If you frequently travel with a laptop, you are often going to need or require access to a network. Connecting to a network provides access to the internet, from which you can check email, access government websites or commercial services, or services provided by an employer, friends or family.
Unlike a home or work connection, where the PC is typically always on and the PC doesn’t move, a laptop moving from hotel to coffee shop to temporary work area may have to be configured specifically for a specific location.
If you get to a location where you are unable to connect to the network, here are some things to check for:
– Check to make sure the network isn’t down – It is always possible that the site you are at is having technical problems. Check to see if others are connecting without a problem, or simply check with your host such as the hotel front desk.
– Check your wireless
If you are using a wireless connection, is the wireless radio on your laptop turned on – If using wireless, most manufacturers provide a switch or button that allows you to disable the radio on your laptop when not being used. look at the top row above the keyboard, or along the sides or front of the laptop. Turning the radio off and on could also be a shared function on the keyboard, or even a software setting within software on the laptop.
Make sure you have configured your wireless connection properly for the location providing the wireless connection. Your provider should be able to identify what type of encryption, the password, etc.
– Check your cable
If you are using a wired connection, the cable may look ok, and still have a broken wire inside or other problem. Try to switch cables or borrow a cable to see if this resolves your problem.
– Check to see if your laptop should use DHCP or a static IP address – While DHCP is far more common, check with the provider of the network service. If your laptop is configured incorrectly, this will frequently prevent your laptop from making a network connection.
More About DHCP and Static IP Addresses
For computers to communicate on a network, they require whats called an IP address. IP addresses can vary from location to location, and are different throughout the world.
When traveling, places that offer network access provide the IP address. The address can either be provided manually (known as a fixed or static IP), or more commonly with a feature called DHCP. With DHCP, your laptop simply makes a request to the network and asks to borrow an IP address. The device that issues out the IP address responds by providing your laptop with an address.
Typically, most networks and most PCs are configured to use DHCP. However, if you have been traveling, or received the laptop from someone who had been traveling, it is possible the laptop has been configured with a Static IP address. If a laptop is configured to use a static IP address, the odds of it being properly configured for any given location is fairly low, and further, the DHCP feature is disabled as a result of the laptop having a static IP address.
Check with the network provider and determine if you should be using DHCP or a static IP. If you require a static IP, they will need to provide you that information.
If you are not an administrator on your laptop, you will probably not be able to change these network connection settings. However, one thing to know is that your wired and wireless connections are configured independently, one may be configured for DHCP, and the other could be configured with a static IP address. If you have the option, you may want to try both connections.