How to Fix It When There's No Internet Connection

Troubleshooting Wi-Fi when there's no connection

The Wireless Connection
The Wireless Connection
Introduction

What to Know

  • When you have Wi-Fi but no internet connection, the problem usually lies in your devices rather than your internet service provider.
  • The most likely culprit is a router or modem. The quickest fix is to restart one or both.
  • If you still have no internet after restarting, you can try several other troubleshooting steps.

This article explains what to do when you have a strong wireless signal but no internet connection.

How to Fix It When You Have No Internet Connection

Follow these troubleshooting steps when you have Wi-Fi but no internet.

  1. Reboot your router and modem. The first step in troubleshooting most tech problems, and especially networking hardware issues, is to restart. Rebooting the router and modem flushes the memory and resets background or lingering problems. You'll need to log in to your router as admin.

    Rebooting is different than resetting. Rebooting shuts down and then starts back up the router/modem.

    1:43

    How to Reset a Home Network Router

  2. Verify that you're connected to the correct network. Make sure your Wi-Fi device isn't trying to reach a nearby network or a Wi-Fi repeater that isn't fully set up, either of which could be having its own troubles that block your access. In these instances, even if Wi-Fi is on and connected, you might still not have working internet.

    To verify this, open the Wi-Fi settings and check the network name you're trying to connect to. If you don't recognize it, it's probably not your network.

    Sometimes, however, Wi-Fi extenders use the same network name as your router. If you think this is happening, reset the Wi-Fi extender or temporarily unplug it to see if you get Wi-Fi apart from that device. If you do get internet, the problem rests with the extender, and you can troubleshoot from there.

  3. Re-enter the wireless password. Some operating systems won't warn you if you enter the wrong wireless password. Your laptop, tablet, or phone might show that you have a strong Wi-Fi signal, but if the password is incorrect, the router will refuse to communicate with your device.

    If you're using a public Wi-Fi hotspot, you might be using an old password that used to work but has since changed, which is usually the case when you are trying to connect to a network that you haven't used in a long time.

  4. Disconnect from your VPN. Along the same lines, if your device is connected to a VPN service, you might see a full Wi-Fi connection but limited or no internet connectivity. Try a different VPN server or disconnect from the VPN to see if that fixes the problem.

  5. Make sure you're getting an IP address. You can be connected to a router with full bars but still have no internet access if the problem isn't with your connection to the router but with your router's connection to your ISP.

    When this happens, your router works on your network, but because it can't reach the internet, it doesn't have a valid public IP address, meaning you can't send or request data over the internet.

    Another reason you might not have a proper IP address is if your device is set up to use a static IP address but the router isn't allowing that IP address on the network, something that can happen if you mix a static IP address with a DHCP network.

    The easiest way to fix this issue is to leave DHCP enabled on the router and remove the static address from the device. For example, in Windows, you can do this in Control Panel by going into the network adapter's properties and selecting Obtain an IP address automatically instead of the manual assignment option.

  6. Open your browser. If you're using a Wi-Fi hotspot, such as at a hotel or airport, you might think you can check your email or browse the internet once you have a solid wireless signal, but that's usually not how most hotspots work.

    When you launch your web browser, a hotspot page opens with basic information on what company is providing the hotspot and what to do next. Agree to the terms or enter the password the business gave you.​

    For example, some hotels make you enter a password into the hotspot page to gain access, and airlines often charge for internet access.

    Wait for the hotspot page to finish setting up your connection or redirect you to another page where you can access the web normally.

  7. Try a different DNS server. If your device is connected to a DNS server that has corrupted data or is offline, even the strongest Wi-Fi signal is useless for giving you internet access.

    Locate a different DNS server and change the DNS server settings on your device to see if the web pages finally load.

  8. Check the MAC address filtering. Another reason you might be connected to Wi-Fi but not have internet access is if the router has MAC address filtering set up. This works by blocking devices from connecting to the router unless they have a specific MAC address.

    So, while your device might have no problem showing that Wi-Fi is connected, any attempt to reach the internet or another network device is blocked.

    Since this setup is usually seen only on business networks, your best bet to get around the MAC address filtering is to ask to have your MAC address added to the approved list. 

  9. Contact tech support. If none of these troubleshooting steps fixes the problem, you need tech support from your ISP, router manufacturer, or computer or smartphone maker.

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