How To Tell if your Internet is working

By John D Loop on Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 5:07pm

I often get this question.  It is pretty simple to tell if you are "on the Internet" - Being "on the Internet"  means you have been assigned an address -an IP address- by your ISP, most likely up here, if you are on ADSL.  You need an address on the Internet so everybody knows how to get to you, just like a mail address.  This is a dynamic address which changes occasionally (unless you have subscribed for a "static" IP). 

There are two parts of "being on the internet"

-- having an address - an IP address.  It looks like this:  -4 numbers

-- having the ability to interpret names, like  - a working DNS server

We need to open a "cmd prompt" in windows to do some "cmd line" things.

From the 'Start" button on the lower left, click on it and type in "cmd" followed by Enter Key.

This will open a black window with a "cmd prompt"  -- if you hit the Enter key, you will see it echo something at you.  This means the computer is ready to receive commands.

The first command we give it is  "ping   -t"  -followed by Enter key.

You should get a steady reply every sec, with a delay of ~10-50msec.

This means you are actually sending an "IP packet" to a server in Atlanta and he (she?) is replying. This means your windstream connection is UP and you are on the Internet. 

An "IP packet" is an "electronic postcard" - it has a to and from address, plus content.  This is how the Internet works - servers/computers send electronic postcards (IP packets) back and forth.  The "Internet" is the "electronic post office system" to ferry these electronic postcards around.

You can start this ping on your computer and leave it running all day.  Doing a Control C to exit will give you a report of the whole day.  Electronic post cards are VERY cheap!  You can also do one more test.  You can test if you can ping by name, i.e. "ping"  e.g. This means you can access the Internet by names, and you don't have to know the "IP address." 

This is what fouls most people up.  People don't operate naturally with numbers such as those above, so there is a special service which translates number to names - DNS "Domain name service"  .   You can be on the Internet without using names if you know the actual numbers to use, so the DNS service is an overlay on the actual Internet, tho most people find it a necessary part of "being on the internet."  You may have noticed that in order for "DNS query" to work, the Internet has to work using the IP address!  DNS servers are never referenced by name, only by IP address!  These are two different things that have to work for "full" Internet access - having an Internet IP address and a valid DNS server - that is reachable.  Your ADSL router is usually in charge of acquiring these - you give your credentials to the ADSL router and he logs onto windstream, which assigns them to you.  If you can do these two things, you are fully on the Internet.  There are occasional problems within the Internet, where you can get some places and not others, but you (and probably windstream) can't do anything about this. Any other problems are likely your computer or the server at the other end.

While you are at the "cmd" prompt, there are two other interesting things you can do.

-- find out your local IP address via the cmd "ipconfig /all"  followed by Enter of course.  The IP address is one of those 4 part addresses, usually something like 192.168.something.something.

-- find out your assigned DNS server via the cmd "nslookup" -- the DNS server is listed as a response.

Beware that these two values may NOT be Internet values, but are most likely the IP address and server assigned by your ADSL router.  The ADSL router fronts on the internet for you and translates the real Internet IP address and DNS server for you.

If you want to find out your REAL Internet address, open a browser such as IE or FFox and go to the site ""  and it will report your Internet address for you.   This is the address assigned the Internet side of your ADSL router.