Ok, if you know about as much as I do about PCs, don’t bother reading any further. I am about to ask for help with a computer problem because I don’t even know where I should be going for help on this (and I am living in a house full of Mac users…)

The other night I closed down my PC, everything working just fine. Opened it up in the morning to find that – although I could get my usual connection through the LAN line – I couldn’t connect to the server. But then, neither could the other wifi users in the house usibng the same account. We were all without a working server for at least 7 or 8 hours. Then the server solved its problem for everybody else – but not me. Other people can use exactly the same LAN connection, no problem. But my computer just tells me “Cannot connect to server”. I can’t get to the internet using Firefox, or Internet Explorer, or Outlook Express. I can, however, Skype, and Microsoft happily downloaded the latest update patch.

I tried disabling all firewalls and virus protection, still no joy. I uninstalled or disabled the latest downloads. Still won’t work.

What the x#@!! is going on?


Help! — 19 Comments

  1. that’s an error message I saw a lot at uni. Things that seemed to solve it were rebooting and/or reentering the security number thingy in no particular order. If that doesn’t work, I’d suggest removing all memory of the connection from your computer (I think there’s somewhere in internet options) and reconnecting to it again from scratch. Otherwise I don’t know 🙁

    Disclaimer: Please note I’m not a computer expert at all, just someone who’s been near crying from that error message a few times 🙂

  2. my boyfriend says:

    did you try to connect with a link to you wifi rooter if it’s working ?

    did you ‘repare’ you connection ?
    for it’s may try to get a new ip ?

    When you repare : does the pc tell you ‘unable to connect’ or something else ?

    did you stop, disconnect (important so the rooter is forgetting the actual ip and might be able to give you a new one) the Wifi rooter count to ten and reconnecting everything?

    when you watch ‘all the connexion’ do you see your wifi named one ?
    you might then try to watch properties and try repare, to get an automatic new ip.
    you might neeed you codes for the wifi rooter which is allowing you to connect to your wifi.

    did you check in your firewalls green list if you have all the authorizations ?

    don’t know what to ask for more right now ^^

  3. my boy friend adding: you should be able to solve the probleme with your virus protection, and also your fire wall, don’t get them off, unless you don’t have any other solutions ^^

  4. When I get this the first thing I do is what another friend calls teh car window solution. It looks like the equiivalent of winding a car window up and down to fix an ignition key that looks as if it won’t turn: 9/10 it works.

    I turn everything off, including the larger internet connection. Not just my computer, but everything in the house that is even vaguely linked with it. Nothing on. Anywhere. I go away and have a cup of tea. The timing is important – if I just turn things off and on again, caches don’t empty and you replicate the problem. Then I turn things on, one at a time, saying nice things. When it magically works, I have another cuppa, just because I can. (the making sure the modem and no other machine aspect has no memory of a tangled code is probably the crucial bit, but I’m willing to swear that every bit of machine linked to any computer in the house being down while I get a nice cuppa is key to my sanity)

  5. Thankyou everyone. The problem continues.

    Inkpaws…tried that.
    Gynie…I am not actually trying to connect to the web or use wifi. I can’t connect to the wifi because I can’t get my laptop configured with the right network key, or something.

    i actually am connected to the internet, through a broadband connection, that’s not the problem. The problem is that when I try to open any webpage, I get told “Modzilla cannot find the server”. Internet Explorer can’t find the server either. Neither can Outlook Express. I can use Skype.

    I have indeed tried disconnecting everything, rebooting, turning off overnight etc etc. Although I must admit, Gillian’s recommendation of having a cup of tea was a very good idea which I followed to the letter. Didn’t work, but I felt better! (maybe I failed because I was swearing rather than saying nice things?)

    Gynie, do thank your boyfriend.

  6. Can your ISP not help you? From my experience, when this kind of thing happens, its because the computer has stopped talking to the ISP and usually needs re-setting. The ISP should be able to help you do this.

  7. Hi Glenda,

    I’m a Mac user myself, but I’ll still raise a few observations that might lead to a solution.

    First of all re-establish your protections, otherwise you run the risk of compounding your problems.

    It sounds to me like your PC has an incorrect DNS setting. Your friends should be able to tell you what this should be from their ISP’s website and if what is recorded in your PC’s setting look nothing like what they have then I suspect you have run afoul of their ISP trying to tighten security and force people to use all their hosting facilities.

    Record your old setting (for use in other places) and then put in the new setting and after saving these settings. Restart your machine and see if the problem is solved.

    Hope this helps.


  8. To check if DNS is working …

    Click on Start, then Run and type “cmd” in the box and click on OK.

    This starts up a command line interface …

    Type “ping” and press return.

    If you get replies, then your IP connection is fine (which is likely if you can Skype).

    Now try “ping” – which will test if DNS is working, which we suspect is not the case.

    If it isn’t, then I think that there’s something dodgy about your PC’s DNS settings, which we can check with “ipconfig /all”.

    Your gateway, DHCP and DNS servers are normally the same address, but I think Macs do things differently and so it’s possible that someone has set up your PC’s DNS settings manually with Malay addresses, which it can’t find now.

    Khaldan (using Ru’s PC)

  9. For what it’s worth, the symptoms match a DNS problem, which Khaldan described how to diagnose (very nicely!).

    (DNS is the service used to translate a domain name (e.g., into an IP address, which any computer connected to the Internet really needs to communicate.)

    Google for “configure DNS XP” for lots of examples. This one isn’t too bad.

    Your ISP should provide a support page that tells you how to configure this. Usually, it is set to “Obtain DNS server address automatically”, but sometimes an ISP requires it to be explicitly supplied.

  10. I dunno. I think from what I can see (thanks to what Khaldan, Phill and Jason have said), that my problem is that the ISP refused to give me an IP address (after allowing me to bestow me one beginning with 169., which cannot be used to access the internet. Is that possible? I have no idea what my original IP was.

    Diagnostics tell me there is a problem with my IP, but don’t tell what to change it to.

    Ok, I am now off to check the IPS webpage. Can anyone tell me whatever possessed the IPS to call themselves AirPort? Were they insane? Try googling that…

    thanks you guys,,,you are great.

  11. Glenda, is your laptop directly connected to your broadband (via its own ADSL or cable modem), or is it connected to a router/modem?

    An IP address starting with 169 is strictly used for local networks, which are allocated by your router/modem (using a protocol called DHCP). Your ISP shouldn’t have anything to do with that part, as it has no knowledge of what happens behind your router/modem (as far as it’s concerned, the only IP endpoint that exists is the one offered by your router/modem).

    Since you can use Skype, it would seem that IP connectivity is working fine (and thus your allocated IP address should also be okay). DNS is still the most likely culprit.

  12. Airport is the Apple Wi-Fi router.

    If Windows XP is set up to use DHCP to allocate addresses but the router won’t give it one, then Windows will allocate a 169.254.x.x address in desperation.

    So – the Wi-Fi router isn’t giving you a DHCP address – and we’re getting somewhere!

    If you were using Mac OS, Apple suggest disabling and re-enabling the network or restarting the router.

    Some grossly insulting questions are now going to follow (you can tell I’ve done IT support) …

    1. Is WiFi turned on on the laptop?

    If there’s a light for the WiFi, what colour is it at the moment?

    Oh, and what laptop have you got?

    2. Did you have to put in a WEP or WPA key when originally connecting in over WiFi?

    If yes, then try getting your laptop to rescan for networks or (should be in the Control Panel, under Networks) – this should prompt you for the network key again.

    3. Try going into the command line and running “ipconfig /renew” – this will fire out DHCP requests.

    Support is so tough without being able to walk up to the offending machine!

  13. Maybe if the macs are working fine, we need to look at their settings …

    Can you compare their settings with your Windows ones? looks like the best way.

    It would be even better if you could take pictures of the screens – email them to me or Ru (you should be able to use PrintScreen and paste them into Paint, save them to a USB drive, put them on the Mac and then email them).

  14. If your ISP is Streamyx/TM, on their help page (under “Cannot browse”) it states the DNS settings should be:

    # Primary DNS:
    # Secondary DNS:

    Can you confirm that’s what you’ve got configured? If that’s not the right provider, then please ignore. 🙂

  15. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Can’t believe this. I decided I would try one more time to get it to automatically give me an IP address and DNS address – and it calmly did so, as if it had never given me a problem in its life.

    I dunno why, and at this stage I don’t care!

    Thank you all you good people. YOu are GREAT.

  16. It is indeed, Jo. Some of my closest friends were made through the internet, but even more wonderful is how often complete strangers will come to one’s aid.

    For the tech folk: the problem started with the server going down for a couple of hours, and the same thing happened just before it was fixed – the server was down.

  17. This makes me even less inclined to get a mac. (No, I know your laptop ain’t a mac, glenda, but…)

    So glad you got it sorted now. They are good helpful lads, aren’t they? 🙂

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