Home Networking Self-Help

This is a self-help document for home networking. The Help Desk does not provide phone support for home networking but this page provides basic troubleshooting steps and information on how and where users can receive additional help.
Self Help
NOTE: These products are not supported by the Help Desk. This document is provided for self help purposes only. Please contact the manufacturer or system developer for help.


Power Cycling

If your connection has worked in the past but recently stopped working, try power cycling or restarting the modem and/or router. This is especially important if you have just made a change to your network. Simply unplug the power cord for the device, wait a few seconds, and plug it back in. It may take several seconds for the device to restart and restore connectivity.

Note: Many broadband modems have lights to indicate proper operation. You should contact your internet service provider after power cycling the modem if any of the following lights remain off: send, receive, internet, or DSL.


When troubleshooting a wireless connection, begin by making sure your computer is connecting to the proper network. With the popularity of home networks growing, your computer may be getting signals from other wireless networks.

  • Windows Vista, 7
    Move the mouse pointer over the network icon in the lower right-hand corner of the screen to see connected networks.
Vista Network icon
  • Windows 8, 10
    Move the mouse to the network icon and click on it, it will show the name of the current network.
  • Windows XP
    Right-click the wireless icon in the lower right-hand corner of the screen and choose View Available Wireless Networks.
XP Wireless Network Connection icon

If Windows is not configuring the wireless connection, use the software provided by the manufacturer of the wireless card. There may be an icon in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

  • Windows 98/Me/2000
    Use the software provided by the manufacturer of the wireless card to check the connection status. There may be an icon in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.
  • Mac OS X
    When using an AirPort compatible wireless card, click the AirPort icon in the menu bar.
AirPort menu

A check mark will appear next to the name of the connected network. When using a wireless adapter that is not AirPort compatible, use the software provided by the manufacturer. There may be an icon in the menu bar.

IP Address

When properly connected, each computer on the network should have a valid IP address. Follow these instructions to check your computer's IP address:
  • Windows XP, Vista, 7
    Go to the Start menu and select Run. In the Run window, type command and press enter. In the command window that opens, type ipconfig and press enter.

    Note:Windows XP and Vista identify wired connections as "Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection" and wireless connections as "Ethernet adapter Wireless Network Connection" or "Wireless LAN adapter Wireless Network Connection". Other versions of windows may not distinguish between different types of connections. Look for the "IP Address" or "IPv4 Address" of the connection you are troubleshooting.

    ipconfig command results
  • Windows 8, 10
    Navigate to the Start screen by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard. Type cmd and then hit enter. In the command window that opens, type ipconfig and press enter.

  • Mac OS X
    From the Apple menu, open System Preferences and select Network. Choose the appropriate adapter (usually Built-in Ethernet or AirPort) from the Show menu. Click the TCP/IP tab to see the IP address.
Network in System 

If your network includes a router, it also needs a valid IP address. Consult the router manual (sometimes included on a CD-ROM) or the manufacturer's web site for information on checking the router's IP address.

Computers connected through a router (including most home wireless networks) should receive IP addresses in the range 192.168.x.x or 10.x.x.x. Computers and routers connected directly to a cable or DSL modem should have an IP address outside these ranges. Some broadband modems have built-in routers and issue IP addresses in one of the router ranges. If a computer's IP address is 169.254.x.x,, or it has no IP address, there is a problem with the connection. This could be a problem with the computer or the network. If multiple computers are affected, troubleshoot the network. If a router has no IP address, the problem may be the router but it is more likely to be a problem with the broadband connection.

Hardware Reset

For router problems that are not solved by power cycling or when you have made a change to the router's configuration and can no longer connect, you may be able to reset the router to the factory settings. Most routers include a reset button, usually on the back, which must be held for several seconds while the router is on. Consult your router's manual for additional details.

Connect Directly to the Modem

If you are having trouble with all computers connected to a router, try bypassing the router and connecting a single computer directly to the modem to determine whether the modem or the router is the cause of the problem. The modem should be power cycled after doing this. If a computer still cannot get online while connected directly to the modem, contact your internet service provider.

Securing Wireless Networks

If you setup your own wireless network, you should take steps to ensure that unauthorized users are not able to connect to it. There are three basic ways to secure wireless networks and they can be used alone or in combination with each other:

  1. Disable SSID broadcast. This makes it more difficult to detect the presence of the network because it will not appear in a list of available networks. To connect to a wireless network once SSID broadcast is disabled, you must enter the exact name of the network.
  2. Use MAC address filtering. Each wireless card has a unique identifier known as a MAC address or physical address. Many routers can be configured to only allow connections from specific MAC addresses. The MAC address for each computer you wish to use must be entered into the router's access list.
  3. Enable encryption (WEP or WPA). Encryption requires a key or password for computers to connect wirelessly. WPA is more secure than WEP but it is not compatible with all wireless products.

Of the three security types, encryption is the most effective single method. Consult the support web site for your wireless product for information about securing your network.

Additional Information

For manuals, software, and troubleshooting or configuration information for routers and wireless cards, consult the support pages provided by the manufacturer. These are some popular brands:

If you believe there is a problem with your broadband connection and not your home network, contact your internet service provider. These are some Madison area broadband providers:

Keywordswireless home network networking self help security cable dsl router manuals wifi selfhelpdisclaimer   Doc ID4251
OwnerJeff W.GroupDoIT Help Desk
Created2005-12-07 19:00:00Updated2016-06-02 14:40:43
SitesDoIT Help Desk, Systems & Network Control Center
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