USB Wi-Fi Adapter not recognized in Windows 10 [STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE]

Aleksandar Ognjanovic
by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Troubleshooting Expert
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usb wifi adapter not recognized windows 10, 7

The benefits of the Wi-Fi network over the LAN are obvious. A sole fact that you can move around freely and use multiple devices (focus on handheld devices is enormous nowadays) are good enough reasons to buy USB Wi-Fi adapter and share the network around.

However, a lot of users have had a hard time with those, especially the unbranded ones. Namely, it seems that Windows can’t recognize some of them. And if they are invisible to the system, well, you can figure out on your own…

For that purpose, we prepared a list of possible solutions in order to fix this and make your Wi-Fi adapter recognizable for Windows 10 . Make sure to move through the enlisted steps one by one, so we can resolve it together.

How can I make Windows 10 recognise my USB Wi-Fi adapter:

  1. Update through the system
  2. Try an alternative USB port
  3. Check Power settings
  4. Install proper drivers
  5. Disable ”Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power”

1: Update driver through the system

First things first. Even though we’re always keen to provide occasional banter on account of forced Windows Update, the one that Microsoft forcibly served to Windows 10 users, including drivers.

However, after more than a few reinstallations of Windows 10 on my PC, I’m fairly satisfied with how it behaves with various devices, with the exception of GPU, sound, and WLAN drivers. With that said, you should give Windows Update a fair shot.

Connect the USB Wi-Fi adapter and try updating your driver in Device Manager. In case you’re not sure how to do it, follow these steps:

Windows 10

  1. Right-click the Start button and open Device Manager.
  2. Navigate to Network adapters.usb wifi adapter not recognized windows 10, 7
  3. Right-click on your external USB WI-Fi adapter and Update driver.

Windows can’t automatically find a driver for your network adapter? Count on us to solve the problem.

Windows 7

  1. Right-click on My Computer and open Properties.
  2. Choose Device manager from the left pane.
  3. Expand Network adapters.
  4. Right-click on USB Wi-Fi adapter and click ”Update driver”.

2: Try an alternative USB port

After thousands of plug-in and unplug cycles, your USB ports must suffer. So, over time of extensive use, there’s a good chance that one of the available ports is malfunctioning.

So, make sure to try out multiple ports before you discard hardware as the possible issue instigator.

USB ports are prone to malfunctions, so this is a common problem. Luckily, every PC comes with multiple USB ports so you’ll at least have a choice. If you have appropriate tools, you can check for the power outage.

Your USB isn’t working? Don’t panic, we’ve got the right solution for you.

3: Check Power settings

A large chunk of power consumption on your PC goes to USB ports and dedicated devices you’ve plugged in.

In order to reduce the power consumption, Windows has some hidden power-related options that tend to suspend USB in order to preserve battery life. In regards to USB Wi-Fi adapter performance, this is a long shot.

However, a little tweak might sort it out. Here’s how to disable Power Settings on Windows 10 and, hopefully, resolve the issue at hand:

  1. Right-click on the Battery icon in the Notification area and open Power Options.
  2. Select your preferred plan and click on Change plan settings.usb wifi adapter not recognized windows 10, 7
  3. Click on the ”Change advanced power settings” option.usb wifi adapter not recognized windows 10, 7
  4. Expand USB settings > USB selective suspend settings.
  5. Disable this option for both ”On battery” and ”Plugged In” alternatives.
  6. Save changes and restart your PC.usb wifi adapter not recognized windows 10, 7
  7. Try using USB Wi-Fi adapter again.

You can’t find your Power Plans? Get them back by following the easy steps in this article.

4: Install proper drivers

When/if automatically-provided generic drivers fail, you’ll need to check for drivers manually. Most of the contemporary USB Wi-Fi adapters come with the support disk with drivers compatible with Windows 10.

It’s uncertain whether the automatically installed drivers will suffice (even though most unbranded devices work well with the generic drivers), so it’s of the utmost importance to install the drivers provided by the OEM.

If you’re missing the installation disk, don’t worry. All of those drivers can be found online. The only thing you’ll need to do is to locate them manually. That’s where these steps come in handy, so make sure to follow them closely:

  1. In the Windows Search bar, type Device and open Device Manager.usb wifi adapter not recognized windows 10, 7 (1)
  2. Navigate to Network adapters.
  3. Right-click on USB Wi-Fi adapter and open Properties.
  4. Choose the Details tab.
  5. From the drop-down list, select Hardware Ids.
  6. Copy the first line and paste it into your browser.
  7. Locate the official drivers in results. Download and install them. Make sure to download and install only official drivers from trusted sources.
  8. Restart your PC and look for changes.

Did you know that the majority of Windows 10 users have outdated drivers? Be a step ahead using this guide.

5: Disable ”Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power

Finally, there’s still one thing you should check out before we call it finished. This is a crossover of Power settings and drivers. Namely, every USB hub has it’s dedicated power settings.

The idea is to disable certain USBs in order to preserve power. However, this can affect negatively the devices connected via USB, which can affect the Wi-Fi adapter performance.

Because of that, make sure to disable this option for all USB root hubs. Here’s how to do it in Windows 10:

  1. In the Search bar, type Device, and open Device Manager from the list of results.usb wifi adapter not recognized windows 10, 7 (1)
  2. Navigate to Universal Serial Bus controllers.usb wifi adapter not recognized windows 10, 7
  3. Expand the section, right-click on each individual USB root hub and open Properties.
  4. Click on the Power management tab.
  5. Uncheck the ”Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” box and confirm changes. You’ll need to do this for each USB hub, respectively.usb wifi adapter not recognized windows 10, 7
  6. Restart your PC.

With that, we can conclude it. In case you found an alternative solution for USB Wi-Fi adapter issues in Windows 10, make sure to tell us in the comments below. We’ll be grateful for your valuable insights on the subject.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and has been since revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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