Help! Why won’t my computer connect to the internet?

If your computer won't connect to the internet, there are plenty of things you can try before contacting your ISP’s technical support team.

Tuesday, 11 July, 2023

Given our reliance on the internet, its sudden absence may provoke feelings of discomfort, anxiety and even fear.

If the latter seems like an over-reaction to a temporary loss of connectivity, remember that nomophobia is a recognised psychological condition relating to being without a mobile phone.

Internet access is a cornerstone of modern life, and despite our day-to-day reliance on smartphones, most people still use desktop computers for key activities such as home working.

If your computer won’t connect to the internet, this is how to proceed without hyperventilating – or making matters worse…

How will I know my computer is offline?

These are some of the key giveaways:

Confusingly, devices occasionally claim to be connected even though no data is being sent or received.

Check other hardware around the home. If games consoles and smartphones are sharing data with the router while a computer isn’t, the issue is clearly specific to the latter.

If other hardwired devices are reporting problems, visit on a device with mobile data connectivity to check for local reports of ISP issues.

What should I check first?

If problems relate specifically to a PC or Mac, start by ensuring power is reaching it and peripherals are working property.

Check the Ethernet cable (if you’re using one) hasn’t worked loose, doing the same with any Powerline adaptors.

Next, ensure your wireless router is working normally.

If the router is culpable, it may need a restart. This often flushes out temporary issues, allowing firmware installations to complete and giving the hardware a chance to cool down.

If there are no obvious impediments, explore your computer’s internet control menu. On recent versions of Windows, go to Settings > Network & internet.

A summary of your device’s status will include connection method, properties, data usage and so forth.

Ensure the chosen method of connectivity (typically WiFi) is turned on, and the network has been correctly identified.

Is Airplane mode overriding your connection? Could a VPN or other utility be blocking data transfers? Look for slider buttons which might have been accidentally turned on.

Run any available diagnostic troubleshooting tests. If your computer won’t connect to the internet, it might simply need a gateway reset or another automated revision.

Antivirus software occasionally firewalls internet access if it detects a problem, so run a quick scan (any package should work offline) to ensure nothing untoward is reported.

If the issue revolves around wireless data communications, hardwire your device to the router using an Ethernet cable or Powerline adaptor to eliminate WiFi congestion or interference.

You’ll also need to do this before moving onto our final suggestion…

If all else fails

Contact your ISP’s technical support team with detailed notes about the tests you’ve already conducted.

Having the device pre-hardwired to the router allows them to work more efficiently.

Remain patient – it’s probably not their fault your device is offline – and follow any instructions you’re given to investigate possible resolutions.

Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!