What to do When Your Internet Goes Down

by | Mar 26, 2012 | Practical Tips, Small Business Action Plan

A Small Business Technology Action Plan

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The Internet is essential for today’s business. In fact, the FCC reports that two-thirds of U.S. small businesses rely on broadband Internet for day-to-day operations, including communication, research, monitoring, collaboration, and sometimes phone (VOIP).

With this type of reliance, productivity and business processes can halt when the broadband Internet in your office goes down.

In this post, we’ll look at what can cause your Internet to go down, and detail the process you should follow to get your business online as quickly as possible.

3 Likely Causes of Internet Issues

Typically, Internet issues can be traced back to one of three sources:

  1. Hardware and software, including the modem/router, firewall and DNS/DCHP.
  2. The “last mile,” or the wiring between your office building and Internet service provider (ISP).
  3. The Internet service itself.

The modem/router and firewall software will be located within your office building, and are maintained by your internal IT manager or IT firm. The “last mile” and Internet service are managed by your ISP, which in Northeast Ohio will likely be Cox Cable, Time Warner or AT&T. Isolating the problem then knowing who is responsible is good background information to have for your fix.

Following is the recommended process to troubleshoot and resolve your Internet problems.

3-Step Process to Troubleshoot and Resolve Internet Problems

Step 1: Reboot the Modem/Router

In essence, modems/routers are little computers with their own internal memories and processors. As with standard computers, sometimes these devices freeze and need to be rebooted.

Our experience finds that about 80 percent of Internet issues are caused by a modem/router. Fortunately, resolving these issues only takes a couple minutes and does not require specialized support. To reboot your system, simply:

  • Unplug the modem/router.
  • Wait 20-30 seconds, and then plug them back in.
  • Give them 30 seconds to boot up, and then test the Internet by opening a browser window and visiting a site that is sure to be live, such as Google.com or Amazon.com.

If problems persist, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Reboot the Firewall

A firewall is designed to protect your network from unauthorized transmissions based on a specific set of rules. Similar to the modem/router, firewalls can also freeze and require rebooting.

Unfortunately, the firewall rebooting process is more complicated than rebooting the modem/router, and it varies based on the type of firewall you’re using. Work with your IT manager or an IT provider to reboot these programs. If Internet remains down, proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Call Your ISP

If rebooting your system has not resolved your Internet outage, the issue is likely outside of your control and needs the attention of your ISP.

HELPFUL TIP: Have your ISP’s phone number and account number posted next to the modem/router for quick access.

To expedite this call, explain what you’ve already done to remedy the problem (Steps 1 and 2), as the ISP’s first step will be to ask you to reset your modem/router and firewalls.

From here, the representative should ping different parts of the network to isolate the issue. If your ISP cannot resolve the problem remotely, it will dispatch a service technician, which can take a couple hours or days depending on the availability of support personnel.

What Then?

Call your IT professional—often it is best to attack an Internet issue from multiple angles. An IT professional may be able to confirm the cause of the issue, and then offer solutions that can get your business back online faster.

In the meantime, if your business lends itself to employees working remotely, now would be a good time to release them to a location with broadband access so they can remain productive.

If you haven’t integrated remote access technologies, this may be the catalyst to start the discussion with your IT provider.

How have you resolved Internet outages in your small business? Do you have a backup plan in place? Please share any helpful tips in the comments below.