Why my desktop can see my own connection and my laptop cannot see this? My daughter with her mac-book also cannot find this connection but could to see the other W-Fi. Can you help please?

    • I would check the Netgear router setup to make sure it is broadcasting its SSID. There should be a checkbox to enable and disable. Otherwise, have you tried rebooting the router?

  20. Ally says:

    Hi I hope someone can help, my mum’s laptop works wirelessly fine everything ok till it configures and updates itself then it won’t let it connect to net via wifi or cable. Internet works well as check with several other devices and ok. We have done system restore twice now but every time it updates this happens. I am stuck any ideas please help or would it be better to just save photos etc to discs and restore to factory settings?

    Many thanks

    Ally

    • The update is killing it so reinstalling the OS might not help. Hmmmm. Maybe obtain a copy of the wifi driver from the manufacturer and after the update breakes it, go into the control panel and see if you can update the driver to the one you downloaded.

  21. What Operating System?

    Sometimes removing malware will kill your Internet connection. Try a system restore: Start>Programs>Accessories>System Tools>System Restore.

    Go back to a date before the problems started.

  22. Ally says:

    Software is vista, system restore just fixes it temporally till update cones up. Thank you for your help

  23. john somerville says:

    dave, my vaio laptop worked fine with my wireless router, all of a sudden it stopped picking up a signal. it just says, the settings saved on this computer for the network do not match the requirements of the network. what can i do. it still works with a ether cable thou, but that defeats the purpose, please help.

    • What operating system?

      I would reboot the router first. Just power it down and after a few minutes power it back up. Restart the laptop. If that doesn’t work, you might have to go into the network settings in the control pad and look for the wireless adapter. Under properties, try changing the setting to AES.

  24. Cheryl says:

    I have a HP Laptop. We have a wireless router in the house, which I can connect to, however, there is NO internet access. I can connect to neighbors routers and get internet just fine. We have tried everything (ip config, rebooting, restarting, unplugging router & modem, etc.) Nothing seems to help. Every once in a while I’ll be connected to someone else’s router, then look down and I’m connected to ours and internet is fine. We have no clue what to do now. Should we replace the router?