How to Enable or Disable Network Connections in Windows

Troubleshoot a non-working network without rebooting

What to Know

  • Disable: Control Panel > Network & Internet > Network and Sharing Center > Change adapter settings.
  • Right-click the network > Disable.
  • Enable: From the same Network Connections screen, right-click the network and choose Enable.

If your internet isn't working, disable and re-enable the connection to reset the network-specific functionality without rebooting the computer. This reset may clear specific network problems as a complete reboot would. This guide shows you how to disable and enable a network connection on any device with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, or XP.

How to Disable A Network Connection

Disabling and re-enabling network connections is done through Control Panel.

  1. Open Control Panel.

  2. 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.

    Network and Internet icon in Control Panel
  3. Select Network and Sharing Center.

    Network and Sharing Center icon in Network and Internet panel
  4. Select Change adapter settings. In Windows Vista, choose Manage network connections.

    Change adapter settings in Windows Network and Sharing Center
  5. 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.

    Disable menu item in Network Connections window

    If Disable doesn't appear in the menu, the connection is disabled.

  6. If prompted, confirm the action, or enter an admin password if you're not logged in as an administrator.

  7. 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.

  1. Repeat Steps 1, 2, and 3 (from above) to access the Network Connections screen.

  2. Right-click or tap-and-hold the connection you want to enable, and choose Enable.

    Enable button in Network Connections window
  3. If prompted, enter an admin password or confirm the action.

  4. The icon is no longer gray, indicating that the connection is enabled.


  • 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.
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