No Internet Access: Troubleshooting if Your ISP is Down

No internet accessIt happens to us all too frequently – our internet connection has gone. Generally, we just disconnect and reconnect, or failing that restart the router. But what if that fails to get your connection back? What next? Well I had this problem recently. Internet access just stopped late one evening. You’ve probably all seen it – a little yellow warning triangle appears over the Network icon in the tray. When you open it, it says you are still connected to the home network, but that there is no internet access. If you disconnect and then reconnect, everything is usually fine, but not this time or next morning when I restarted my PC and router. No other devices in the house could connect to the internet either.

Troubleshooting no internet access

Here are the steps I took to troubleshoot the problem:

1. Check for a dial tone on your phone line. Might seem obvious but maintenance could be taking place on your phone line by your telecom provider. No dial tone, no internet. I had a dial tone.

2. Anything newly installed or settings changed? No I hadn’t installed anything new or changed any settings on my PC and there had been no antivirus updates. The internet had just died of its own accord so the problem likely wasn’t on my PC.

3. Try a backup router if you have one. I have an old router I keep as a backup just in case my Netgear router packs up. Tried this and still no joy so it wasn’t a faulty router.

4. Check your router’s LEDs. I have a Netgear N300 and one of the LEDs was red during this time. They’re usually all green.

Netgear N300 no internet

The Netgear N300 manual I downloaded indicated that this particular LED is for the internet connection. A solid red light means that the internet (IP) connection has failed. Check your manual to see if your router has a similar LED.

5. If you have a smartphone with a data plan, check your ISP’s service status webpage.

6.  If not, phone your ISP. They may have a freephone number playing a recorded message if there are any reported problems. I didn’t have a freephone number for them as this problem hadn’t happened for a long time. I phoned my ISP on a paid number I had on file since I signed up and eventually got through to a recorded message: ‘…we are currently experiencing a nationwide issue for some customers… For updates, phone this freephone number…’. So that seemed to be my problem. ISP down. Later I tried again on the paid line to get specific information about my particular situation but there was a 30 minute queue so I left it. The connection came back later that day after 24 hours down.

Since this episode, I now have my ISP’s freephone number for service status and I suggest you find out if your ISP has one too. Worth having.

Getting internet access when your ISP is down

I work from home so I really need internet access throughout the day. So how do I go about getting connected when my ISP is down? Here’s some suggestions.

1. Well the obvious one, just use your smartphone. That’s fine if you (a) have a smartphone and (b) have a data plan on it, but I have a pay as you go smartphone with no data plan. Don’t need one much – I work from home. But since then, I now have a free Vodafone SIM card with data and minutes. Just top up £10 and you have 300 texts and 500MB of UK web access to use up within a month. That should help get me through any future short ISP failures. Once you have that set up, you can tether your phone and use its 3G connection as a wifi hotspot.

2. Get a prepaid 3G USB dongle for your laptop or PC. This should give you internet access while your ISP is down.

3. Get down to an internet cafe or some other wifi hotspot you trust. Check this out before you have a problem.

So there are some suggestions for troubleshooting when your ISP is down and getting internet until it returns. Have you any more suggestions?

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