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Internet Troubleshooting for Dummies

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You use the Internet almost every day, but when you get an error message, do you have the faintest idea what to do?

You’re not alone.

We all rely on the Internet for basic, everyday tasks—checking email, looking up recipes, getting directions, reading reviews—but the more important the Internet becomes, the fewer of us understand basic troubleshooting.

We easily master the web tools we use at work or the social media platforms we enjoy, but what do we do if we can’t reach the Internet? These tools no longer do us any good.

Our engineers have an Internet troubleshooting secret weapon. We call it “8.8.8.8” (“eight dot eight dot eight dot eight”). Using this series of numbers, you can 1) check to see if your computer is connected to the Internet and 2) do a temporary repair in some cases.

For example: let’s say you sit down at your computer and cannot connect to the Internet. What do you do? Using our secret weapon, you:

1. Go to your start menu and type “cmd” (short for “command”) in the search window. Press “ENTER” and your command window will pop up.

2. Now type “Ping 8.8.8.8” into the window and press “ENTER”

3. If you are connected to the Internet, you will see something like this (note: your numbers may vary slightly… that’s okay):

C:\Users\>ping 8.8.8.8

Pinging 8.8.8.8 with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=8ms TTL=55

Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=8ms TTL=55

Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=8ms TTL=55

Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=8ms TTL=55

Ping statistics for 8.8.8.8:

Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),

Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:

Minimum = 8ms, Maximum = 8ms, Average = 8ms

*This looks like a whole bunch of mumbo jumbo, but really it’s just telling you (in computer language) that your computer sent a packet of data to Google’s Domain Name Server (DNS), and Google was able to return the packets in 8 milliseconds (time=8ms). This means your Internet works!

4. If you are not connected to the Internet, you will see something like this:

C:\Users\>ping 8.8.8.8

Pinging 8.8.8.8 with 32 bytes of data:

General failure.

General failure.

General failure.

Ping statistics for 8.8.8.8:

Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 0, Lost = 4 (100% loss)

*This means your computer sent a packet of data to Google’s DNS, and Google was not able to return the packet. Sadly, your Internet is not connected.

If you are connected to the Internet, try your task again. Now if it doesn’t work, you know it’s a website issue, not an Internet issue.

If you are not connected, try these steps before calling a professional:

1. Check that your Internet cable is connected to your computer or that your wireless router is turned on.

2. Try rebooting your modem, router, and/or computer (in this order). Test the Internet after you re-start each one.

If neither of these steps work, call for help. At least this way, you know you’ve done everything you could.

Just remember your secret weapon: “8.8.8.8”.

Try this once or twice and let us know how it works for you.

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