So you’ve just purchased all of your networking equipment, and set it up in your office, but something is still keeping you from connecting to the internet. What do you do?
Here are four quick tips that you can use to start network troubleshooting:
1.) Don’t overlook the obvious
Check all the physical connections in your equipment, and make sure you are properly connected to power, too. A lot of networking problems are solved during this step, so it’s good to always check here first. The classic, “Turn it off and back on again,” may also help you reset connections, and helps ensure this isn’t a temporary network problem.
2.) Identify your router connection
When working with programs or systems over a network, the most important thing to know is if there is a working connection between you and your router. You’ll need to use the command line utility on your PC to determine your router address, so you can make sure you’re connected to the proper equipment.
To access the command line on windows, just access the start menu and type “cmd” into the search or run bar.
Once the command line is open, type in “ipconfig” to pull up the address of your router. Your screen should pull up a result similar to the below:
Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection:
Connection-specific DNS Suffix . : smartbuyer.com.
IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.103
Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.1
The Default Gateway result is your router’s address.
3.) Ping your Router
The Ping command sends a signal from your computer to your router to see if it will respond with an “echo request.” This helps you know if your computer and router are communicating.
Since you’ve determined your router address in step 2, you’ll need to ping this address by typing “ping” and then your router address into the command prompt window, and hit enter:
The command line will send a series of pings to the router to determine if there is a response. If you receive a reply, your connection is good! But if you still can’t connect to the internet, the problem is likely with your ISP, which means you’ll need to contact your internet provider.
If your router isn’t responding, follow the steps below:
- Turn off the power to the computer and leave it off.
- Unplug the power to your router and cable modem or DSL modem. Leave them unplugged for at least 15 seconds.
- Plug in your modem first, and then your router.
- Turn everything on, and ping your router again to see if there is a response.
If the network you’re looking at is more complex than a simple router/modem and a couple connected devices, you may not be able to trace the problem with a simple ping. That’s where the “tracert” command comes in. Or, “traceroute,” if youre on a linux-based system.
Think of a traceroute command like tracking a package that is shipping to you. Just like UPS might let you know the stops your package might make on its way to you, this command sends 3 “packets” to a hostname, and tracks every stop along the way, so you can pinpoint where a problem might lie. Traceroute also lets you know how long (in miliseconds) a packet takes to get back to you; this is known as latency. Longer wait times to a specific destination likely mean a network issue in that area.
You’ll need to know the hostname of the server connection that is not working for you. This could be the domain of a website that you can’t access, or any server address. When you run the traceroute, it sends a test “packet” to the destination several times. This marks each step to the destination, and the time it took to get there.
Start by pulling up the command line window again, then type “tracert” along with your hostname and hit enter:
You’ll see a series of “hops” numbered as the traceroute sends the packet to the destination, along with three measurements listed in milliseconds. Each hop is a stop on the packets route, and the times try to determine if each packet made it there in a similar amount of time.
Tracerouts might be a little difficult to read at first; thats ok! The main things to look for are abnormally long wait times, packet loss, or a lack of response from a specific location. Keep in mind, however, that some firewalls dont allow packets from a tracert to return.
Start At Home
If youre new to network troubleshooting, start by trying these steps on your home computer. Home networks tend to be more open, and its easy to read results off a smaller network. Good luck, and happy browsing!