Can't access most websites

My computer is having trouble accessing most websites. It’s an HP Pavilion 15 notebook running Windows 8. The only websites I seem to be able to access are Wikipedia and archive.org. Every other website I try time out, including other .org addresses. I’ve tried using two different browsers with the exact same results. The computer’s anti-virus definitions are up to date and I just scanned it with nothing bad found. Other devices on the same network (like this one) are completely unaffected. I can use the computer to log into my office’s email and virtual machine through a dedicated client. Microsoft’s network diagnostic doesn’t find the problem. It is connected to the WiFi and says it has internet access. Any ideas?

The first thing I would try would be connecting it directly to the router with an ethernet cord. If the problem is solved, you know it’s an issue with the wireless connection. If it still doesn’t work, try connecting to a different network - take it home, or to a Starbucks and try the wifi there. That’ll tell you if the problem is with the computer or with the network you’re using.

Thanks NintbAcolyte. I’ll try that but I have to dig up a cable. It would surprise me though because the WiFi connection can deliver every website. None of my other devices are having any problems accessing websites through WiFi. The weird thing is that my laptop can only get some websites but not all of them through the same connection.

Try using a different DNS. Here’s how to use Google’s (for free) https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns/docs/using

Could be that the machine itself has some corruption in the DNS cache - you could try flushing it. Procedure as follows:

Click Start and type CMD <enter>
A command prompt window will open
In this window, type: IPCONFIG /flushdns <enter>

This is regarded as a very safe procedure - all it does is empty a lookup table that the machine uses as a shortcut for speed - the machine will then start to rebuild it (hopefully properly).

Mangetout, you were right. I cleared the DNS cache and rebooted and it works perfectly now. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. I really appreciate the help.

ZipperJJ, I didn’t try changing the DNS server but since it was a DNS problem, maybe that would’ve helped too. If this ever happens again and clearing the DNS cache doesn’t work, that will be my next step.

yes its DNS subsystem at fault… your PC has those names in the DNS cache, but not getting any more data through for new hostnames

Glad to hear it helped. I’ve been seeing a fair bit of this lately on different machines. I think it may be the ripples of some big malware type event somewhere. DNS cache poisoning or some such.

Just FYI, simply rebooting the machine clears the DNS cache also. The procedure Mangetout gave you is for clearing the DNS cache if you don’t want to reboot.

If just clearing the cache without rebooting didn’t solve the problem, then it was something else that was also fixed by a reboot. Although it may seem annoying, when there is something wrong with your computer, this is one of the many reasons people will tell you to reboot as your first step in troubleshooting it.

If the DNS flush/machine reboot doesn’t work, reboot your router. It may well have its own DNS cache.