What to Do When There's No Internet Connection

Troubleshooting Wi-Fi when there's no connection

The Wireless Connection
The Wireless Connection

One of the more perplexing and annoying Wi-Fi problems is having a strong wireless signal but still no internet connection. Your device might show full Wi-Fi bars but every attempt to reach the internet leaves you with errors or no page loads.

Unlike issues like not having a wireless connection or dropped wireless signals, when you have a strong wireless signal, all indicators seem to be saying that everything is okay—yet you can't connect to the internet.

Below are some steps to walkthrough if you're having this common problem. Work from the top down to tackle the simpler troubleshooting steps first.

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 contents and helps reset any background or lingering problems.

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


How to Reset a Home Network Router

Connect to the Correct Network

Make sure your Wi-Fi device isn't trying to reach a network next door or a Wi-Fi repeater that isn't fully set up, either of which could be having their own troubles that are blocking 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, then it's probably not your network.

Sometimes, however, Wi-Fi extenders will use the same network name as your own 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, then the issue rests with the extender, and you can troubleshoot from there.

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, like one in a different country, or disconnect from the VPN completely to see if that fixes the problem.

Make Sure You're Getting an IP Address

Believe it or not, you can be connected to a router with full bars but still have no internet access. This is because the problem isn't with your connection to the router but with your router's connection to your ISP.

When this happens, your router will work on your network but since it can't reach the internet, it won't have a valid public IP address, meaning that you won't be able to send or request data over the internet.

Here's how to check:

  1. Most routers let you do this with the or address.

  2. Find an area of the settings called Status or Network Status.

    Your router might call it something completely different, but the goal is to find the page that describes the core network settings like the public IP address.

  3. See if the IP address is valid.

    If there aren't any numbers for the IP address or the status says Disabled or Off, or something else along those lines, then the router isn't getting an IP address from the ISP. 

  4. Use a Renew or similar button on that page to request a new IP address from your ISP.

    This could take several minutes to complete, so wait until the page you found in Step 2 refreshes to show a new IP address.

  5. If the address doesn't renew or you can't find that button, call your ISP for further assistance since the problem might lie with them instead of with your network hardware. For example, they might have an issue of their own or they might have terminated your connection for a violation or some other reason.

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 very specific 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.

Person in bed using a laptop without Wi-Fi
Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi

Open Your Browser

If you're using a Wi-Fi hotspot, like 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.

  1. Open your web browser.

    A hotspot page should show up automatically with basic information on what company is providing the hotspot and what to do next.

  2. Agree to the terms or enter the password you were given by the business.​

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

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

Try a Different DNS Server

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

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

Re-Enter the Wireless Password

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

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

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 will be blocked to reach the internet or another network device.

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