The other day I had a call from Mum and Dad… or I called them, I can’t remember.
And after we’d chatted about family and Christmas and so on, it came:
“Tim” in the voice that tells me a computer related question is coming…
It turned out Mum had been using her PC when it had suddenly lost the internet connection. In fact it hadn’t just lost the connection to the outside internet – it had lost it’s wifi connection to the router (the device that plugs into the wall and sends out the wifi signal) they have.
Other devices in the house were still fine (which is why we could Skype on Dad’s tablet) so it wasn’t the cable to the house.
She’d left it for a while but with no luck – and even tried turning it off and on again with still no luck.
She had got an error message come up, saying that it had an IP address error.
Well, I gave her a couple of things to try that had a good chance of sorting it out – and heard back the next day that the first one had worked.
And it occurred to me that losing the internet isn’t unusual – and most of the time one of the same two things will sort it.
In fact for most versions of Windows, Mum’s approach of turning it off and on again is absolutely right. For versions of Windows before Windows 10, this will often sort it. Same if you have a tablet – make sure you turn it off fully, not just put it into sleep mode and wake it up again. Most of the time, that’s all you need to do.
But in Windows 10, it actually does a more complete shut down and restart if you choose restart from the start menu instead of turn off, then waiting and turning it on again. It’s the other way round from older versions.
So since Mum has Windows 10, I got her to choose restart instead of turning it off and on again. And that sorted it.
I said there were two things to try – that’s the first.
The second is to turn the router itself off. First you want the computer, tablet or whatever turned off, then turn the router off. Wait 5 minutes or so for the memory to completely clear, then turn it on again. Again, wait five minutes for it to finish turning on, then turn on the PC, tablet or whatever.
Most of the time, that’ll solve it.
If you’re interested, usually this happens because the router gives an “IP address” to each device and sometimes it gets confused and either gives the same one to two devices or forgets what address it gave one device. Restarting it makes it give them out again.
A tip if you buy one of the “online media services”
TV – it’s changed a lot. Not only do we get digital TV through aerials now, but you can catch up with what you missed online, using iPlayer, ITVplayer and the others.
And there are also services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and so on which have totally separate TV that you watch over the internet. You have to pay, but compared to the cost of normal terrestrial TV, it’s good value. And I suspect this is the way TV will go in the future.
But if you have bought one of these packages, there’s something to check. Because with some of them, you don’t just get the TV programmes.
I don’t think this applies to Netflix but with Amazon Prime, you get a bundle of different things included as part of your membership. As well as the TV there’s free delivery on most orders from Amazon, there’s a huge variety of music you can listen to included (including several Christmas “playlists”, I’ve discovered…) and if you have a Kindle you can also “borrow” books to your Kindle, included.
And yet when you join they don’t give you a straightforward list of “These are the things you get as a member”.
I’m not trying to talk people into signing up for Amazon Prime, just saying that if you are a member, it might be worth checking what’s included. You might find there’s something you didn’t know about that you’d really like to make use of.