Connecting a new laptop to the internet

"I have a pc with a wired broadband connection. I have just bought a laptop. What do I need to get connected to the internet? "



Connecting a new Windows laptop to an existing internet connection should be easy.  A PC with a wired broadband connection will probably take the form of a network cable coming from the back of the PC and going to a router.  The router then plugs into a phone socket through which the broadband is provided, via a widget supplied by the broadband company.



Typically, routers have four network ports on the back.  This means that up to four computers, or network hubs/switches can be plugged into it and use its resources.  Routers will also tend to manage the IP addresses of each computer connected thereto (unless the router is within a server controlled domain, which is outside the scope of this article).  This means that if a computer - in this case the new laptop - is plugged into a free network port on the back of the router, two things should happen:

The router says "Hello!" to the computer, and "Here, have an address.".
The computer goes "Oh look, a network.  Goody."

This should happen automatically, but can take thirty seconds for them to do their hand shaking and setting up their agreed protocols.  Most of the time Windows will display icons in the system tray in the bottom right corner of the screen.   An icon of computer monitors with a red X through them means that the network connection isn not working.  If the red X disappears, then the connection is good.  If the icon shows blue screens on the monitors, it means that data is being transferred.

Once the connection has been set up between the computer and the router, the laptop should have internet access straight away.  Internet Explorer has a setting (in Tools>Internet Options>Connections>LAN Settings) called "Automatically detect settings".  This is usually on by default, and will probably need to be on for it to work.  If things don't work automatically, then check this setting.