Can’t Connect to the Internet

“Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage” Now What?

Everything was fine yesterday but today seems to be a different story. No matter which web site you try to get to, you get the same error message. You also can’t send or receive e-mail.

This article will detail some steps that you can take to get back to surfing.  The approach you take will depend on the configuration of your Internet connection, so we’ll look at that first.

Connection Scenarios

You may have a telephone-based DSL connection. You will have a box called a modem that actually connects to your provider.

You may be using a system that connects through your cable provider. In this case you will have a cable modem with a coaxial cable connection to your provider.

In addition, there is usually another box called a router that allows one or more computers to use the Internet connection. The router will also be connected to the modem with a network cable (Ethernet). The router connects to computers with a cable (Ethernet), wirelessly, or possibly both ways.

And in some cases, your PC might connect directly to the modem with no router involved.

Universal Steps

Regardless of how things are configured, try this procedure first.

1.  Turn off your PC completely.

2.  Unplug both the modem and the router from the power source.

3.  Check to make sure that all the wires are firmly connected between the computer and the router and the router and the modem.

4.  Also check the phone line or the coax cable connection to the modem.

5.  Wait about 30 to 60 seconds.

6.  Turn the modem back on and wait for about a minute.

7.  Turn on the router (if you have one) and wait another minute to allow it to make a connection.

8.  Lastly, turn on your PC and see if you can now get on the Internet.

In many cases this fresh start is all that you need to get back to normal.

If you still can’t connect, the next steps will depend on how you are connecting – wired or wirelessly. Laptop computers can pose their own special problems. If you are trying to use a wired connection, make certain that your AC power adapter is connected. Many laptops turn off the wired network connection to conserve battery power. Certain laptops have a physical power switch that turns the wireless radio on and off. This can also be done with a combination of function keys. Unfortunately, there are too many variables to discuss here.  Consult your user manual for details.

Now, Let’s Begin

When your computer starts, it communicates with the router so it can get a unique address on the network. This is similar to the street address of your home. All information sent to and from your computer will use this address.

Our first task is to ensure that this is working properly.

1.  On your keyboard,

Hold down the Windows windows_key2 key and strike the  key.

2.  In the text box that opens, type:


 3.  A window called a DOS Window like the one below will open:

4.  In that window, type:


 You will see a screen like the one below:


5. Your IP Address should look something like 192.168.0.x or 192.168.1.x where x is a number between 2 and 255. If you are using Vista or Windows 7 you will probably have to scroll up to see the numbers. This means everything is OK so far.

6.  If your address looks something like 169.254.x.x the router did not give you an address and you should probably seek professional help. Either the router or a card in your computer might need to be replaced.

7.  The Default Gateway address listed in the window is the unique address of your router. We will now see if we can communicate with it.

8.  In the DOS window using the actual address for your Default Gateway (in my case that is , type:


Your screen should look something like this:

9.  If instead you see Request timed out, you are not communicating with the router and you should probably seek professional help.

10.  Now, in the DOS window, type:


 Your screen should look something like this:

11.  If instead you see Request timed out, you are not communicating with the Internet and you should contact your service provider.

12.  At this point we have verified that we are communicating with the Internet at a low level, so now we direct our attention to the browser.

13.  In the DOS window type:


 The window will close.

14. We now need to look at Internet Options which you can reach through the Control Panel or from the Tools menu in Internet Explorer. You should see a window like this:

15.  Click on the Communications tab and then the LAN button.

16. The following screen will appear:

17. See if the Use a proxy server” box is checked. If so, uncheck it, click OK twice and see if you can now connect.

18. If you can connect, consider this a temporary fix. This is an indication that some unwanted software is running on your PC which caused the box to be checked.

When you still can’t connect, it time to call in someone for help to fix the problem.

It would be a good idea to print out a copy of this to have on hand when trouble strikes.

Come back next week and I’ll cover Computer Threats and what you can do about them. See you then!

About Dick Buchanan

I started working with computers some 25 years ago when my wife, Carol, and I purchased our first PC which was a Kaypro IV CP/M machine. This lead to studying computer science at Seattle Pacific University and becoming a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE). During this time I have worked for The Boeing Company, IBM Global Services, and Microsoft. I currently own and operate a local computing services company called Byte Savvy located in Kalispell, MT
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