How to Fix Common Computer Network Issues

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Network problems are annoying. It may seem impossible to fix your problems or even figure out what is wrong. If you lost your connection to the network or are having difficulties setting up your home network so that users can share files, folders and printers, the tips below can help to troubleshoot your problems.

Computer Can't Reach the Network

  • Check the light on the back of your computer, near the network cable. The light should be green. If there is no light, disconnect and reconnect the cable. If there's still no light, check your connection on that other end. Make sure your network cables are securely attached to a working hub or router. Remove the cables and plug them back in to be sure. If that connection is secure, replace the network cable.

  • Go into Control Panel. Double-click "System." Go to the Hardware tab. Click on "Device Manager" to open it. Look for "Network Adapters" and click the plus sign next to it. If you see an explanation point or a red X, this indicates a problem with your network card.

  • Turn off your computer, unplug it and remove the connection to the monitor. Open your computer and reseat your network card by removing it and putting it back in place firmly. Put your computer back together and turn it on. If you still have an error with the network card, you'll need to replace it.

  • Evaluate your network configuration if there is no problem with the network card or cable. Right-click "Network Places" on your desktop. Choose "Properties" from the menu. Look for the "Local Area Connection" icon. Right-click it and go to "Properties." Click on "TCP/IP."

  • Note your settings in TCP/IP. If there is an IP address entered, write it down, along with the subnet mask and gateway. Check working computers in your home to make sure the subnet mask and gateway are the same as yours. The IP address must be different from other network devices.

  • Release your IP address if you are set up to receive an IP address automatically. Click on the Windows "Start" button, click "Run." Enter the word "cmd" in the run box. Type "ipconfig/release" at the prompt. Then type "ipconfig /renew." You should receive a new IP address. If you get an error, check your router and replace if necessary. Then type "ipconfig /flushdns" to clear your DNS settings.

  • Make note of any error messages your receive. Write down the full message as well as any error numbers. If there is a working computer in your home, search for these errors in Google or on Microsoft's website.

Computers on the Network Can't See Each Other

  • Click the "Start" button in Windows. Select "Programs" and "Control Panel." Double-click on the icon called "System." Click on the tab labeled "Computer Name."

  • Write down the name of your workgroup or domain. Check your computer name. If you have older computers in your home, avoid using characters or spaces in your computer name and keep the name to eight characters or fewer.

  • Right click the "Network Places" icon on your desktop. Click "Properties." On the "General" tab, make sure you have "Client for Microsoft Windows" and "File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks" and "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)" installed. Check the properties of TCP/IP and write them down.

  • Check the other computers in your home. They should have the same workgroup or domain as yours. They must have the Microsoft client and file and print sharing installed under network properties. If your IP address is manually entered, rather than updated automatically through DHCP, all computers should have the same subnet mask and gateway but different IP addresses.

  • Turn off your PC firewall temporarily to make sure it is not blocking internal network traffic.

  • Make sure all network shares are defined. To set up a share, right-click on a folder or printer and click "sharing and security" or "sharing." To share the item so that other computers on your network can see and use it, check the box that says "sharing."

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