What to do when your
Computer goes Off Line

By: Richard Steele
Oahu Island News

Few problems cause as much frustration and anxiety as not being able to connect to the Internet. It seems that something we never heard of five or six years ago is now an item that we absolutely canít live without. If the sound is not working, we can live with that. If the word processor keeps crashing, we can try it another way. But when we canít get online, thatís a catastrophe. No email. No Yahoo. No news, No sports. No instant messaging. It may seem as though weíre cut off from civilization as we now know it.

Internet connection problems can be classified into two main categories Ė those that are due to the connection or link between your computer and your Internet Service Provider (ISP), and those due to configuration problems on your computer. This column will focus on the configuration issues.

I suggested in a recent column about computer problems that you should start by checking all of the cable connections that provide that vital link to ďCybervilleĒ. If youíre on a dialup or DSL connection, that means checking the phone line connection at the wall, as well as the one at the back of your computer. Physically and firmly push the phone line plugs into the correct sockets. Although they have little tabs that lock these connectors, they often have a way of coming lose.

You must also make sure the phone line is not dead Ė this may seem elementary to many, but it does need to be checked. Plug a regular telephone in to the outlet that normally connects to the computer modem. If thereís no dial tone, itís time to call 611.

For cable connections (Oceanic Road Runner or Earthlink), there are a few things to try before calling the cable company. First, look at the modem; thatís the little box that connects to the cable. The modem should have at least three lights illuminated. If the cable light is not visible or itís flashing, shut down your computer and unplug the modemís power cord. Wait at least one minute before plugging the modem back in to the wall outlet. Many of us are impatient and donít want to wait the whole minute, but trust me, wait the minute.

Plug the cable modemís power cable back in and wait until all of the lights come back on. This may take another minute or so, but again, be patient and wait. If you have a solid cable light on your cable modem, start the computer back up and you should be good to go. If the cable light is still flashing or not lit at all, itís now time to call the cable company.

If youíre disconnected from the Internet and are using a router (common these days when more than one computer shares the internet connection), bypass it for now. The router itself could be the problem, but you wonít know for sure until you remove it from the equation and see if the connection comes back without using the router.

Some of our customers have experienced intermittent problems. These are sometimes the most difficult to resolve. If you have frequent outages, you may suggest to the cable company that they provide a signal amplifier. One customer finally had the problem resolved when the cable company came out and changed the wire that ran from the street to her home.

Richard Steele is owner of Easy Computer, a training, repair, upgrade, and new computer store located at 1649 Kalakaua Avenue, 942-3999.