While connecting to the Internet may seem simple, it can be complicated for someone unfamiliar with the network or type of Internet they are trying to connect to. However, given the influence of the internet, it is important to know how to connect these days. Whether you're using Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or dial-up, connecting to the Internet is a simple task that's important to learn.
Step #1. Make sure the source of Internet is turned on
It may seem obvious, but a common mistake often made when connecting to the Internet is not making sure the source of the Internet is turned on. Especially if you've just set up a router and/or modem, make sure it's turned on and everything is connected properly and there are no lights indicating any problems. Cords can also be disconnected or pulled slightly out of the wall, rendering the operation pointless. Make sure everything is properly connected and working before you start.
Step 2. Understand that most mobile devices can only connect to wireless broadband
Devices such as smartphones, mobile tablets, iPods, portable gaming systems, and so on can usually only connect to Wi-Fi due to its wireless nature. That's why you can't connect a mobile device to Ethernet or a dial-up network. Ethernet and dial-up connections are limited to computers and non-portable gaming devices (not covered in this article).
Step 3. Know which 'path' to follow to get to your network settings
Regardless of the operating system or device you're using, you'll probably need to access your network settings at some point in the process. The process is slightly different for each device, but the general path you need to follow to access your network settings is usually the same, depending on the operating system. Some common devices or operating systems and their paths to the settings are listed below.
- Windows XP: Start –> Control Panel –> Network and Internet Connections
- Windows Vista: Start -> Network -> Network and Sharing Center
- Windows 7: Start -> Control Panel -> Network and Internet
- Windows 8: Start –> Search for 'View Network Connections' –> View Network Connections
- Windows 10: Search for 'View Network Connections' –> View Network Connections
- Mac OS X Jaguar and later: System Preferences -> Network
- Ubuntu and Fedora: Network Manager
- iOS (iPhone, iPad, etc.): Settings -> Wi-Fi
- Android: Settings -> Wi-Fi (or Wireless and networks)
- Windows phone: Settings -> Wifi
Method 1 of 3: Connecting via wireless broadband
Step 1. Make sure that the Wi-Fi connection for your device is turned on
Regardless of the device, it is possible to disable Wi-Fi. Some devices have a physical switch that turns the Wi-Fi on or off, while others only have the option to toggle Wi-Fi in the software settings. Make sure the computer's Wi-Fi function is not turned off before proceeding.
Step 2. Access your device's settings
Navigate to your device's settings and open them, then navigate to the network settings. You can also click the Wi-Fi icon on a computer's toolbar to open a drop-down menu with the names of the connections in the area.
Step #3. Find the name of your Wi-Fi network
Your broadband network router should have the default name written on it. The name of a hotspot network usually appears by default as the name of your mobile device (for example, "[your name]'s iPhone"). Find this name and select it.
Wifi or hotspot names can be changed, but if you've changed your network or hotspot name, you probably know what it is. If you weren't the one who changed it, or you don't know what the name is, ask the person in charge of the network
Step 4. Enter the password for the network or hotspot
Some networks are public, but most are not. If the network you're trying to connect to has a password, you'll be prompted for that password before you can connect to the network. The default password is usually displayed on the router, but if you don't know the password, ask the person in charge of the network.
Some protected public networks may have different passwords per person. For example, a school may allow students to log on to the network with their student ID instead of a single password set
Step 5. Wait for the computer to connect
It often takes a few seconds for a computer to connect to a wireless source, but if the computer is unable to connect to the router, the Wi-Fi connection times out. In that case, move closer to the source or disconnect and then connect your computer to Wi-Fi.
Step 6. Test your internet connection
After connecting to the internet, open a page in your web browser and wait for it to load. Open a reputable website, google.com or isup.me to ensure that the website does not go down as some pages may crash.
Step 7. Troubleshoot if your computer won't connect to the Internet
For some people, Wi-Fi connects without a problem. That is not the case for others. There are many reasons why a computer may not be able to connect to the wireless connection; most computers have built-in software that can distinguish what the problem is. Some common problems are listed below:
- Some older computers cannot connect to the Internet wirelessly. You may need an Ethernet cable to get online.
- If the internet is slow or not connecting, you may be out of range of the router or hotspot. Try to get closer to the source.
- If the network is not listed, you may be out of range or the network may be turned off. Try to get closer or reboot your router.
Method 2 of 3: Connecting with an Ethernet cable
Step 1. Buy an Ethernet cable and all necessary adapters
Many recent devices can connect directly to the router via an Ethernet cable. However, some are not built to do that. For example, laptops often do not have components for using Ethernet. So make sure to get any adapters you need for the Ethernet cable to make sure you can use it.
- Ethernet cables are all different; for example, a Cat-5 or Cat-5e cable runs slower than a Cat-6. However, it also largely depends on the router's connection and how many people will connect to the network at the same time. Unless you're doing very, very intensive uploading work, you probably won't need a Cat-6 cable if you're the only one on the network.
- You cannot connect a mobile device (eg a smartphone) to Ethernet with an adapter.
Step 2. Connect one end of the Ethernet cable to the broadband source
The broadband source is probably a router, but in some cases it could be a modem. In either case, you must connect one end of the Ethernet cable to the broadband source for the computer to connect.
Step 3. Connect the other end of the cable to the computer
Locate the Ethernet connector on your computer and plug it in. This connector is usually located on the back of the computer, where the other components connect.
If your computer does not support Ethernet, make sure the computer is connected to the adapter and then connect the cord through the adapter
Step 4. Access your computer's settings
You need to make sure the computer is set up to recognize ethernet rather than wireless. Most likely, you'll need to disable your wireless connection to make the computer recognize the ethernet connection instead.
Step 5. Test your internet connection
Open a page in a web browser and see if it loads. Some web pages may take longer to load than others, and others sometimes crash, so try loading a reputable website (eg google.com or isup.me) to make sure the connection is active.
Step 6. Troubleshoot if you can't connect
Ethernet is more reliable than Wi-Fi, but that doesn't mean nothing can still go wrong. If you're having problems with the ethernet, it can stem from a lot of issues, but make sure the basics (e.g. the connected router) are established and your computer isn't in trouble.
- Make sure there is no problem with the Ethernet cable (this can range from 'the cord was not fully connected' to 'the cable is defective/broken and needs to be replaced').
- Check if the router has any problems and restart it. If resetting the router doesn't work, but the Ethernet connection between the cord and the computer works fine, contact your ISP.
- Rarely, your computer's Ethernet card can be faulty. In that case, contact the seller of your computer or the manufacturer of the computer.
Method 3 of 3: Connecting a computer via dial-up
Step 1. Understand that dial-up internet is no longer widely supported and it will be very difficult to perform certain activities on the internet with this type of connection
With dial-up internet, you can only be limited to browsing websites that usually contain text and/or images without many add-ons and features. As dial-up Internet has fallen out of use in favor of broadband Internet, it's not common to see instructions for connecting to dial-up Internet anymore. If you're serious about browsing the web, your best bet is to find a Wi-Fi hotspot in a public location. However, in some rural areas, dialing in is still common, which may mean that you may need to connect to it.
Step 2. Make sure you can connect to dial-up
Dial-up internet requires the use of a phone line and can only connect one person per phone at a time. If someone else is already connected and/or the phone line is being used to make a call, you will not be able to connect until the other person disconnects or hangs up. In addition, most new computers don't have the components to connect to dial-up; you may need to purchase an external USB modem for your computer to connect.
Step 3. Connect the modem to the telephone jack
Often places with dial-up internet have two phone lines - one for the telephone and one for the modem. However, if the modem is not used often, it may be disconnected or there may be only one phone line. Make sure that the telephone cable is connected to both the telephone wall jack and the plug on the modem.
Step 4. Connect the modem to the computer
Using another telephone line, plug one end of the second telephone cable into the modem and the other end into the modem jack on the computer (or converter).
Make sure that you do not accidentally connect the telephone cable to the Ethernet plug. The telephone connection to the computer should be noted by a small telephone next to it
Step 5. Access your computer's network settings
You must manually set up the dial-up connection on the computer. From there, configure the modem settings. If this is your first time connecting to the dial-up source, you probably need to configure the modem's network settings. While the process is slightly different for each operating system, you'll need to enter the same information: the dial-in number, a username, and a password. The settings paths to follow to configure the network are:
- On Windows XP: Network and internet connections –> Set up or change your internet connection –> Setup
- On Windows Vista: Network and Sharing Center –> Set up a connection or network –> Create a dial-up connection
- On Windows 7 and 8: Network and Internet -> Network and Sharing Center -> Set up a new connection or network -> Connect to the Internet -> Dial in
- On Windows 10: Network -> Dial-up connection
- On Mac OS X: Network –> Internal / External Modem –> Configuration
- On Ubuntu or Fedora: Network Manager -> Connections -> Modem Connections -> Properties
Step 6. Connect your computer's connection to the modem
If the dial-up settings are already configured, it might be as simple as opening the network settings and connecting to the modem, rather than searching for wireless connections. However, you must enter the number, username and password.
Step 7. Test your internet connection
To make sure your internet connection is working, open a web page and wait for it to load. Dial-up internet is much slower than typical broadband speeds, so don't be surprised if it takes a while. You may want to try loading a text-only web page to increase the loading speed and see if your internet works.
Step 8. Troubleshoot if you can't connect
Although dial-in is no longer widely supported, it is still possible to have issues with it. Make sure that the telephone line is properly connected and that your system can connect to dial-up internet.
- Windows 10 is known to have issues with dial-up connections at times. You may need to use a computer with an older operating system, if available.
- Make sure that you have not accidentally connected the telephone cable to the Ethernet connection. The connection of the telephone cable is smaller and is often indicated with a telephone symbol.
- There are more guides on wikiHow on Wi-Fi connections specific to operating systems, including those for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, and Mac.
- If you use a mobile phone hotspot, you can connect your phone directly to your computer via a USB cable. It's a bit like an Ethernet cable for a hotspot, except for a USB cable and a phone.