Ethernet not working in Windows 10/11? Here’s what to do

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
Passionate about all elements related to Windows and combined with his innate curiosity, Ivan has delved deep into understanding this operating system, with a specialization in drivers and driver troubleshooting. When he's not tackling... Read more
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  • If the Ethernet is not working, that can be a huge problem when you need to complete your project or communicate with others.
  • This issue can occur from different causes, including the network settings or a malfunctioning cable or device.
  • Other culprits may be the adapter driver, the firewall, or even malware infection.
Ethernet not working Windows 10
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Even though the IT industry is slowly moving towards wireless connections, there are still uses and advantages to having a wired network connection.

The main advantage would be stability. While wireless connections can be affected by external interference, their wired counterpart is less prone to such factors.

This is one of the reasons cable connections are still recommended for servers, download machines, media streaming, and gaming.

Although Ethernet connections are easier to install and manage than wireless connections, sometimes they can be a bit of a headache to troubleshoot.

What are the possible causes why the Ethernet is not working?

There can be a lot of reasons why your Ethernet cable connection is refusing to work so troubleshooting can be a bit difficult.

However, we will try to highlight a few of the main issues that might prevent your PC from connecting to the Internet by using the Ethernet.

Malfunctioning local devices

With the risk of stating the obvious, the most common problems for Ethernet connection problems are hardware issues or the ISP service.

So before getting to any software tweaking, make sure that the connection from your ISP is active and all the local network components are working properly.

In other words, check if the indicator lights on your router/modem are showing as they should and if the cables connecting your devices are not damaged and properly plugged in.

Check the drivers

Try updating your network ethernet driver

If this problem occurred after you just updated your OS, or you’ve made any modifications to the system, you should check the network adapter driver.

This is a common problem and can be solved in just a few seconds so you don’t need to worry too much because we have the solution below.

Scan for viruses and malware

Although it’s not too common, there are malware and virus infections that can disable your Ethernet connection with harmful intentions.

On another take, the firewall of your antivirus may have detected the problem and it’s blocking the connection to protect your PC. Performing a full scan on your system is a great idea anytime.

Knowing all that, in this article, we will discuss how you can check the basics of an Ethernet connection on a machine running Windows 10.

How can I fix Ethernet problems on Windows 10?

1. Check that the connection is enabled

  1. Right-click on the Start button and select Network Connections.
  2. Click on Ethernet from the left and choose Change adapter options from the right.
  3. Now, all you have to do is right-click on your connection and select Enable.

2. Check your drivers

  1. Right-click on the Start button and select Device Manager.
  2. Expand the Network adapters list and check whether there are any issues with the devices.
  3. Right-click on the Ethernet card and select Properties.
  4. In the Device status window, it should say that your device is working properly.
  5. If your Ethernet controller icon has a question mark or an exclamation point, then reinstall the correct driver for it. Click the Driver tab and select Update driver.
  6. Now, click on Search automatically for drivers. You can select the second option if you have a dedicated driver already downloaded.
  7. If the system finds a new driver it will install it.

After you have uninstalled your drivers, we recommend reinstalling them automatically. Downloading and installing drivers manually is a process that carries the risk of getting the wrong driver installed, which may lead to serious malfunctions of your system.

The safer and easier way to update drivers on a Windows computer is by using an automatic tool.

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This kind of software will automatically identify each device on your computer and matches it with the latest driver versions from an extensive online database.

Drivers can then be updated in batches or one at a time, without requiring the user to make any complex decisions in the process. Driver updaters such as DriverFix are user-friendly and use very few system resources.

3. Check the network cable

In the Network connections window, once the Ethernet connection is enabled, you can also check its status. As you can see in the image below, the status of this connection says Network cable unplugged.

This means that the network card cannot identify if a cable is connected to it. If your cable appears to be connected, try disconnecting it and connecting it back again.

Check that one end of the network cable is connected to the Ethernet port on your machine, and that the other end is connected to the network (router, switch, or modem).

Cables can deteriorate in time or from improper handling. If your Ethernet adapter still shows the network cable as unplugged, switch to a different cable.

You can also try a different port on the router, switch, or modem (if more are available) as sometimes these ports can malfunction.

4. Check your connection details

  1. Right-click on the Ethernet connection and select Properties.
  2. In the Ethernet Properties window, double click on the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) option.
  3. In most cases, all you have to do is to enable Obtain an IP address automatically and Obtain DNS server address automatically but there are situations where you have to manually input the details.

For this, you’ll have to consult your router/switch/modem configuration manual or obtain the details from your ISP or network administrator.

While most connections use IPv4, in the Ethernet Properties window you can also find an option called Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6).

5. Check for viruses

  1. Type windows security in the Search tab and click on the app from the results.
  2. Select Virus & threat protection.
  3. Now, if you have a third-party antivirus installed, it will override the default Microsoft Defender protection and you can click on the Open app option. That will take you to the main menu of the antivirus and you will be able to perform the scan.
  4. If you don’t have one, opt for the Microsoft Defender Full scan or Offline scan options.

Some viruses have the ability to block network connections on Windows machines. If you have antivirus software installed on your system you can use that to scan the whole system.

We recommend you try an advanced virus removal tool with all the features necessary to keep your PC fully protected.

Thankfully, there are plenty of Windows 10 compatible antivirus software tools that have great Internet security and can detect any network threats right away.

6. Run the Internet connection troubleshooter

  1. Go to Start and select Settings.
  2. Go to Update & Security.
  3. Now select Troubleshooter from the left and click on Additional troubleshooters.
  4. Choose Internet connections and hit the Run the troubleshooter button.
  5. Check if your Ethernet connection is now available. If not, restart your computer and test again.

7. Roll back the network adapter driver

  1. Right click the Start button and launch Device Manager.
  2. Go to Network adapters right-click the network adapter and select Properties.
  3. In the Properties window select the Driver tab and go to Roll Back Driver.
  4. Follow the on-screen steps to install a previous driver version. If the button is unavailable, that means there’s no driver to roll back to.

8. Turn off your antivirus/firewall and VPN software

  1. Type windows defender firewall and click on the app from the results.
  2. Click on Windows Defender Firewall properties.
  3. Select the Firewall state drop-down menu and click on the Off option, then click on the Apply and OK buttons.
  4. If you are running a third-party antivirus, check its settings and turn the firewall off from the security menu. We showed you how it’s done on Bitdefender but it’s similar for any other antivirus.
  5. Check your Ethernet connection again.

9. Reset your network

  1. Click the Start button and select Settings.
  2. Select Network & Internet.
  3. Go to Status, scroll down and click on Network reset.
  4. Click on the Reset now button and click Yes.

How to turn off Wi-Fi and prioritise the Ethernet connection?

We left this additional solution at the end because it’s less probably but another possible issue might be that the system is prioritizing the Wi-Fi connection over the Ethernet.

So, it’s important to turn off the Wi-Fi connection leaving the system with the only option of using the data cable. Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Right click the Wi-Fi sign from the Status bar and select Open Network & Internet settings.
  2. Now select the Wi-Fi option from the left pane and toggle the connection to Off from the right.
  3. Now check if the system switches to the Ethernet connection.

If you follow these steps and still can’t connect to your wired network, then the problems might not be related to your computer but rather to the network you’re trying to connect to. Do not hesitate to a different machine to the network and see if the problem is the same.

If this is the case, then you should consult your router/switch/modem manual or ask your network administrator for the network details.

We hope that your Ethernet connection has been restored by using one of our solutions presented in this article.

If you’ve already made the jump to Windows 11, here’s how to fix Ethernet problems on the latest OS. The tips here included will definitely help you.

In case you’re sure the network you’re trying to connect to is set up properly and still can’t connect to it, please use the comments section below to ask for further assistance.

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