There are many possible causes of connection problems. This guide will show how you can investigate problems using some simple tools that come with most versions of Windows. To use all of the tools though, you will need Windows Vista or XP.
The tools in this guide can be accessed from the command prompt. While this can look a little intimidating, it is simple to use with a little bit of know-how.
This guide assumes that you have checked and confirmed that your connection settings are correct. Broadband customers should first check our General Broadband Setup Guide.
Does your PC have a network connection?
Check the sockets. Most sockets have a connection light.
Check your network settings
If your connection is still broken, you need to check your network settings. Read our Guide to Broadband Networking.
To use the network tools described in this article you need to open a command line window. Command line looks like the old DOS environment, and is used through typed commands rather than with a graphical interface. To open a command line:
Although you can run these tools by typing them directly into the Run prompt, as soon as the command has finished, the window will close which will stop you from seeing the results. Always open a command line window first before starting the tool.
Saving results to Notepad
If you need to send results of your tests to the support team for further investigation, you can do so by copying them from the command line window, into Notepad or another text editor.
To copy test results
Ping sends packets of data to another computer and measures how long it takes to get there. Ping results can tell you that:
To use Ping
Ping sends four packets and gives you an average for the time it takes for the ping to make it round
|Ping request could not find host...||Check your destination address.|
|Reply from...||Destination is responding.|
|Request timed out...||Destination not responding.|
Ping sends four packets of data, which isn't very good at showing problems that are intermittent. A continuous Ping can be useful if you think there might be a problem with cables, as you can see exactly when connection problems are occurring.
To use Continuous Ping
Is an enhanced form of ping that provides some of the information you would gain from using the trace route tool. It is most useful for identifying where a connection problems is occurring.
Watch our video tutorial - Running A Ping Or Tracert to Diagnose Problems
5. Traceroute - "How does my data reach its destination?"
Trace route shows you the route your data packets are taking to reach a destination system. Trace route results can show:
Trace route Responses
|Unable to resolve target system...||Check your destination address.|
|Trace complete...||Trace route worked.|
|Request timed out...||Destination not responding.|
|Destination network unreachable...*||Indicates a network problem.|
*Destination network unreachable - this means that a device that the you are sending data to is not responding, it my down, or there might be a network fault. This type of problem is usually outside Plusnet's control.
DNS (Domain Name System) turns your user-friendly web addresses into the numerical IP addresses that are used by computer systems. If you have a working connection, but can't view popular websites like BBC or Google, then faulty DNS settings may be the cause.
Flush DNS Cache
The first thing you should do is remove the saved DNS information in your computer, this may now be out of date.
To Flush your DNS Cache
DNS lookups You can test to see if your DNS is working properly by doing a DNS lookup, using the command line tool nslookup.
To do a DNS Lookup
Netstat tells you what your computer is connected. This makes if useful for seeing if your computer is connected to servers that you don't know about. If you think that your computer is infected with "Spyware" or certain types of virus Netstat may help you find them out.
To run Netstat
Different programs and processes may connect to remote computers. In most cases there's nothing to worry about. The two things to look for are the numbers after the colon (port numbers), and the Foreign Addresses.
Ports are the doorways that different computer programs use to send data over a network. For example, browser traffic uses Port 80, email uses ports 25 and port 110. View a full list of official port numbers
If you are worried that your system has been infected with a Trojan, or similar virus, you may be able to spot the connection it uses. The port numbers that are associated with Spyware and Trojans are changing all the time - its always best to make sure you have updated anti-virus and firewall software running on your computer.
Foreign addresses are the systems that are connected to your computer that appear to be remote. While it can be hard to know what to look for, one solution is to run netstat while no programs are running and save the results to compare later.
Telnet is a program that allows you to access and use other computers remotely. It has lots of uses for testing problems because it can let you manually test Internet services as if you were a browser or email program. You can then see if a problem you have is due to the service or your computer setup. You can use telnet to confirm that a service like email is accepting connections.
A better telnet program, called Putty is available to download for free - Download Putty telnet client.
Problem receiving email - test your mailbox
Problem sending email - test you access to our mail relay server
Netshell is a tool that allows you to check that Windows is properly setup for networking. It can test many different aspects of your network connection, depending on what you have got setup on your system.
To use Netshell
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