Frequently Asked Questions - Networking Common Questions and Answers

FAQs - Networking Common Questions and Answers
Here you will find questions and answers to common networking topics.
What is a web browser cookie?
A cookie is a small file that is placed on your computer by a website which contains a unique ID tag. The website that put it there also saves a file with a matching ID tag. This file stores information such as where you went on the site or any information you may have entered on the site such as an address form. When you go back to that same site later on, it will know you are by matching the cookie on your computer with the information in its database. The name cookie comes from the UNIX operating system objects called magic cookies which are tokens that are attached to a user or program and change depending on the areas entered by the user or program. You can remove these cookies from your browser by simply deleting your browser history.

What does 404 File Not Found mean?
When you get a 404 error while trying to browse to a site means that the server cannot find the file or page your browser requested. It can be caused by a website being down, clicking on a broken link or by your computer having connectivity problems. Don’t confuse this error with the Server Not Found error which you will run into when a connection to the destination server could not be established at all.

What is a Wi-Fi HotSpot?
A Wi-Fi HotSpot refers to location that has a wireless internet connection available that you can connect to with your wireless adapter on your computer or other device to gain access to the internet. Many businesses offer these HotSpots for free while others charge a fee for you to connect. When you have to pay you will usually get a custom webpage displayed when you launch your browser with instructions on how to pay for your connection time.

TAGS: hotspot, wi-fi
How do I find my IP address?

Checking your IP Address in Windows is easy and pretty much the same process for every version. The easiest way to get your IP address is from a command prompt. To get to a command prompt simply click on Start and then Run and type in cmd and press Enter. If you don’t have a Run option then you can type it in the search box like you see in Vista and Windows 7. Once you get the command prompt window open simply type in ipconfig and press Enter.

If you have more than one network adapter such as a wireless adapter then you will have more than one entry. Look for the entry that goes with the connection you are using. If you plug in using an Ethernet cable then look for Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection. Then look for the line that says IP address. For newer versions of windows that support IP 4 and 6 it may list both. You want the line for IPv4. In the example the IP address is

If you need more information such as DNS or DHCP information the type ipconfig /all to get a more detailed display.

This can be helpful in troubleshooting other network connectivity problems as well.

How can I make my computer undetectable on a LAN network? Are there any free programs I can use?

For Windows 7 and up you can disable the Link-Layer Topology Discovery Responder for your network adapter. The Link-Layer Topology Discovery Responder allows your computer to be discovered and located on the network. To do this open up the properties of your network adapter by going to Control Panel and then Network and Sharing Center and clicking on Change adapter settings. Then right click on your Local Area Connection or wireless connection and choose Properties. Then uncheck the box next to Link-Layer Topology Discovery Responder.

Another option is to turn off network discovery which controls whether your computer can find other computers on the network and if other computers can find your computer. Keep in mind that turning this off will make it so you can see other computer on the network as well. To do this click on Change advanced sharing settings and then go to either Home or Work, Public or Domain depending on how you originally setup your connection and turn off network discovery.

How to Find the IP Address of a Website?

There are a couple ways you can go about finding an IP address of a website. One simple way is to ping the website name itself. To do so open a command prompt and type in ping and press enter. It will then show you the IP address of the site.

Another way is to use a WHOIS website to find out the IP address and other information about a particular website.

IP Address Conflict error

That error means that both of your computers are using the same IP address. An IP address designates your location on the network. Since you are sharing an internet connection you are technically on a network. 2 computers cannot have the same IP address on the same network.

If you are using a DSL/Cable router it should be assigning the IP addresses to your computer when you boot it up. It may be the same address as the last time you booted or it could be different. The router is supposed to know which IP addresses are in use so it doesn't duplicate them and give the same one to another computer. In your case either your router is having a problem or one of your computers has a static IP address and the router is trying to give that same address to your other computer. A static is an IP address that is manually assigned to the computer and never changes unless you change it manually.

On both computers make sure you don't have static IP addresses. Go to Control Panel and then Network and Sharing Center. Then click on Change adapter settings and right click your Ethernet or wireless connection and choose Properties. Double click Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP) and make sure Obtain an IP address automatically and Obtain DNS server address automatically are checked. If they are checked already then its most likely your router is having problems with its DHCP which is the service that assigns IP addresses to your computers.

How do you add multiple users to Active Directory?

Here a couple of methods/links that may get you started doing what you want to do. This is assuming you already have your list of users you want to add.

You can use the Addusers.exe tool from Microsoft along with a comma delimited text file to add multiple users.

Another method you can try is the Microsoft CSVDE.exe utility

Can I power on my computer remotely?

There are a few ways for you to turn your computer on remotely. If you want to do this on a networked computer on the same network you can use Wake On LAN assuming your computer's network card supports it.

If you want to do this from a remote location then it can be done over the internet a few ways. You can use the Wake On LAN method or Wake On Ring method which is similar except it uses a modem instead of your network card. You most likely will have to have a static IP address for the location where the computer you want to turn on is located as well as a method of translating the public static IP address to the local internal address. Check out this link for more details.

There are also other hardware devices that will do the same thing as WOL but with more advanced features.

Can I connect my Mac to my cable modem?
Yes your Macintosh can use the same internet connection that your Windows PC uses. The internet uses the TCP/IP protocol to communicate which is supported by just about every operating system. If you are using DSL or cable for your internet connection and have a DSL/cable router then you should be good to go. Just plug a network (Ethernet) cable from the router into your Mac or you can connect wirelessly if your Mac has the capabilities. Just make sure that your Macintosh is set to use DHCP which will get its IP address from the router. This can be checked from your control panel and network settings. It is most likely setup correctly from the factory.

What is networking bridge?
A network bridge is a device or software that connects multiple network segments. A bridge examines each packet on the network and passes those known to be within the same network to their destination, and forwards those known to be on another separate yet connected network to that network. It is device similar to a router, but it does not analyze or route the data being forwarded.

Can't get laptop to connect to the Internet wirelessly

Is this the only computer you have connected to the internet? If so you should connect to the wireless router using a network cable first to make sure you can get online. You may also need to get into the router's settings to make sure it is setup correctly for your system. After it is plugged in you should unplug your modem and router. Then plug in the modem first and wait for all the lights to come on. Then plug in the router and wait for all the lights to come on. Finally reboot your computer. The modem gets its configuration from your ISP, the router gets its configuration from the modem and the computer gets its configuration from the router.

If you can get online while plugged in with a cable then make sure the wireless settings are correct on the router. Make a note of the router name (SSID) and try and find it with your wireless connection to make sure it is available. Then try to connect to it if you can see it. Check out this page for more details.

My laptop has a wireless connection but when I go to Internet Explorer it says searching for proxy settings and then “page cannot be displayed”

Are you sure your wireless connection is working? Even though you are connected to the router your computer may not be getting the proper IP settings from the router. If you right click the wireless connection in the taskbar by the clock do and select View available wireless networks do you see your router in the list?

If you are making a connection to the router you should next check your IP settings. Go to Start, Run and type in cmd and click Ok. Then type in ipconfig /all and make sure there is a number such as for the IP Address section. If its all zeros or a number that starts with 169.254.x.x then you are not getting the IP information from your router.

If you are getting a correct IP address then you should check your and then click on Setup. Follow the prompts and check the right information. You most likely do not have any proxy settings to fill in so have Internet Explorer do it automatically.

An additional test to see if you have internet connectivity is to go to Start, Run and type in cmd and click Ok again. Then type in ping and see if you get a reply. If so then you have connectivity to the internet and its most likely a browser or firewall setting. If not then you do not have connectivity and may want to contact your internet provider.

I have two workgroup machines that are both connected. But one machine cannot access the other system.

I would first check to make sure they are in the same workgroup by going to the system properties of both and then look at the Computer Name section. Plus make sure you have something shared on the computer so the share will show up when you browse for it.

Next you should check the IP configuration by opening a command prompt and typing in ipconfig /all and compare the results for the IP addresses and subnet masks. The IP addresses should be similar except for the last group of numbers such as and The subnet masks should be the same. Once you get both IP addresses you can ping one from the other. For example on the computer type in ping from the command prompt and see if you get a reply.

If you have any firewall software such as Norton Internet Security there is a good chance that it is blocking the connection. Check the settings or disable it to test it. You might also disable the Windows firewall temporarily to see if that's causing the problem.

If everything checks out, do a search by computer name or IP address from Windows Explorer. From the address bar type in either the computer name or IP address and see if it comes up in a search. It should be in this format: \\computername or \\IP address.

My machine will not join the domain. I can ping the server from my machine though.
In order for your computer to be able to join a domain you should check a few things first. Make sure your computer is on the same subnet as the domain controller or at least have a way to reach the subnet of the domain controller such as via a router. Check the IP addresses of both computers and subnet masks to make sure. If you are using DHCP make sure that your DHCP server is using the right address range. Next make sure your computers DNS settings are pointing to the IP address of your domain controller. If you are able to contact the domain controller when you try and join it then be sure to enter credentials of an account that has the appropriate rights to be able to add a computer to the domain.

How do you Connect Windows to a network printer?

It will depend on if it's an actual network printer or just a shared printer. You will need to find this out first since both processes are different.

If it's a networked printer with an IP address then you can add it as a local printer and add the IP address as a printer port. Then when it finds the printer you simply direct it to the drivers that you have on a CD, your hard drive or a network share.

If it's a shared printer on another computer you can browse the network for the computer that it's on and then double click the shared printer to install it. It will copy the drivers to your computer automatically and install the printer. If it's a different version of Windows you may need to provide the drivers manually depending on the version.

I have switch that connects 5 systems. But the computers are not sharing. It gives an error that says “Network path not found".

You need to make sure that all of your computers are on the same subnet if you don't have a router. I would also make sure you have Client for Microsoft Networks installed as well as File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks installed under your network connections properties so you can access shared resources.

Check the IP address on each system using ipconfig /all and compare the results of each one to make sure they have the similar IP addresses and identical subnet masks and gateway addresses.

If you are using DHCP make sure you have a DHCP server on the network giving out IP addresses. You can check this under the settings of your network connection as well by double clicking Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).

Also make sure you have something shared with the appropriate permissions so you have something to browse for and connect to on the network.

Depending on how you have your network setup you may need to adjust the user permissions or make accounts for the other users so they are able to access your shares.

I need to find my WEP Key. How do I find that and what is it?

The WEP key is a password that secures your wireless internet connection from people connecting to it that you don't want to use it. Once you connect to it the first time and put in the key then Windows will store the key so you don't have to enter it each time.

If you have a wireless router you can log into it assuming you know its IP address and password. If somebody else set this up then you may need to ask them. You can connect a network cable to the router to access it directly but will know the login information to do so.

If you are the only one using the router you can reset it back to the default configuration and reconfigure it from scratch. There should be a reset button on the back or on the bottom. You can look online and get the default password for the router to login and start the setup.

Should I use an Ethernet cable or RF for the connection to my router? It is 75' from my router to my PC.
An Ethernet connection would be preferable for the sake of reliability and speed over RF. The only thing you need to worry about is keeping it away from any sources that will cause interference (crosstalk). This may not be an issue since it's under the house compared to in the ceiling where you can have problems with things such as light fixtures and A/C units. If it's outside then you may want to be concerned about moisture over time if it's exposed. Standard Ethernet has a limit of 300 feet before the signal has to be strengthened so 75 feet should be just fine.

I have installed a fresh copy of Windows on my computer. Getting the internet to work has become a problem for me. I looked at Device Manager and an Other PCI Device has a yellow question mark on it. I don't have the original CD to load any drivers. What do I do to get the internet working?

If you don't know the make and model of your network card then you are going to have to open the case and take out the card and see if it’s written on the card itself. Then go to the manufacturer's website and download a driver for your version of Windows. If it’s a built in network card then it will be harder since you will have to find the motherboard make and model and do the same thing. Some motherboards mark this information on them and others make it harder to find. Just make sure you unplug the computer from the wall first.

If it’s a name brand computer like a Dell or HP then you can usually find hardware drivers by finding the model number or service tag number like in the case with Dells and then going to their website to get a listing of drivers. Since you can’t get online you will have to do this from another computer and copy the drivers to a CD or flash drive.

I need to convert the WEP encryption on my wireless connection to WEP shared or to WPA.
If you are wanting to change your wireless encryption on your router then all you need to do is go into the router's web interface assuming you know the IP address or URL of the router as well as the name and password and change the encryption type. Once you get into the router look for a section called wireless security or something similar. There you should be able to change the encryption type. Keep in mind that not all routers support every type of encryption. Also make sure that the type you are chaining it to is supported by your version of Windows.

My computer is telling my the network cable is unplugged but it is plugged in. What do I do? Is it a virus?

It's unlikely that a virus is affecting the physical port itself but may be doing something to block access to the port. Since you are getting an APIPA IP address (169) then your computer is not able to talk to your DHCP device. I would boot into Safe Mode with networking and see if you can get a connection/IP address that way since many virus and spyware programs don't start up in Safe Mode.

If you know the IP address and subnet mask of your network or if you have another computer connected to check the settings then you can assign a static IP address and see if you can communicate that way.

You can also go into Device Manager and remove the network card, reboot and have Windows find it and reinstall it to see if that helps. Finding and installing a new driver may be helpful as well.

Another way to check the port is to check the link light on the other end of the connection. If a connection is being made and packets are being send then you should get the link lights on the other end of the connection such as your router or switch to light up even if your computer doesn't have an IP address. If the link light on the other end is not lighting up then you may have a faulty Ethernet card itself.

I have DSL and the modem is working. When I click on Internet Explorer a message says not connected. I have to enable my Realtek adapter first manually to connect to Internet Explorer.

I would go into Device Manager properties and then find your network card and right click on it and choose properties. Then go to the Power Management tab and uncheck the box that says Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.

I would also try to update the driver for your Realtek card. You can find the model in Device Manager and then go to the manufactures website and download the latest driver.

You should also check the network cable to make sure it has a good connection to the port. It may be a good idea to replace it in case it is having connection problems that may be causing the network card to disable itself.

How can I tell if someone is piggybacking (stealing) my wireless connection?
If you are using a wireless router for your internet connection then you can log into it and see if it is giving out any IP address to other computers besides your own. This process will vary depending on your brand of router but you can look for something that says setup or administration. Then look for a network or DHCP area to see what IP addresses your router is handing out. It may be called something like DHCP clients table. There may also be a DHCP log that tells you who was connected to your router in the past. If you open a command prompt and type in ipconfig /all then you can find your IP address and MAC address (sometimes called physical address) and compare it to other listings in the log file.

TAGS: wifi, wireless
I have a broadband internet connection. When I cold boot my PC, it will not connect. If I restart it, it connects no problem. I can (and do) reproduce this easily.

Do you have a broadband router or do you plug in directly to the modem? Your computer most likely uses DHCP to get its IP address from the router and then the router gets it IP information from the modem. If you are not using a router then the computer gets its IP information directly from the modem.

Your computer may be having a problem getting its IP information from the router or modem. If you are using a router try going directly into the modem and bypass the router. Then see if you have the same problem after a couple of reboots. If so then your router may have a problem giving your computer the IP information it needs to connect to the internet.

If you are not using a router then your modem may not be giving the computer the proper information. When it does not connect you should check the IP information and make sure you are getting an IP address.

If the IP address begins with 169.254.x.x then that is the Windows autoconfig IP address that is uses when it can’t get one from a DHCP device. If the IP address is all zeros or uses the autoconfig IP then you can try to renew your IP address to see if that makes a difference.

There is also a chance your computer could be having issues obtaining an IP address but I would check the router and modem first.

TAGS: broadband, modem

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