Basic Troubleshooting Tips for Personal Laptops and Campus Internet Connections

This article is to give you a general (and basic) guide of how to troubleshoot your laptops when you are trying to connect to the internet on campus. This is assuming your network card works and is already installed. This guide may be useful in most cases, however it surely doesn’t cover all the problems and troubleshooting things that you can do.

*These are the settings you want on your computer for the TCP/IP settings: “Obtain IP address automatically”, “Obtain IP address from DNS Server”, and “Use DHCP server to obtain IP address”


1. Make sure you are using the right cable! Phone cables look the same as ethernet cables, but the tips have fewer pins. If in doubt, go to the UCLA Store (or another electronics store) and ask a store clerk to show and compare a phone cable to an ethernet cable for you.

2. Check the IP address. There are different ways to do it for win98, ME, XP, and 2k:

For WIN 98 (and maybe WIN ME), go to “Start→Run” and type “winipcfg”. There’ll be a drop down menu that might have “ppp adapter” selected. Click on that and try to select another adapter that looks more like the ethernet card, for example “3COM Nic”, “Intel Ethernet Card”, or “10/100mpbs NIC” etc.

For WIN XP and WIN 2K, go to “Start→Programs→Accessories” and click on “Command prompt”. Type in “ipconfig”

Look at the displayed IP address. If it starts with 164.67.. then that’s a good sign. It’s connected to the UCLA network and reached the DHCP server. If it’s not 164.67, that means there is something wrong with the network card/settings or the cable. If it starts with 192.168, then most likely you had set up your own ip address, and you’ll have to change it. (View step 3.)

If the IP address is 164.67, then try opening up the browser again. If it doesn’t work, check internet explorer’s “Tools—>Internet Options” and click on the “Connections” tab. Go to the LAN settings button at the bottom and click on it. Make sure no proxy server is set, and if it is, check off the box that says “automatically detect proxy settings.”

3. Check their TCP/IP settings (this includes ip address settings, dhcp server settings, dns server settings, etc.)

For WIN 98 (and maybe WIN ME), go to the control panel, go to the network settings. In the window, there may be multiple TCP/IP listings. Choose the one that looks most like the network card/Ethernet card. For example, again, “TCP/IP 3Com Ethernet card” or “TCP/IP 10/100 mbps NIC.” Click on that and then click on the “Properties” button. Under IP address, make sure it’s set to “Obtain IP address automatically.” Click on WINS resolution and at the bottom, make sure it’s set to “Use DHCP for Wins Resolution.” On the DNS Configuration tab, make sure it’s set to “Disable DNS.” IF YOU NEED TO CHANGE THE INFORMATION, WRITE DOWN THE PREVIOUS DNS SERVER/IP ADDRESS ETC.! Just in case you have to change it again or that wasn’t the cause of the connection problem.

For WIN XP and WIN 2K, getting to the TCP/IP settings is a little different. Go to the control panel, go to “network and dialup settings.” There should be one or more icons labeled “Local Area Connection” or something of the like. Right click on the icon and select “properties” from the menu. Going from memory, I think it should bring you to a window where you can see whether they set their IP address or not. Make sure it’s not set to your own IP address and that it’s actually getting the IP address automatically. Now click on “Advanced” and make sure it’s using the DHCP server for the IP address. Usually XP and 2K already have these settings correct by default (but’s that’s not always the case, so its better to check).

4. If you are in XP and you have a network connection, but the Cisco Systems prompt doesn’t come up, go to Local Area Network, click on the “authentication” tab, and disable “enable network access.” This box gives you the option of verifying with a Smart Card or some other things. Unchecking this box might work.

5. At this point, close all browsers and open them up again. Hopefully it works, because this is the end of the basic guide for how to troubleshoot your own laptop.

Otherwise, contact someone else who may be more familiar with your network settings (such as a electronics/software repair technicians).