Browsing problems may come about due to a number of issues on the Internet service provider’s side as well as your computer. Issues with your browser, router, firewall, or other software can cause browsing issues. One of the most annoying of browsing issues is being unable to browse certain websites. This is a very tricky situation as viruses and malware can cause it as well. Here are the important things that you have to do if you are unable to browse some sites.
Your connection issue depends on the type of connection used, such as wireless or wired. Many ISPs also provide in-house tools to diagnose and repair issues; an example of such a tool is AT&T Communication Manager. As the first step of troubleshooting, you can follow some simple steps to identify and rectify the issue.
- Check if you or anyone else using your computer has restricted the website. To do this on Internet Explorer, go to Internet Options from the main menu, and click on Security->Restricted Sites->Sites. On Firefox and Google Chrome, people use add-ons to block websites. Check and make sure you do not have any such add-on blocking important websites.
- Make sure that your router is not blocking websites. These days, many high-end routers have built-in blocking options that people can enable. Refer to your router’s user guide to know how to do this. If the router is blocking any sites, disable the blocking.
- Check your system firewall. Many antivirus and system security software are able to block some websites if they find any malicious content on them. Some firewalls block applications from accessing the Internet. If you accidentally enabled any of these settings if might be the reason why you are unable to browse some websites.
- Make sure that the website is not down. On rare occasions, the reason why you are unable to browse a website is that the website itself is down. Try to browse the same site from another computer or from a different Internet connection. If you are unable to browse a large number of sites, the problem is most probably not with your browser.
- Most of the time, the issue is with the browser you are using. Clearing cookies and cache may be helpful in this regard. In order to clear cookies and cache on Chrome, go to ‘History’ from the menu and click on “Clear browsing data.” On Firefox, click “History” and then “Clear recent history.” On Internet Explorer, goto Internet Options->General->Browsing History-> Delete.
- Shut down and restart your computer. If any application running on the system is causing the error, you may be able to get back online by simply restarting the computer. You can also restart in “Safe mode with networking” option in Windows to use only the necessary components of the operating system.
- Simply clear your DNS Cache. This may be helpful if the issue is related to your DNS. To do this, go to Start menu, click on the “Run” option and type in “CMD” and press Enter. On Windows Vista onwards, type the command in the search bar of the Start menu, and right-click the “Command Prompt” icon and select “Run as Administrator.” Within the black window that appears, type the command, “ipconfig/flushdns”.
- Refresh your Internet connection. In the command prompt window, type in these commands: “ipconfig/release” and then “ipconfig/renew”.
If you are still able to get only a few websites, your Hosts file may be damaged by a virus or a malware. One of the first things to do is a complete virus scan of your computer.
Hosts File Recovery
If a virus that damages your Hosts file is active on your system, you have to follow some steps to recover your hosts file. Hosts file is an important system file that is used for domain lookup. You can open the Hosts file with the help of Microsoft Notepad, WordPad, or a specialized application such as HostsXpert. The Windows Hosts file can be located at one of these paths.
Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8: C:WindowsSystem32DriversEtc
Windows 2000: C:WINNTSystem32DriversEtc
The Hosts file is a file without any extension. When you open it up with Notepad, you will see lines with IP addresses and domain names. Here’s an example:
#This line represents a comment 127.0.0.1 localhost
220.127.116.11 awebsite.com #The IP of the website is followed by the domain name.
Before modifying the Hosts file, you should back it up; simply make a copy of the file. Within your Hosts file, you have to locate any unusual directive, such as a particular domain name pointing to the localhost IP address, “127.0.0.1”; localhost IP is simply a loopback address for your own system, and it does not give access to any website. For instance, if a number of antivirus software domains are all pointed to the localhost address, a virus may have done it. This is to deny access to the antivirus websites for automatic updates.
On the other hand, legitimate lines on the Hosts file point to the correct IP address of a website and they may be added by the software you install. If you find any anomalies in the Hosts file, delete them. Save the Hosts file and then check if you are able to browse all websites.
This is another advanced troubleshooting step. You can attempt to restore Winsock, the communication protocol between Windows networking software and TCP/IP, to rectify browsing issues. As a first step, open the Command Prompt utility in the Administrator mode by following the step outlined in the Advanced Steps section above.
In the Command Prompt window, type this command:
Windows XR “netsh in tip reset c:report.txt” (“The result of the reset will be available in the “report.txt” file.)
Windows Vista onwards: “netsh winsock reset”
After the Winsock reset, you have to restart the computer. Check and see if you are able to browse properly after restarting the computer.
Being able to browse only a few websites is one of the most nerve-racking of Internet issues. If you have Windows System Restore enabled, most of the simple problems can be fixed fast. For advanced troubleshooting, follow the steps in this article carefully or contact your ISP’s technical support.