Unable to browse the Internet despite correct modem lights

The lights on your modem look exactly as they should, but your Internet connection doesn't work. What could be the problem?

To troubleshoot, do the following:

  1. Confirm you've got the lights right. It's easy to misjudge which light means what on your modem. Read "What to do when the modem lights aren't the right color" for an explanation of what the lights on your modem should look like.
  2. Restart your computer and/or modem. This is such a simple troubleshooting step that it's easy to forget, but wow, it solves a lot of problems.

    To restart your computer, simply power it down and then bring it back up.

    To restart your modem, use the ON/OFF switch. If your modem doesn't have an ON/OFF switch, unplug the power cord from the back of the modem. (You'll know you unplugged the correct cord if all the modem lights go OFF.) Wait 30 seconds, and then plug the power cord back into the modem. In about 3 to 5 minutes, the wireless indicator light should start flickering green, and should have Internet connectivity.

  3. RESETTING your modem

    Sometimes simply turning the modem ON/OFF isn't enough. In those cases, a RESET can be helpful.

    For step-by-step instructions, read "Modem RESET: Understanding what it does and when to use it." Be sure you read the article before resetting your modem. You don't want to accidentally erase network information you need, and doing a reset clears out any custom settings you have programmed into your device including: static IP entries, DNS, customized admin password, customized wireless settings, port forwarding, routing and DHCP settings.

    Note: If you were using custom settings and recently reset your modem to its factory defaults, your custom network name (SSID), password (KEY or PASSPHRASE) and other data will not work because that information has been erased. You will need to use the factory defaults or create new custom settings. (The factory default information is usually on a sticker on the bottom of the device.) 


  4. Confirm your cords are installed correctly and undamaged. In particular, focus on:
    • Power cord -- It's surprisingly common for people to use the wrong power cord. They'll use a cord for an old modem or their stereo speakers, and while the cord might fit, the voltage and/or amperage isn't correct so the modem won't work.
    • DSL line -- Lines can be damaged, not designed for your modem and/or plugged in wrong. For example, it's easy to crush a cord by rolling over it in your chair or pinching it in a door. Be sure to check your DSL line for signs of damage.

      Use the DSL line that came with your modem because it's specifically designed for your device. In fact, if you need a long cord -- instead of using a 50-foot phone line which may (or may not) work -- set up wireless networking in your home or use a long Ethernet cable.

      Finally, confirm that your line is installed correctly. The phone line that runs between the wall jack and the modem should go into the modem port labeled DSL or LINE (label varies by modem). The PHONE port on the modem is intended for telephone devices only.
    • Ethernet cable -- All the cords and cables can be confusing, and it's easy to get the wrong things connected. To figure out if you've got it right, start with the basics ... Connect only your computer (no router, no game station) to the modem using the Ethernet cable. If that works, you know you have connection, and there's a problem with the rest of the setup.

      Tip: It's not uncommon for people to plug BOTH ends of the Ethernet cable into the modem. Unfortunately, that doesn't work. You need to connect ONE end of the Ethernet cable to your modem and plug the other end into your computer.


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