How to troubleshoot your network connection

How to troubleshoot your network connection

Having problems connecting to the internet or sharing folders with other computers on your network? Try this step-by-step troubleshooter

Most of the time, setting up your network connection is nice and simple. During the initial setup of your PC you’ll be prompted to connect to your wireless network if applicable, or your network connection will be set up automatically if you’re using an Ethernet cable.

However, things often go wrong. You may lose access to the internet, or find it difficult to share files with older PCs. The following guide will take you through some of the most effective troubleshooting steps available to help you get connected.

1. Perform basic checks


Check your wireless adapter is switched on. Look for the light on the front of your wireless adapter or laptop. If it’s not switched on, look for a switch or key combination (for example, press [Fn] + [F4] on Advent N-series laptops) to enable it. If connected via Ethernet , check the cable isn’t damaged and is plugged in securely at both ends.

2. Check the router

If you’re struggling to connect to the internet on more than one of your home computers or mobile devices, the problem almost certainly lies with the internet connection or your modem/router . Try switching off the modem and router for 30 seconds, then switch it back on again. This clears the router ’s memory and can fix many problems. If the internet connection still refuses to work, try restarting your PC, then call your internet provider for further troubleshooting advice and a line check.

3. Access Network and Sharing Centre

Further connection problems on a single PC can be tackled in Windows. From the desktop (Windows 8 users may need to click the Desktop tile or press [Windows] + [D]), locate the wireless or wired network icon in the taskbar ’s notification area on the bottom right of the screen. It should indicate if there’s some kind of connection issue (look for a yellow exclamation mark or red cross). Right-click it and choose ‘Open Network and Sharing Centre’.

4. Run network diagnostics

Windows 7 provides a network map indicating clearly whether or not you have internet access; Windows 8 tells you if you have internet access next to Access type. If the connection is broken, click the ‘Troubleshoot problems’ link at the bottom of the screen. Try the Internet Connections Troubleshooter first: click the troubleshooter, then select ‘Advanced’ before clicking ‘Run as administrator’ to ensure the troubleshooter has all the access it needs to fix your problem. If it doesn’t work, try the Network Adapter Troubleshooter next. These troubleshooters should fix most connection problems.

5. Firewall settings

It’s rare for your computer’s firewall to block all internet access, but firewalls can be responsible for blocking individual programs. How you unblock access to a program through your firewall depends on which one you’re using. Windows’ own Firewall has an option for providing exceptions to individual applications.

Open the Windows Firewall , then choose ‘Allow a program through Windows Firewall ’ or ‘Allow an app through Windows Firewall ’. Click ‘Change Settings...’ If the program isn’t in the list, click ‘Allow another program/app…’ to select your chosen app or browse for it from the list. Once done, click ‘Add’. Tick the ‘Public’ box next to the program only if you want to give it internet access outside your home network. Click ‘OK’ to finish.

6. Sharing settings

Windows 7 introduced HomeGroup as a convenient means of sharing files and other devices over your network, but it won’t work with older PCs. If you’re having problems configuring your HomeGroup, or want to set up a file-sharing network that works across older PCs and Macs, check out our video tutorial above, which covers these and other network connection problems in more depth.

If you’re still having problems getting your network to work correctly, why not let the experts do it for you? Check out KNOWHOW’s Network Setup and Support service.