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, its wired counterpart is less prone to such factors.
Although Ethernet connections are easier to install and manage than wireless connections, sometimes they can be a bit of a headache to troubleshoot.
In this article I’m going to show you how to check the basics of an Ethernet connection on a machine running Windows 10.
How can I solve Ethernet problems on Windows 10:
- Check your drivers
- Check that the connection is enabled
- Check network cable
- Check your connection details
- Check for viruses
- Run the Internet connection troubleshooter
- Roll back the network adapter driver
- Turn off your firewall and VPN software
- Reset your network
- Check your network hardware
1. Check your drivers
The first think to check is that the correct driver for you Ethernet card is installed on the system.
- To do so right click on the Start button and select Device Manager. This will bring up the Device Manager window. Here you can see all the devices installed on the system and their status.
- Expand the Network adapters list and check whether there are any issues with the devices. Identify the Ethernet card, in my case it is a Marvell Yukon 88E8058 PCI Express gigabit controller.
- Right click on it and select Properties. In the Device status window it should say that your device is working properly, like in the image below.
- If your Ethernet controller icon has a question mark or an exclamation point than I’d recommend reinstalling the correct driver for it.
You can find it either on the CD/DVD provided with your laptop or motherboard if the network card is embedded or on the CD/DVD that came with the network card if you bought it separately.
You can also find the latest available driver on the manufacturer’s website.
Update drivers automatically (suggested)
After you have uninstalled your drivers, we recommend to reinstall/update 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. We strongly recommend Tweakbit’s Driver Updater tool.
It automatically identifies 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.
Here is how it works:
- Download and install TweakBit Driver Updater
- Once installed, the program will start scanning your PC for outdated drivers automatically. Driver Updater will check your installed driver versions against its cloud database of the latest versions and recommend proper updates. All you need to do is wait for the scan to complete.
- Upon scan completion, you get a report on all problem drivers found on your PC. Review the list and see if you want to update each driver individually or all at once. To update one driver at a time, click the ‘Update driver’ link next to the driver name. Or simply click the ‘Update all’ button at the bottom to automatically install all recommended updates.
Note: Some drivers need to be installed in multiple steps so you will have to hit the ‘Update’ button several times until all of its components are installed.
Disclaimer: some features of this tool are not free.
2. Check that the connection is enabled
One of the most common problems with Ethernet connections is that sometimes the adapter is disabled. Maybe you did this sometime in the past or if you bought a second hand laptop/PC it might have been disabled by the previous owner.
Either way this is very easy to fix. All you have to do is right click on the Start button and select Network connections.
This will open a window with all of your connections. If your connection is grayed out, like in the image below, than it has been disabled. All you have to do is right click on it and select Enable.
3. Check network cable
In the Network connections window, once the Ethernet connection is enabled, you can also check its status. As you can see the image below, my connections status says Network cable unplugged.
This means that the network card cannot identify if a cable is connected to it. 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).
If your cable appears to be connected try disconnecting it and connecting it back again.
Cables can deteriorate in time or from improper handling. If your Ethernet adapter still shows the network cable as unplugged try switching 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
The next thing to check is that the connection details are correct. This can be done from the same Network connections windows, by right clicking on the Ethernet connection and selecting Properties.
In the Ethernet Properties window double click on the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) option. This will open a window similar to the one below.
This is where you can enter the correct details for your connection.
In most cases all you have to do is 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.
NOTE: While most connections use IPv4, in the Ethernet Properties window you can also find an option called Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6).
If your network uses IPv6 then you’ll have to make the changes here and not in the IPv4 option described above.
5. Check for viruses and other malware
Some viruses have the ability to block network connections on Windows machines. If you have an antivirus software installed on your system you can use that to scan the whole system.
You can find it by clicking on the Start button and selecting All apps. Then expand the Windows System folder and select Windows Defender.
All you have to do is select Full under Scan options and then click the Scan now button. This will take a while, depending on the amount of data stored on your machine so sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea.
Another great tool for removing viruses is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This piece of software is free for personal use and can be downloaded from their official website found at www.malwarebytes.org.
If you need more info on how to perform a full system scan directly from Windows Defender, find out how it’s done right here.
6. Run the Internet connection troubleshooter
Windows 10 features a built-in Internet troubleshooter that allows you to automatically check for network issues and fix them. So, if nothing worked, try running the Internet troubleshooter and see if it helps you fix the problem.
- Go to Start > type ‘settings’ > double click on the first result to open the Settings page
- Go to Update & Security > Troubleshooter > select and launch the Internet connection troubleshooter
- Check if your Ethernet connection is now available
- If this is not the case, restart your computer and test again.
If you’re having trouble opening the Setting app, take a look at this article to solve the issue.
7. Roll back the network adapter driver
If your Ethernet issues occurred shortly after you updated your computer, try rolling back the network adapter driver. Perhaps the current version is faulty or incompatible with your machine. Here are the steps to follow:
- Go to Search > type ‘Device Manager’ > launch the Device Manager
- Go to Network adapters > select the network adapter
- Right click the network adapter > go to Properties
- In the Properties window > select the Driver tab > go to Roll Back Driver
- 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.
Note: The screenshot above depicts a Wi-Fi driver. Simply identify your Ethernet driver on your computer and follow the same steps to roll it back.
After rolling back to the previous driver, simply restart your computer and test the connection again.
If the rollback works, you’ll have to prevent Windows from automatically updating it in the future. To do that, follow the simple steps from this handy guide.
8. Turn off your antivirus/firewall and VPN software
Some users confirmed that turning off their firewall and VPN tools fixed the problem. So, if you still can’t use your Ethernet connection, temporarily disable your firewall and VPN and test the connection.
If it still doesn’t work, try restarting your machine and test again. Don’t forget to re-enable the programs as soon as you’ve fixed the issue. You can turn off your Windows 10 firewall by following the steps listed below:
- Go to Start > type ‘firewall’ > launch Windows Firewall
- On the left side panel, select Turn Windows Firewall on and off
- Check the two options that allow you to disable the firewall > confirm your choice.
- Check your Ethernet connection again.
If you’re using third-party antivirus and firewall solutions, go to your software’s support page and follow the instructions available there.
Did you know that your antivirus can block the internet connection? Check out this guide to find out more.
9. Reset your network
Resetting your network may also help you fix Internet connection problems.
- Go to the Settings page > select Network & Internet > go to Status
- Scroll down and locate the ‘Network reset’ option. This feature allows you to set your network component to default.You might need to reinstall certain network software afterwards.
- Click on the ‘Reset now’ button > click Yes
- Wait until your PC restarts and then check if your Ethernet connection is available.
10. Check your network hardware
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.
You can try connecting a different machine to the network and see if the problem is the same on it. If this is the case, then you should consult your router/switch/modem manual or ask your network administrator for the network details.
If you’re sure the network you’re trying to connect to is setup properly and still can’t connect to it, please use the comment section below to ask for further assistance.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2016 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.