Lose the internet? Here’s what to do

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You know how it goes – you’re reading email or Facebook and you click on a link and nothing happens.  Or you get an error message like “Internet Explorer cannot display this web page”.   It might seem natural to think that something is wrong with Internet Explorer (which may very well be true, but that’s another story).  In reality, the cause of the problem most likely is this:  your internet connection has gone down.

internet connection


Time to panic?  Not just yet.

Some of my clients immediately call me when this happens.  I give them the steps they need to take to get their internet back up and running.

Some people will call their internet provider to find out how to get the internet back.  However, what they tell you as the first thing to try is the same thing I would tell you as the first thing to try (which commonly fixes the problem).

What you need to do is power cycle your modem and router.

While that may sound complicated, I guarantee you it is an easy thing to do.  First, you need to identify which box is the modem, and which is the router.

– If you only have one computer and it does not connect wirelessly, you may have only a modem and no router.  If that’s your situation, you only need to power cycle the modem.

– In some cases, the modem and the router are combined in a single unit (this is what we have here with Verizon FIOS).  If that’s the case, you only need to do this procedure with that one unit.

modem and router

In the picture above, the box on the left is a modem and the box on the right is a router.  Your modem and router may not look exactly like this – these are just examples.  One thing that is pretty universale is that the router will have several ports on the back as the one in the picture does (it may or may not have a visible antenna like this one though).  Common router brands are Linksys, Netgear and Belkin.

Here are the basics of what these things do:  Your internet provider has a cable coming into your home, and that cable connects to their modem.  Then, if you have just one computer, you can connect your computer to that modem in order to get the internet signal.  If you have more than one computer, then you connect a router to the modem (by a cable).  Then the other computer connect to the modem – either by a cable plugged into one of those ports, or by picking up the wireless signal that the router sends out.

When your internet signal is lost, here are the steps to follow:

1. Turn off the computer.

2. Unplug the power cord from the back of the router.

3. Unplug the power cord from the back of the modem.  (Again, if your modem and router is a single unit, you would combine steps 2 and 3 as one procedure.)

NOTE: the power cord plugs for the modem and the router can sometimes look very similar – make sure you keep track which is which while you are doing this.

4. Wait 30 seconds.

5. Plug the power cord back into the modem.  Wait 60 seconds.

6. Plug the power cord back into the router.  Wait 60 seconds.

7. Turn the computer back on, and it’s quite likely that you will see that your internet signal has returned.  You fixed it!

If this procedure did not bring back the internet, it’s probably time to call your internet provider and have them do some diagnostic checks from their end to see if the problem might be a failing or defective modem, or if a line outside has become damaged.  But at least at this point you can tell them that you already power cycled the equipment, so that is one fewer test they will need to do (they might want you to do it again anyway, just to document it for the call).

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