Can ping but can’t browse – a reminder to think the problem through before acting

16 03 2010

The computer in question was Windows XP SP3 with IE8 and McAfee. Since the user in question (like most people) hasn’t used a wired connection for so long the problem initially presented itself as a wireless issue. This remote user described the problem to me as he could not connect to wireless – 1st error – unless you can see they are describing the problem correctly never assume the user knows what they are talking about. It ended up being some sort of driver/software conflict

There are so many different variables that I can’t assume (and neither should you) that blindly following a list will get you a result. You need to understand what it usually means if you cannot ping by name but you can ping by IP. With that caveat here are some suggestions to try, let me know if I left something out or if I should order them differently.

  • Verify they are connected to the correct wireless network – if this fails…
    • verify type of network, SSID, encryption and key, etc
      • You can often connect to a network but get nowhere if you have the right key but the wrong type of encryption
  • Verify the device is enabled and has no errors in the device manager
  • Verify (if possible) that others can connect to wireless and the internet
    • if this fails… you need to deal with the router
    • if this succeeds try a wired connection to the router
  • Verify IP address, DNS, default gateway (cmd – then ipconfig/all) – if this fails…
    • ipconfig /release and then ipconfig / renew
    • verify properties of the connection
      • Is it set to use DHCP or manual – whichever is correct in your situation
        • usually the former
      • correct driver?
      • Power settings on adapter?
        • Scroll down to Brian’s answer on this website
      • TCP/IP installed and checked?
  • Verify they can pingĀ  – systematically (either outside in or inside out)
    • Outside in would be something like
      • ping remote address by name – if this fails…
      • ping remote address by IP – if this fails…
      • ping default gateway by IP – if this fails…
      • ping local address by IP – if this fails…
      • ping localhost by IP (127.0.0.1) if this fails..
  • Verify that you can connect wired or wireless by booting into safe mode with networking
    • If so, you probably have a conflict with hardware or software
      • Can you scan for spyware?
      • Check your list of software for security and or antivirus programs that may be causing conflicts
      • Try a system restore (if enabled)
        • if this fails you may have to rebuild the system
    • If not, and with the assumption that you double check all of the above, the system is probably beyond repair

Let me know what you think, and if you have anything to add…