There you are, ready to get to it. You’ve turned on your computer, the desktop is up, all the icons and startup programs are loaded and you’re ready for action.
You run your browser to visit your favorite website, but to your horror, a terrifying message appears on the screen.
“Server not found; cannot display the webpage.” A grim reality sets in. You are not on the Internet.
Your mind races, searching for an answer. What has gone wrong? Everything was fine the last time you used your computer.
Is something wrong with the computer? Did you press the wrong button? Is your computer broken?
Millions of people experience this exact scenario every day. They also assume their problems indicate something is wrong with their computer.
Their assumptions are usually wrong, though. If you ever find yourself in this situation, with no Internet access, I want you to keep one thing in mind as you work through the problem: there’s nothing wrong with your computer.
A “no Internet access” problem is almost always due to something else, but, there is probably nothing wrong with your computer.
“OK, Mr. Smarty-pants Computer Guy,” you may be thinking, “if there’s nothing wrong with my computer, then what’s the problem?” T
he problem is, most likely, that your Internet service, from either Cox or AT&T, isn’t making the proper connections with your computer.
This can happen for many different reasons: buggy software that simply stops working; internal processes that “hang” because of conflicts with other processes; bad wiring coming into your area from the cable or phone company; “traffic jams” on your provider’s network, or on the Internet, itself; and the list goes on and on.
You may also be experiencing a simple Internet service outage. Outages happen all the time. Most go unnoticed, but they are quite common.
It may be because you, like most normal Internet users, are using cheap, consumer-grade modems and routers that just aren’t going to work properly all the time.
“But,” you protest,” I paid $150 for my wireless router. What do you mean ‘cheap’?”
I read an excellent book recently called, “Where Wizards Stay Up Late.” The book describes the beginning days of the Internet in the 1960s and 70s, and the computer geniuses that made it happen (and, no, Al Gore was not one of them).
Until then, nobody had ever connected large groups of different types of computers together and had them freely communicate.
Computer “networks” were a pretty new idea, and the smartest computer folks in the world were having a hard time making the idea work. Finally, someone invented the first router, known as the “Interface Message Processor.”
This device was a dedicated computer with one purpose: to “route” information from one computer to another.
Every computer on the early Internet (called, ARPANET) had to have one. They were the size of a refrigerator.
It took a forklift to move them around. The first routers cost $1 million each.
Since then, the cost of a router has decreased dramatically, while its power has increased.
Still, most large businesses and institutions will not hesitate to spend upwards of $1,000 for a high-quality router.
They will also spend tons of money on high-grade wiring to connect everything to the Internet, and they will pay extra big bucks for super-fast, super-consistent Internet service.
The reason is simple: reliability. Many institutions, like hospitals, banks and military facilities, cannot afford down time; down time is not an option. However, it costs a lot of money to have high-reliability networks.
Contrast that with “the rest of us.” We spend relatively puny amounts of money on cheaply-made Internet equipment built by peasants in foreign lands.
It’s no wonder our Internet service is flakey from time to time. In fact, it’s somewhat of a miracle that it even works at all.
“So, what’s the answer?” you ask. “If there’s nothing wrong with my computer, how do I get back on the Internet?” The answer is contained in one word: reboot. It’s the computer repair guy’s biggest secret. Remember that word: “reboot.”
Here’s how the big secret works: turn everything off, wait a while, and then turn everything back on again. Begin by turning off your computer. Next, unplug the power to both your modem and router. Wait a while (1-5 minutes). Then, plug in the modem and give it time to “settle down.”
Second, do the same thing to your router. Lastly, power up your computer, give it time to load all of its startup processes, services and programs, and then see if your Internet service has not somehow, marvelously repaired itself. Voila!