I’m trying to help a friend get his computer back on the Internet and am having a hell of a time making it work and could use a little help troubleshooting the problem.

The computer is a generic Core2Duo machine running XP and connects wirelessly with permission to the next door neighbor’s (another friend) Linksys router via the guest account. The issue is that the computer gets an IP address from the router, but can’t get out to the Internet. Any attempt to go to a web page results in a completely blank screen. In Firefox, refreshing the screen results in a little spinning of the activity icon, usually about 2-3 seconds and then it stops, blank screen, no error message. That seems like too little time for it to be timing out, especially without an error message.

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I can connect to and ping the router just fine. I get an IP address from the router, so I’m getting that far. But I cannot ping or connect to anything on the Internet. I know the router and Internet connection are working just fine because I can get to the Internet on my Mac and XP notebooks using the same exact guest account.

Previously, when you would launch a browser, you’d get a prompt from the router to enter the guest password, but as mentioned earlier the screen just stays blank after a few seconds of trying to connect - no error message or login prompt.

The computer was riddled with viruses and malware, and I think I’ve cleaned out most of that stuff; Malwarebytes did it’s thing, and Microsoft Security Essentials isn’t picking up any viruses any more. I’d like to put another AV software package on there, like Avast, but the Internet problem is preventing me from downloading anything.

I know XP is old and unsupported and that I should just update, but that’s not currently a viable option. My friend is on disability and doesn’t have much money, and I’m still unemployed and broke. Yes, we’re looking for an inexpensive way to install Windows 7, but first we’ll need to upgrade from the meager 1GB of RAM that’s currently installed. This will all happen, eventually, but at the current time there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to get online. It worked before, so it should work again.

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So far I’ve updated the driver on the wireless card, reset the TCP/IP stack, run Microsoft’s automated little connection repair utility, installed Chrome (thinking Firefox was corrupt/damaged) and probably half a dozen other little tweaks that I can’t remember at the moment. What am I missing? What have I forgotten to do?

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For your help, please have some sweet E24s.

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