How do I connect to the Internet?
Once you've set up your computer, you'll probably want to get Internet access so you can send and receive email, browse the Web, watch movies, and more. Before you can access the Internet, there are three things you need: an Internet service, a modem, and a web browser.
Watch the video to learn about connecting to the Internet.
Choosing an Internet service
Which service is best for me?
It all depends on where you live and how much speed you need. Internet service providers (ISPs) usually offer different levels of speed based on your needs. If you're mainly using the Internet for email and social networking, a slower connection might be all you need. However, if you want to download a lot of music or watch streaming movies, you'll want a faster connection. You'll need to do some research to find out what the options are in your area. Here are some common types of Internet service.
- Dial-up: Dial-up is generally the slowest type of Internet connection, and you should probably avoid it unless it is the only service available in your area. Like a phone call, a dial-up modem will connect you to the Internet by dialing a number, and it will disconnect when you are done surfing the Web. Unless you have multiple phone lines, you will not be able to use your land line and the Internet at the same time with a dial-up connection.
- DSL: DSL service uses a broadband connection, which makes it much faster than dial-up. However, it is unavailable in many locations, so you'll need to contact your local ISP for information about your area. DSL connects to the Internet via phone line but does not require you to have a land line at home. Unlike dial-up, it will always be on once it's set up, and you'll be able to use the Internet and your phone line simultaneously.
- Cable: Cable service connects to the Internet via cable TV, although you do not necessarily need to have cable TV in order to get it. It uses a broadband connection and can be faster than both dial-up and DSL service; however, it is only available in places where cable TV is available.
- Satellite: A satellite connection uses broadband but does not require cable or phone lines; it connects to the Internet through satellites orbiting the Earth. As a result, it can be used almost anywhere in the world, but the connection may be affected by weather patterns. A satellite connection also relays data on a delay, so it is not the best option for people who use real-time applications, like gaming or video conferencing.
- 3G and 4G: 3G and 4G service is most commonly used with mobile phones and tablet computers, and it connects wirelessly through your ISP's network. If you have a device that's 3G or 4G enabled, you'll be able to use it to access the Internet away from home, even when there is no Wi-Fi connection. However, you may have to pay per device to use a 3G or 4G connection, and it may not be as fast as DSL or cable.
Choosing an Internet service provider
Once you have decided which type of Internet access you're interested in, you can determine which ISPs are available in your area that offer the type of Internet access you want. Then you'll need to purchase Internet service from one of the available ISPs. Talk to friends, family members, and neighbors to see which ISPs they use. Below are some things to consider as you research ISPs:
- Ease of installation
- Service record
- Technical support
- Contract terms
Although dial-up has traditionally been the least expensive option, many ISPs have raised dial-up prices to be the same as broadband. This is intended to encourage people to switch to broadband. Generally, you should only use dial-up if it's the only option available.