WWW FAQs: How do I access the World Wide Web?

2004-10-03: if you are reading this on a computer, you are accessing the web already. Users access the web using a web browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer. Other Internet-connected devices, like cell phones, can also have web browser software. Any device that is connected to the Internet can be used to browse the web.

As a practical matter, to access the web from home without the frustration caused by viruses, spyware, and outdated web browser software, you will need:

  • Any reasonably modern personal computer (Pentium II or better recommended; a four-year-old used computer is perfectly OK; Macintoshes too old to run MacOS X and Safari are not recommended).
  • For a low-cost connection, use a 56K dialup modem -- check your computer for a phone jack, if not they are inexpensive -- and Internet service from a provider (an "ISP") such as NetZero, EarthLink. Such services can cost as little as $10 per month.
  • For a tremendously faster connection at a somewhat higher price, consider cable modem service from your cable TV company or DSL service from your phone company. These options cost roughly $40-$60 per month. Broadband Reports offers reviews and user experiences.
  • The willingness to learn, to take care of your computer, and to protect it from viruses, spyware and other problems! Be sure to read "why is my web browser broken?" Follow those recommendations right from the start and you can avoid serious risks to your computer. If you connect your computer to the Internet and don't take heed of these steps, your computer almost certainly will develop a nasty set of problems. Avoid panic later by taking care of it now.
One viable alternative to the above is Microsoft's WebTV service. WebTV brings the web to your television set about as well as that can possibly be done... which is not all that well, in the end. For a full-featured and less frustrating web experience that doesn't monopolize the TV, purchase a good used computer.

Of course, options outside the United States may vary. Try looking up "Internet Service Provider" in your phone book.

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