Technology

How to fix a sporadic Internet connection

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Q: Our 5-year-old HP desktop PC frequently loses its Comcast Internet connection, and we get the error message “You are not connected to a network.” The outage doesn’t last long, but it often interferes with logging onto a bank or investment website.

The outages began before we got our most recent Comcast-provided modem-router, to which our Windows 7 PC is connected by cable. Another cable goes from the modem router to our basement, where it joins the cable line from our TV before leaving the house. We’ve checked for most routine problems already, and are thinking about resetting our Internet Protocol (IP) address next. What should we do?

Jim and Karon Bachman,

Blaine, Minn.

A: There are two likely causes: Your PC or the way the Comcast cable is installed.

But before pursuing those issues, make sure you’ve tried all the routine fixes for a Comcast cable Internet connection, such as tightening the cables. See tinyurl.com/o4ozz2z.

We can rule out a faulty modem-router as a connection issue, since the problem predates the latest one Comcast supplied to you. And because it’s a long-running problem, I don’t think resetting your IP address will help. Comcast already resets it periodically.

To check for a flaw in your PC, unplug the cable that connects the PC to the modem-router. Then connect the PC to the wireless portion of the router via Wi-Fi. For directions on how to enable Wi-Fi on your PC, see “Use HP Support Assistant network diagnostics” at tinyurl.com/p2lsaz6.

If your Wi-Fi Internet connection is stable, there’s something wrong with the PC’s network card, which controls the wired Internet connection. Ask a repair shop for help.

But, if the wireless Internet connection suffers from the same outages as the wired connection, the problem may originate in the basement, where the Comcast cable splits into its TV and PC branches. If that splitter connection isn’t tight, the splitter is faulty, or the signal branching to your PC is on the borderline of being too weak, your Internet connection could be interrupted. Fixing that would be a job for Comcast.

Q: I have two e-commerce sites from which I receive email. But I’m having trouble sorting my mail because the search function on my Microsoft Outlook 2010 email program isn’t working properly. It can’t search for any emails that have been sent recently. Any ideas?

Thomas Larson,

Buffalo, Minn.

A: This can happen if Windows hasn’t finished indexing the emails for which you’re searching, or if the indexing process hasn’t been set up correctly. To deal with either problem, see tinyurl.com/o8dmnz2. In addition, you can check to see if Outlook has reported any problems in the “Windows Application Log.” You can find the log by pressing the Windows logo key and the R key simultaneously, typing “eventvwr.msc” in the box and clicking OK.

Contact Steve Alexander at Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488-0002; email steve.j.alexander@gmail.com.

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