Internet, Networking, & Security Home Networking How to Enable and Disable Network Connections in Windows Troubleshoot a non-working network without rebooting by Bradley Mitchell Writer An MIT graduate who brings years of technical experience to articles on SEO, computers, and wireless networking. our editorial process LinkedIn Bradley Mitchell Updated on October 20, 2020 reviewed by Chris Selph Lifewire Tech Review Board Member Chris Selph is a CompTIA-certified technology and vocational IT teacher. He also serves as network & server administrator and performs computer maintenance and repair for numerous clients. our review board Article reviewed on Sep 04, 2020 Chris Selph Home Networking The Wireless Connection Routers & Firewalls Network Hubs ISP Broadband Ethernet Installing & Upgrading Wi-Fi & Wireless Tweet Share Email By default, Windows automatically enables and uses plugged in network interfaces, including Wi-Fi and wired adapters. When a Wi-Fi connection or Ethernet stops functioning, the operating system disables the connection automatically. The connection can also be disabled manually to troubleshoot and fix network problems. If your internet isn't working, disable and re-enable the connection to reset the network-specific functionality without rebooting the computer. This process sometimes clears certain kinds of network problems just like a full reboot would. Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. How to Disable A Network Connection Disabling and re-enabling network connections is done through Control Panel. Open Control Panel. In Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista, select Network & Internet. Alternatively, you can right-click the internet icon in the taskbar (next to the clock) and select Open Network & Internet settings. In Windows XP, change to Category view, select Network and Internet Connections > Network Connections, then skip to Step 4. If your Control Panel doesn't look like the screenshot below, instead having a bunch of icons, try looking for Network and Sharing Center; if you find it you can skip right to Step 4. Select Network and Sharing Center. Select Change adapter settings. In Windows Vista, choose Manage network connections. In the Network Connections screen, right-click or tap-and-hold the connection you want to disable, then select Disable. The icon for the connection turns grey to show that it's disabled. If Disable doesn't appear in the menu, the connection is disabled. If prompted, confirm the action, or enter an admin password if you're not logged in as an administrator. The internet connection is disabled. How to Enable A Network Connection Enabling a network connection is similar, but you'll use the Enable option instead. Repeat Steps 1, 2, and 3 (from above) to access the Network Connections screen. Right-click or tap-and-hold the connection you want to enable, and choose Enable. If prompted, enter an admin password or confirm the action. The icon is no longer gray, indicating that the connection is enabled. Tips When you disable a network adapter, you lose network connectivity until you re-enable the adapter. The same is true for a wired connection. Before you disable a network connection, save any open web-based files so that you don't lose your work.Device Manager manages network connections as an alternative to Control Panel. To disable a device in Device Manager, open Device Manager, expand the Network adapters section, and right-click or tap-and-hold the entry that corresponds to the network adapter to find the Disable option (enabling devices is similar). Uninstall connections you don't need to tighten your network security and free resources.Windows XP supports a Repair option for wireless connections. This feature disables and re-enables the Wi-Fi connection in one step. While this feature does not exist in newer versions of Windows, the troubleshooting wizards in newer versions of Windows offer similar functionality.