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Why Is My Internet Not Working?

Mark Lukehart

man using a computer

Malfunctioning internet is not only frustrating, but it also inhibits your ability to work, study, communicate with friends and family, and more. We rely on the internet for so many aspects of our lives these days, so when the internet isn’t working, it has a huge effect on your daily routine. 

There are many reasons why your internet might not be working, and some of them are simple to fix on your own. Others will need to be fixed with assistance from your internet service provider. Once you determine why your internet isn’t working, you’ll be able to take steps to get back online. Here are some reasons why your internet isn’t working and ways to restore it. 

Key Takeaways

  • Connection failures are caused by a variety of things, ranging from broken devices and routers to local internet outages. 
  • Resetting your router and your computer’s WiFi connection can sometimes address simple outages. 
  • Network diagnostic tools on your device will help you troubleshoot more complex outages, but you may need to contact your ISP for assistance. 

Check Your Connections

The first step to restoring your internet is to check your connection. Look for the WiFi symbol on your device. The location of this symbol varies depending on the device you’re using but is typically in the task bar along the top (Mac) or bottom (Windows) of your screen or under a “Settings” tab. This will help you figure out whether the outage is an issue with your device or an issue with the network. Some devices even have troubleshooting features that can identify and fix the problem for you. 

Make sure you are connected to the correct network and that the password has been entered properly. Turn off airplane mode and adjust any other settings that could be interfering with your internet. If you are using public WiFi, you may need to navigate to a login page in your browser before you can access the internet. If your device is showing a connection but websites aren’t loading properly, this is an issue with the network rather than your device.

You’ll also want to check your computer’s location relative to the router. You may be too far away from the router to connect. If you are connected to the internet via an ethernet cable, check to make sure the cable isn’t damaged and that it is plugged in properly. 

Restart Your Router

“Did you try turning it off and turning it back on again?” You’ve probably heard this advice before, and while it may sound simplistic, sometimes restarting the router is the easiest way to get your WiFi up and running again. In many cases, the problem will fix itself during a reboot. To restart the router, unplug the power cable and leave it unplugged for at least 30 seconds. When you plug it back in, make sure that the WiFi is switched on. 

If you’re still having issues with your router, check the lights on the side of the device. These lights are typically a bright white or green color. If the lights are red, flashing, or off, it is indicative of an issue with your router. Check your owner’s manual to see what each light represents—you may be able to use this information to troubleshoot the problem. If the lights won’t turn on at all, you may have a damaged router or a damaged outlet. Try moving your router to a different outlet or power strip. 

See If There Is A Local Outage

If your internet is out and you aren’t sure why, you might not be the only one experiencing this problem. Providers occasionally suffer from local internet outages that affect all users in a certain radius. 

These outages can happen for a variety of reasons. These include: 

  • Local infrastructure damage: If internet cables in your town are damaged, it can result in a loss of access for entire neighborhoods until the problem is resolved. 
  • Preventative maintenance: Providers also conduct regular preventative maintenance on their networks to avoid future breakdowns. This maintenance often requires them to temporarily shut off service in the area. Most providers will choose to do this during off-peak hours and will inform you of it ahead of time. 
  • Inclement weather: Heavy storms or natural disasters can interfere with your area’s internet connection. 
  • High traffic volume: While it is rare, your internet connection could shut down if your provider is experiencing unusually high volumes of traffic. 

Ask a neighbor or friend in the area if their internet is working. If they are also struggling with their connection, there’s likely a local outage. If this is the case, the best strategy is just to wait for your provider to fix the issue. Calling them directly is the best way to get status updates and figure out what is going on. 

Run Your Network Diagnostic Tool

If you still aren’t sure why your internet isn’t working, the next step is to use a diagnostic tool on the device you are using. Take this step if your router appears to be working properly and you’re getting a full WiFi signal, but webpages aren’t loading properly. 

How To Run The Windows Diagnostic Tool

Running the Windows diagnostic tool is fairly straightforward. Here’s how to find it on a Windows 11 system. 

  • Go to the “Start” menu in the bottom left corner of your screen or press the Windows key on your keyboard to open it up. 
  • Select “Settings,” then “System,” then “Troubleshoot.” 
  • Within the Troubleshooting menu, select “Other Troubleshooters.”
  • From there, select “Internet Connections” and click “Run.” 
  • This will bring up the Windows diagnostic troubleshooter which will run tests on your system. This may take a few seconds. 
  • From there, answer the prompts about the problem you are trying to fix and perform the actions listed on screen if necessary. 

In many cases, the Windows network diagnostic tool will be able to fix your internet connection with minimal input from you. 

Note that the process for finding the Windows diagnostic tool may vary slightly depending on which version of Windows you are running. For example, on Windows 10, you’ll need to use the Control Panel to find the network troubleshooter. However, the diagnostic tool ultimately performs the same functions regardless of which version you are using. 

If the network diagnostic tool doesn’t provide a solution, consider performing a network reset. This can also be launched from the Troubleshooting menu. A network reset will restart your computer and reset all of the networking components in your computer to their original settings. This could fix any problems caused by a VPN or other custom network settings on your computer. However, you will need to completely reset the network features on your computer from scratch, so be sure to keep this in mind before deciding on a network reset. 

How To Run Apple Diagnostics

Apple computers also have network diagnostic tools, although they work differently from those on Windows devices. The process of running network diagnostics on an Apple device is relatively simple. 

  • Start by quitting all apps currently open on your computer. 
  • Open the WiFi network in the top right corner of your screen and attempt to join your desired network. 
  • Hold the “Option” key on your keyboard and click on the WiFi icon again. You will see a longer drop-down menu. From this menu, select “Open Wireless Diagnostics.” 
  • From there, your computer will automatically perform internal tests to find problems with your network connection. You do not need to do anything during this analysis, but it may take a few minutes to complete. 
  • After the diagnostic is complete, you will get a full summary of potential network issues. You can click on each issue to learn more and get information about possible solutions. 

While the Apple diagnostic tool is not a failsafe, it can help you identify and fix connectivity issues that you wouldn’t have found on your own. Many internet connectivity issues happen as a result of internal system issues that aren’t obvious on the surface. 

Clear The DNS Cache

If you’ve tried all of the steps above and still can’t figure out why your internet isn’t working, try clearing the DNS cache. DNS stands for domain name system. This system is used across the internet to connect domain names with their online entities. 

The DNS cache is a storage space on your computer or mobile device that keeps a temporary record of previous DNS lookups or website visits. This helps your web browser load these pages quickly when you visit them again. 

DNS caches clear on their own on a regular basis. However, if you’re having trouble connecting to the internet, clearing the cache manually can help. This is because a full DNS cache can slow down your internet connection. Clearing your DNS cache is a fairly quick and simple process that you can do in just a few steps.

How to Clear The DNS Cache on Windows Devices

The process of clearing the DNS on a Windows 10 or 11 system is fairly simple. Press the Windows key and R key at the same time to bring up the Run menu. Then, enter “ipconfig/flushdns” and hit enter to clear the cache. You can also do this by navigating to “Command Prompt” from the Start menu and entering the same command. 

You can also clear your cache through web browsers like Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome. When you open your web browser, type “edge://net-internals/#dns” in the address bar for Microsoft Edge or “chrome://net-internals/#dns” for Google Chrome. 

How to Clear The DNS Cache on Mac Devices

Flushing the DNS cache on a Mac uses a slightly more complicated code but only takes a few minutes. Start by pressing Command and Space at the same time to bring up SpotLight Search. From there, search for and open the Terminal app. 

Once the Terminal app is open, enter the following code: 

sudo dscacheutil -flushcache; sudo killall -HUP mDNSresponder

Then, you will be prompted to enter your computer password. Type in your password and hit enter to clear the cache. Note that you won’t see your password’s characters on screen as you’re typing. 

Note that this code is for MacOS Monterey, which is the latest version of the operating system. Codes for previous MacOS versions vary slightly. You can also clear the cache on Google Chrome using the same code as Microsoft Windows. 

How to Clear The DNS Cache on a Smartphone

You can also clear the DNS cache on your smartphone. To do this on an Android, start by going to your settings, selecting the applications menu, and then click on your web browser. Then, click on “Storage” and then “Clear Cache.” 

The easiest way to clear your cache on an iOS smartphone is to either toggle Airplane Mode on and off or to restart the phone altogether. iOS phones will automatically clear the DNS cache when either of these actions happen. 

Contact Your Internet Service Provider

If you’ve tried everything on this list and your internet still isn’t working, it’s time to contact your internet service provider. They can provide more detailed and personalized advice to get your connection up and running again. In some cases, a technician will need to come to your home or office to fix your internet connection. 

Final Thoughts

A broken internet connection can be frustrating, but with some simple troubleshooting, you can get things back up and running again. With diagnostic tests available on the latest devices, you may even be able to fix the connection on your own without having to contact your ISP. 


What are the different types of connections? 

The types of internet connections available include WiFi, broadband, DSL, satellite, and dial-up. WiFi and broadband connections are very popular due to their convenience and high speeds, while dial-up has fallen out of favor in most places. 

How can you test for internet speed? 

There are plenty of apps and websites you can use to run an internet speed test. Google has their own speed test feature that’s easy to use in just one click. 

How much internet speed does a person need? 

The right internet speed for you will depend on what you are using the internet for. If you’re planning on streaming video, playing video games, or using several different devices at once, you’ll need more speed than just casual internet browsing. Recommended speeds range from 25 MBPS for one device to more than 200 for several devices. Gigabit plans will result in the fastest speeds.