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help internet won't work now

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My computer was fine all day. Late this afternoon, the outlook express wouldn't connect, no way to get email.
We left, came home and now the computer won't connect to the internet.
I unplugged everything, and plugged it all back in but when I run a diagnostic on connection, it says that my ethernet cable isn't connected when it is.
What is going on??
Can anyone help?
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The network card inside the computer-case (to which the ethernet cable is attached) may have failed. This can happen during a thunderstorm, but they can also fail simply because of their age (wear and tear of electronic components on the card). They are not expensive, one of the cheapest devices a computer has, and easy to fit. They are so cheap that replacing it should be your first step in the process of curing the problem before looking elsewhere.
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