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Can't connect to the Internet

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Hi people, it's kinda hard to start up this thread cos the problem might be a little bit too general.

We're on DSL broadband and there're two computers in the house - one desktop and the other laptop.

The laptop computer was playing up a while back and couldn't connect to the Internet. After playing around with the settings and talking to the technicians at our ISP phone center, we were convinced it was a hardware problem (malfunctioning network card? - the socket where you plug your broadband ethernet cable in).

But surprisingly, one of the family members (who is really not that computer literate) fixed it. And because he's not that computer literate he couldn't remember what exactly he did to make it work. He said he just "messed around with the settings".

The laptop couldn't connect to the internet again last night and after the user logs in there's just this red cross over the network connection icon down in the taskbar. No matter what we tried it just keeps saying the network cable is unplugged.

So how do we diagnose whether this is a hardware case or software settings case? Is there a step by step instructions somewhere to follow to eliminate the possibilities? Tried a couple TCP/IP repair programs from the net (but then again is that relevant since we're on DSL?) but didn't work any miracles.

Please help

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http://www.geekstogo...s...=118853&hl= duplicate
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