Problem-solving your Internet connection
- what could possibly go wrong?
when it's not working
If some child <shudder> messes with your Settings, or your computer throws a fit of some kind and you need to reload the software and type in the Settings again, having that information gives you independence.
None of us like feeling helpess, and you don't need to be.
Anytime your computer 'freezes' because two or more bits of software are telling your unfortunate computer to do opposite things at the same time (politely called a 'software conflict'), any of the software being used at the time can be damaged.
SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) in this case is to restart your computer and cross your fingers.
Kicking it has been known to work, but if you break anything it does void your warranty ;-)
If something is definitely not working, you can do something about it.
Like your spare tyre, backup disks with copies of your Internet connection software (and other programs you use) allow you to trash (delete) the suspect software and reload it from the 'clean' disks.
"Your server is down"
Internet servers, the equipment at your ISP that is your gateway to the rest of the Internet, do very occasionally go 'down', stop working.
This is rare because prudent ISPs invest in powerful backup batteries and surge protectors to deal with power 'flicks' and 'outages' that may or may not be common in your area <grrrr>.
Your ISP will be continually expanding their equipment to deal with the flood of data in both directions, trying to keep the service running while making changes 'on the fly'.
This can fall in a heap, or something can simply go wrong. But not often.
So while your Internet techo will always appreciate knowing if something has stopped working at his/her end, the best place to start is with what you know:
"I can't connect to your server"
Like the original users of the Internet, you 'log on' to the main computer, the server.
A number of things can go wrong with this.
If you are not getting on, and before you try to explain an unknown situation to your techo on the end of a phone, save yourself time and frustration, and become more independent, by checking:
- everything is securely plugged in and turned on
- then restart
and try to connect again
- (which means turning the computer off, then back on,
- and thus closing and then re-opening all the software)
- are you getting a dial tone from your modem?
Most common causes:
- (no dial tone, no phone connection)
- modem not plugged into computer or phone line;
- someone else using the phone line
- is your modem making a connection with the modem at the ISP?
External modems will have a CD (Carrier Detected) light on to show this.
Internal modems are convenient but don't show you what is happening.
If your modem is not connecting, check that your Settings for the modem are correct.
If they are, and you've tried the steps above, and you're still not getting through, it's time to ring ISP Tech Support at your local Internet Service Provider.
- your modem is connecting and your login dialog box is coming up, so you enter your username and password, but you're not getting on.
Most common cause:
Remember that usernames must be in lowercase (small letters) and that your password is like your cashcard PIN ... you need to remember it and keep it safe.
- your username and/or your password are not correct.
- [Part of keeping it safe is to change it regularly (monthly) using your ISPs password-changing webpage, making sure it is 5 - 8 characters long and a mixture of small and large letters and numbers.
- Anyone else knowing your password, or 'cracking' it on the Net, can connect anywhere and book up hours on your account.]
- Can't remember your username and/or password?
Kick yourself and very politely ring ISP Tech Support and ask.
- You are sure your username and password are correct,
but you are still not getting on.
Time to ring ISP Tech Support and tell them that.
- You are getting on, but you can't pick up your email.
Check that you have entered your username and password correctly when your email program asks for them.
If so, the most common cause of email blockage is:
Often, this file will very slowly squeeze down your modem to you, so you get progress messages and the progress bar on the screen moving, just, but generally people think nothing is happening.
- some 'clever' person has sent you an enormous file (1 Mb or more!) by email.
If there is any progress, that file is on its way.
If there is not progress, or if you don't want this enormous file anyway, you can ring up your ISP and ask for it to be deleted from your mailbox on the server, and the rest of your normal-sized messages
will move through.
- (email msgs work best at a page or two
[a few k or kilo[thousand]bytes of info,
as opposed to Mb =mega[million]bytes)
- You can connect, but you can't get onto this great website with your browser.
Check first if you can get onto other websites, starting with your ISP's homepage, your closest connection.
Some sites are very busy at times, or simply go 'down' for a while.
- If you can't get onto your ISP's homepage, ring ISP Tech Support.
- If you can get onto your ISP's homepage, your browser connection is fine.
The break in the line is somewhere else. Try something another step along,
in Ballarat on the regional network,
then the great Australian search engine ANZWERS
on the national Ozemail network.
If that's OK, try overseas sites.
- If you can't get anything away from your home server, turn off your proxy in your browser Settings temporarily.
- (Remember that the proxy saves you time by keeping popular pages stored locally)
- If you can get 'away' sites only with the proxy turned off in your browser Settings, the proxy is probably not working at your ISP.
Ring up and tell them.
- If you can get some 'away' sites, with or without proxy, but not sites further away, then it is nothing to do with you or your ISP, but is a problem on a different part of the Internet.
Generally, if you try again another time, it will be fixed.
If not, and this site is important to you, you can send a message to a webmaster on a main page on the same webserver (webmaster@hostname).
next article: Where things are on the 'Net
back to 'Look Here First'