Fixed Laptop doesn't want to connect to Internet

I’ll start with the back story. You can skip to the next paragraph for the actual question. My daughter’s laptop started locking up on her to the point that it was basically unusable. She will be leaving for College next January so I’m trying to get her to figure out how to resolve things on her own. Bottom line is she took it to a PC repair shop (good reputation) and just basically said “fix it.”

So, here is what matters… they put in a new hard drive, re-loaded Windows 7 and what data they could recover. She brought it home and complained that the internet didn’t work. I’m a technical guy, but my CS degree is from the days of FORTRAN. I’ll have to admit that I rely on how automatic most things are now. Anyway, I played around with it a bit and got it to connect through our home (unsecured) router and initially it didn’t make the final connection to the internet. We have 4 other PC’s, a couple of tablets, and a few smart phones that connect with no problem (if it didn’t work I wouldn’t be posting this). Eventually it connected (no idea what I did) and I set it to recognize it as our home network. It worked fine, and I set her up with Chrome, got her Gmail account connected, and downloaded MS Office Pro for her (my wife can get it for $10 through her work). Played around for awhile and everything was fine.

Had to run some errands, dinner etc. and came back to it a couple of hours later, and it said it couldn’t connect again. It recognizes the wireless signals from the area, and when I connect to ours but it is back to “public unrecognized” and won’t connect the rest of the way to the web. The auto diagnosis keeps saying it doesn’t have a valid IP address. I’ve played with everything I can think of but no luck this time.

I’m sure it is a simple setting that I don’t have right. I’m reasonably good with these things (talked a 70 year old man into getting 12:00 to stop flashing on his VCR over the phone back in the 80’s) but talk to me like I’m a 5 year old and it will save us all lots of frustration.

Any ideas will be appreciated.

Power the machine down all the way to off (not reset) then power up again.

Moving to General questions from IMHO.

Did that… no luck. Of course it sat (on) overnight and now it is connected just fine. I’ll give if a few more days before I decide if it is “fixed” or not.

I occasionally have a problem with my Lenovo laptop not connecting. Everything looks okay, and when I click on the wireless network icon it shows that there are no problems, but it’s still not connected. I turn off the wireless switch and turn it back on, and there is a dialog box telling me what I’ve done, but still no connection. I have to physically do Fn-F5 on the keyboard, which then brings up a dialog box with a button to click on to turn on the radio. Weird. Just a thought, although this doesn’t sound exactly like your problem.

To add to this, some laptop models (Dells from a couple years ago) have wifi cut-off switches that are REALLY easy to toggle accidentally by just handling the laptop normally. If yours has one, make sure wifi is togged-on.

In most laptops, the OS doesn’t have a really solid way of telling if wifi isn’t working because the switch is off, or if wifi isn’t working because there’s no network available. So it’ll show the symptoms you’re describing.

I’ve always seen invalid IP address when somehow the router has assigned the same internal LAN address to 2 machines. Your home network IP address will look something like The external or WAN address is provided by your ISP. You care about the first one.

I’m not sure, but logically, I would guess that the best thing to do is shut down ALL network devices including the router, modem and any switches. Also don’t forget things like set top boxes (eg Roku, google tv, Tivo, etc.). Turn off the wifi on your smart phones too.

Wait a couple minutes and then turn everything back on in sequence.

  1. modem - make sure it boots fully - maybe 3-5 minutes.
  2. router - another 3-5 minutes
  3. switches - 1-2 minutes
  4. everything else.