Since our Animated Internet section is moderately complex with tons of significant information bunched into interactive learning forms, we have recieved many questions. Some of the most relevant and popular questions have been answered to in detail by the team, have a flick and learn more below.
I’m always connected. How does this affect me?
Even if you have an always-on Internet connection, you’re still communicating with an Internet service provider (ISP). In your home, that’s probably your telephone or cable provider. Your home modem is in constant communication with your ISP. If for some reason your connection is separated, it automatically calls back and attempts to reestablish the connection. If you’re using a wireless data plan, your phone reestablishes your connection anytime you get too far from one cell tower and closer to another. Learn more about our All About Broadband page.
I’m connected, now what?
Connecting to the Internet is just the first step in experiencing all the World Wide Web has to offer. Now you’re connected to an Internet service provider, you can browse the Internet, send and receive e-mail, launch a social media app, download music, and so much more. Once your connected, the next step is to choose the program you want to run. The best place to start is with your web browser. From there, you can find most anything else you can imagine.
Isn’t it dangerous to connect to the Internet?
The Internet can be dangerous, but it doesn’t have to be. If you already have anti-virus software installed, make sure it updates automatically. If not, once you get online, you can download antivirus protection. It’s also important to keep your computer and web browsers up-to-date. Thankfully, both of those can be set to update on their own too. To learn more about keeping your computer safe while connected to the Internet, visit our Stay Safe page.
How does a mail server know where my message needs to go?
When you send a message, your mail server examines the e-mail address to determine the recipient’s mail server. To learn more about how this works, see Understanding E-mail Addresses. If you don’t know the recipient’s address, there are some strategies you can try to track it down. Check out our article on Finding E-mail Addresses to learn more.
How do I find my e-mail program?
Most computers, tablets, and phones come with an e-mail program pre-installed. In most cases, its icon looks like an envelope. Before you use your e-mail program, you may need to set it up. In some cases, that is as simple as providing your e-mail address and password. Other times, you will need to contact your e-mail provider for specific setup information. To learn more, see our article on Using E-mail Software.
Can I send pictures or other types of files over e-mail?
Absolutely! E-mail can be used to send any type of file, including pictures, videos, and even music. Many e-mail clients will even let you add pictures directly into the body of your message. To learn how to add files to your e-mails, see Sending Attachments.
Once I receive a message, how do I respond to it?
If someone sends you an e-mail, you can respond directly to the person by clicking the “Reply” button in your e-mail program. This automatically adds the other person’s e-mail address to a new message, so you don’t have to type it in. In most cases, the new message will include a copy of the original message, so it’s easy to keep track of the conversation, even if it goes back and forth several times. You can also forward a message to someone else, or reply to an entire group of people at the same time. For more information, see Replying to Messages.
Is there a way to save e-mail addresses?
Yes. Most e-mail programs have a built-in address book or contacts page, which allows you to save information about your e-mail contacts, including their e-mail address, phone numbers, mailing address, job title, website, and other relevant information. To learn more about adding and managing e-mail contacts, see Your Address Book.
I’ve found a newsgroup. How do I communicate with them?
Most groups will require you to register in order to post messages to the community. In some cases, you may be able to read community messages without registering, but not always. Once you sign up, you should be able to interact with the community directly from their website, or you may want to use special software to read and post messages. You can learn more about interacting with groups in our guides to Subscribing to Groups and Reading Posts and Posting Messages to Groups.
Can I use social media to find groups?
Social media has become the go-to place for meeting people online, and in some ways provides a good alternative to newsgroups and forums. Many social networks, including Facebook, allow users to set up their own groups, which act similar to traditional newsgroups. Other services, such as Twitter, allow users to connect with others through the use of specialized labels in their posts, such as hashtags. To learn more about networking online, see our Social Network page.
Are online groups safe?
Online groups are perfectly safe, provided you are careful about the information you share. Never share any personal information online, no matter how much you trust the members of your group. If you plan on meeting group members in person, bring someone else along and meet in a public place. If anyone on a group asks you for personal information, photos, money, or your address, don’t give it to them. You may also want to report that person to the group administrator, as they may be phishing for information. Online groups should be fun and informative, and they are, so long as you protect yourself. You can learn more about safe online behaviors in our Stay Safe guide.
How can I get off of a mailing list?
Most mailing lists will include an “unsubscribe” option at the bottom of every e-mail. Clicking on the link will open your web browser to a page that either confirms you have been removed from the list or allows you to select which type of e-mails you would like to receive in the future. If you no longer want to receive any e-mails from the group, make sure to unclick every option. To learn more, visit our Mailing Lists page.
Why am I on this mailing lists? I never signed up.
There are many reasons you may be on a mailing list you never signed up for. If you create an online account with a website, you are usually placed on their mailing list as well. If you sign up for a savings card at your local store, you are often placed on their mailing list. Other mailing lists may simply be marketing e-mails or spam. To learn more about getting rid of these types of e-mails, see our Ten Tips to Stop Spam.
How do I find mailing lists to join?
If you’re looking to join a discussion-based mailing lists, search for online groups that share your interests. You may also want to try joining a social network to find a group. Once you’ve found your group, check their website to see if they have a mailing list you can join. If just you want to receive updates from a company or group, contact the organization you want to stay up-to-date with and ask to be added to their mailing list. Many organizations have a mailing list sign-up form on their website.
Do I need an e-mail address to shop online?
Some merchants will let you shop online without providing an e-mail address, but this is becoming more of the exception. Many merchants require you to create a login, which is usually your e-mail address and a password you select. Even if a merchant doesn’t require an e-mail address, providing one allows the merchant to send you order and shipping confirmations. If you don’t have an e-mail address, there are many Web-Based E-mail services that provide free e-mail.
How do I know if an online store is safe?
When shopping online, it’s important to make sure the site you’re using is secure. The easiest way to do this is to look for the padlock icon next to the address bar. You may not see it while you’re browsing or adding items to your shopping cart, but it definitely needs to be there when you go to check out. If it’s not, don’t provide any personal or financial information. To learn more, check out our Ten Tips for Smart and Safe Shopping.
Do I need a credit card to shop online?
Most online merchants will require you to pay with a credit card or an online payment service, such as PayPal. If you don’t have a credit card, services like PayPal can be linked to your bank account. Additionally, some merchants will also accept a pre-paid debit or gift card. To learn more, check out our guide to paying for your online purchases.
Can I shop at local stores online?
Many local stores also have web stores and not just the big chain stores. Even many local mom-and-pop shops now sell online. Whether you want items shipped to your home or you want to find them online and pick them up at your local store, shopping online is a great way to guarantee items are in stock and you get the best price. There are also a number of online sites that offer coupons both for online and local stores. Learn more in our guide to Discounts.
What if I can’t find what I’m looking for?
Sometimes finding very specific information with a search engine can be difficult because there are so many results. Fortunately, there a plenty of ways you can narrow down your results. Our Advanced Web Searching guide offers several strategies for improving your search results. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s possible you need to use something other than a search engine to find it. It’s time to learn about Doing Research Online.
Can I trust the information I find on the Internet?
Anyone can launch a website and publish whatever information they like. While this is wonderful for free speech, it also means there is a lot of questionable information available on the World Wide Web. Some websites are more reliable than others. For instance, the Mayo Clinic website provides better medical advice than your neighbor’s blog. It can be tough to figure out which information is reliable, but our guide to Evaluating Online Information can help.
Is everything on the Internet searchable?
No. In fact, the majority of information available online cannot be found by search engines. Some of this information is contained within databases, which search engines can’t index; other sites require a login to view, and still other pages change too often for search engines to reliably track them. Searching for this type of information requires special tools, which you can learn about in our articles on Minding the Deep Web and Searching Databases.
Can I browse the web without using a search engine?
As long as you know a website’s address, you don’t need a search engine. You can just type it into your browser. From there, you can follow links to other webpages (that’s how search engine spiders get around!). Or you can start with a Web directory, which is essentially an index websites, usually organized by theme. Navigating this way can be slower than using a search engine, but it can also be a useful way to find information if you are unsure of exactly what you are looking for.
Why do videos keep stopping when I’m trying to watch them?
When you stream media, your computer attempts to download enough of the file for what is playing at the moment and a little extra (this is called your buffer), just in case your connection slows down. However, if your connection gets too slow, you can run out of buffer and the video will stop until your computer can download enough to keep playing. For more information, check out the articles on our Manage Media page.
Why won’t my computer play some video or music files?
Odds are, your computer does not have the correct plug-in to play those files. Plug-ins tell your browser or media player how to read certain media files. For instance, if you’re using a Windows PC, chances are you have no problem viewing Windows Media files, but you probably can’t watch QuickTime movies. To watch them, you will need to download and install the latest version of QuickTime. To learn more about plug-ins, see our Installing Plug-Ins guide.
What type of music is available on the Internet?
You can find just about any type of music you want online. Music stores, like iTunes and Amazon, have millions of songs and albums to purchase. Subscription music services, like Spotify and Play Music, let you play unlimited songs of your choice for a monthly subscription fee. And online radio lets you listen to your favorite types of music, or even your favorite FM stations, for free. Learn more in our A Little Net Music and Web Radio guides.
Can I download music and video to play when I’m offline too?
Many services allow you to download media files to your computer though there may be an additional cost to do so. For instance, services like Spotify let you stream music for free, but if you want to save songs to a portable device and listen to them on the go, you will need to sign up for their paid subscription. Online video services, such as YouTube, also allow you to save videos. And media stores, including as iTunes and Amazon, give you the choice of streaming content you purchase or saving it to your computer. Saving files takes longer and requires more space on your computer, but once the file is downloaded, you don’t have to worry about choppy or pausing playback when your Internet slows down. To learn more about saving media to your computer, see Downloading Data.
I don’t know the website address. How do I find it?
You don’t always need to know a website’s address, so long as you know something about the site. If you know the company name, type it into a web search. If not, do a search for the type of company you’re looking for. Or, if it’s a personal page, the person’s name. If you’re not looking for a specific site, a general search will find you plenty of pages to get started. To learn more, visit Searching the Web.
Do I have to type the entire web address to go to a website?
Thankfully, no. In the early days of the World Wide Web, it was necessary to type the complete address, including the http://. These days, web browsers assume that part of the address. In fact, for most websites, you can even skip the “www” part and jump straight to the domain name. If you’re going to a site with a different protocol or resource (for instance, some secure sites start with https://), you will have to type the whole thing out. Learn more on our Understanding Web Addresses page.
Why does my browser always start on the same page? Can I change it?
When you open your Internet browser, it takes you directly to a specified starting page, known as the Home Page. In most cases, this is a search page provided by the company that makes the browser. If you would prefer to start your browser on a different website, you can always change your settings. Visit our Home Page article to learn more.
How can I keep track of every site’s address?
Fortunately, you don’t have to. If you find an address you may want to go back to, just bookmark it. Bookmarks (sometimes called Favorites) are links websites you save within your browser. If you forgot to bookmark a site, you can always find it again with a simple web search.