Here’s why you can access a website on your phone but not your computer:
Most of the time, this will be because of an issue that is local to the computer, such as not having internet access.
There are specific differences between using a phone and computer that could cause a website to only load on one device. It can come down to the site’s design, your browser, and how the device connects.
If you want to learn all about why you can access a website on your laptop but not your phone and how to fix it, then you’re in the right place.
Do Phones and Computers Load Websites Differently?
Phone screens don’t look like typical laptop or computer screens. They are different sizes and shapes. If you are making a webpage that is designed specifically for mobile access, it will be formatted and oriented differently than if you design it for a computer.
Now, most good websites have both a mobile and desktop version. When you load the page with your device, you will be automatically directed to the correct version, and this is one way you will see discrepancies. If the mobile version of the site is working normally and the desktop version is not, then you might only be able to load the site on one device.
When this is the case, it is the automatic redirection of computers to the appropriate version that is the source of the problem. Without that redirect, the computer might be able to load the mobile version of the site. Even when that happens, you might run into new problems.
Mobile Web Design
In addition to physical orientations, mobile websites are optimized to run on Android and iOS systems. That includes the browser versions common on those platforms (more on this later). Because of this optimization, you’ll find that computers can have difficulty loading mobile web pages if they are designed too specifically for mobile access.
The computer can load a messed-up version of the site or nothing at all. One way around this issue is to run an emulator on the computer. You can get an emulator for a mobile browser. It will load the mobile websites better, and if this is the sole problem, the site will work on the emulator on the computer.
A different issue can arise with desktop web pages that has to do with design philosophy. Typically speaking, computers are much more powerful than phones, so a lot of web designers try to take advantage of this. A desktop version of the site might have more dynamic presentations that require more powerful hardware to load.
This can lead to two problems. First, if your desktop doesn’t have sufficient hardware, the site might crash before it can fully load. In this case, your best option is to try to stick to the mobile version of the site, either by using your phone or an emulator (as discussed above).
The second issue is that more complicated websites have more places where things can go wrong. The site can crash on the server side, and this ultimately leads to accessibility for computers. If this is the case, the best bet is usually to report a problem to the site’s owner. They will typically fix the problem, and you will be able to load the site from your computer once more.
Does the Browser Make a Difference?
Do you use the same browser on your phone and computer? For many people, the answer is yes. For just as many, the answer is no, especially if you use an iPhone and a PC.
Each browser governs website access according to its own rules, and because of that, there are websites that just don’t work on certain browsers. The differences are all over the place, and they can lead to this problem.
Popular Mobile Browsers
The two most popular browsers on mobile phones are Chrome and Safari. These two dominate phone usage by far, and interestingly enough, they are very popular browsers on desktops too. Because of this, browser differences are less likely to be the root cause of the problem.
That said, you can get a huge number of different browsers on your phone according to your preferences. The main point here is to check and see if you are using the same browser on both devices.
If you are, then you know this isn’t the problem. If not, try using the known-working browser on your computer. It may solve the problem as easily as that.
Even better, most modern browsers allow you to make accounts. That can enable you to transfer all of your favorites and saved information from your phone browser to the computer browser, all with the click of a button.
Popular Desktop Browsers
Here’s where you will see a difference. The most popular browsers for a computer, in order, are Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Microsoft Edge.
You’ll notice that only two of these were listed above. They are all available on phones, with the exceptions of Internet Explorer (IE) and Microsoft Edge.
For starters, if you’re using IE or Edge, that might be the problem right there. Try a different browser, and things might work.
In a lot of cases, you might also find that the issue is with Firefox. While it is very popular on computers, it’s much less popular on phones, so there is a likely discrepancy there as well.
Is it Just a Problem With the Computer?
Most of the time, if a website is fine on your phone and not your computer, it has to do with the computer. There are a few common issues that would prevent a specific device from loading a web page.
Most of them are related to how the computer actually communicates with a website.
The first thing you want to check is the internet connection on the computer. It’s entirely possible for the phone to have internet access while the computer does not. A common reason for this is that the phone can be connected to the carrier network while your Wi-Fi is down.
Even when that isn’t the case, your computer might not be connecting properly even while the rest of the network is fine. You can troubleshoot the network to try to resolve that issue.
Naturally, the easy way to tell that connectivity is the problem is that no web pages will load. Similarly, web-enabled apps won’t be able to load information either. Also, your computer will normally tell you if it can’t connect to the internet. It’s a common feature.
Things get more complicated when you delve into DNS issues. There are times when your computer is connecting to the network and internet just fine, but you still can’t load web pages (or a specific page). When this happens, DNS is a likely culprit.
DNS stands for Domain Name System. It’s basically the computer language for web addresses. When you go to Google.com (for example), your computer doesn’t actually try to contact an address known as “Google.com.”
Instead, it searches for a serial number that is assigned to Google.com. The computer uses the numbers while you see the letters that are so familiar.
DNS is ultimately resolved by routing through servers. When you try to reach a website, you first connect to a DNS server. That server has the master list of domain names and their numerical addresses.
The match is made, and then your computer knows where to find the website you are trying to reach.
If there is a problem with the DNS server or the DNS list, then you won’t be able to load some or all websites.
Here’s the tricky part. It is entirely possible that your phone and computer are connecting to different DNS servers. That would be a common reason why one device works while the other fails.
If you ever determine that DNS is the issue, you can choose a different DNS server for your computer, and that should take care of it.
There’s always a chance that software is misbehaving. When that happens, any website might not load correctly. Software can prevent you from accessing the internet at all, or it can do any number of other things.
Troubleshooting software bugs is a pretty big topic. We can simplify that and say that if you think it’s a software problem, then bring in the IT pros.
But, there’s a specific software issue that comes up with computers, especially when they are PCs. A lot of people use security software, and that software can do a lot of good. It can also create weird problems.
Your security software might be blocking access to a specific site. If you’re sure the site is safe, you can try temporarily disabling your security software to see if that is the problem.
Plenty of hardware problems can also prevent you from reaching a website, but in most cases, hardware issues will create system-wide problems. Rather than fail to load one website, you are more likely to be completely unable to access the internet.
Network plugs and cards can fail (or come unplugged). Hard drives and RAM can have issues that mess with connectivity. There are a number of issues. Essentially, if you think you have a hardware problem, get it properly diagnosed so you can fix it.
The last common source of this issue is VPNs. Also called virtual private networks, VPNs allow you to mask your identity on the internet, and they have massively risen in popularity over the last few years. They can do a lot of other things, but the masking is what really matters in this case.
A lot of websites are locked according to location. This has a lot to do with geopolitics, so a website that is perfectly fine in one country might be illegal to access in another. Beyond that, you will get different website versions depending on your country of origin.
Here’s why VPNs matter for this issue. With a VPN, you can convince a website that you are connecting from any place in the world that you choose. What happens is you connect to a VPN server that has a specific location.
So, if you wanted to see what the internet looks like in Iceland, you could connect to a VPN located there. All of your activity will then be routed through the VPN server in Iceland, and every website you access will think you are in Iceland.
If you happen to access a site that is banned in certain locations, the VPN could be the issue, and it can work in one of two ways. A VPN on your phone might be getting access that is normally unavailable.
Conversely, a VPN on your computer could be leading to access denial that would otherwise be permitted. In either case, you can change the VPN settings or server location to see if this is the problem.
Why Does a Website Works on Computer but Not on Phone?
Do you wonder why it might be the other way around, a website works on your computer but not on your phone?
Most of the time, this is due to a poorly designed website or one that isn’t mobile-friendly.
A website that fails to work on your phone but works on your computer is definitely a fault on the website’s end.
Nevertheless, you should check your internet connection just in case.
Learn 8 reasons why a website works on a computer but not a phone here.