From the Kenosha News on 10-21-07

Re-booting can fix a host of problems

      It’s become an old joke about computer support:  The first thing they say is “turn it off and turn it back on again.”  Actually, that’s pretty good advice for lots of problems, including internet connectivity.

      Recently, a user at work and a reader both contacted me with similar problems.  The reader writes, “We recently purchased a laptop with Vista. We also have an older computer with Windows XP. We are using Time Warner Roadrunner with our older system. Not a wireless router. Is there any way to connect the laptop (only when needed) to the internet? I have an Ethernet cable, but the laptop doesn’t seem to read it? What is my next step? Does it have to be a wireless connection?”   The caller also had a problem with their Time Warner connection that had stopped working.  Here’s the solution to both problems.

      Internet connections like cable and DSL use a cable or DSL modem that is then connected either directly to the computer or to a router and then a computer.  Whenever a change is made – like connecting a different computer – or something stops working, here are the steps to try: 

  1. Power everything down: the “old” computer, the cable modem, and the new computer.   If you have a router, power it off as well.
  2.  Plug the new computer’s Ethernet cable into the cable modem.  If you have a router, plug the new computer into the router, which should be plugged in to the cable modem already.
  3. Turn on the cable or DSL modem.  (Always start with the device “closest to the wall” – the one that is plugged in to the phone line or cable TV jack on the wall.)  Wait for the blinking lights on the cable/DSL modem.
  4. If you have a router, power it on and wait for the blinking lights.
  5. Power on the new computer.

      Re-booting can solve other problems as well.  Restarting a computer can free up memory that the computer thinks is in use but isn’t.  Restarting will also reset your network connections and do a variety of other “resets” that can fix problems.  It is advisable to SHUT DOWN and power off the computer – not just restart.  You may even want to wait at least 10 seconds before turning the computer back on.  If you have a desktop computer with a separate monitor, turning off the monitor is not necessary.

      In some cases, it may be more difficult than you think to shut down.  You should generally avoid turning your computer off by unplugging or using the on/off switch; always try to shut it down properly through the Start menu or the appropriate menu.  Sometimes, however, things just freeze up, and you have no choice but to “power down manually.”  Many computers have on/off switches with a “time delay.”  That is, you must press and hold the switch for 5-10 seconds before it will power off.  On a laptop, if the on/off switch won’t work, unplugging won’t be effective, because it will operate on battery power.  Removing the battery and unplugging may be necessary to truly shut a laptop down.

by Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 10-21-07