How to Fix a 169 IP Address Error

Having trouble reaching your DCHP servers? There are ways around that

When you can't connect to the internet, and your computer seems to have an IP address that starts with 169, there's actually a very simple explanation. This type of error happens when a Windows computer requests an IP address and doesn't receive one. To fix this sort of 169 IP address error, your computer has to be able to obtain a valid IP address from your network.

A woman throws up her hands in frustration at a 169 IP address error.
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169 IP Address Error Cause

For a computer to access the internet through a network, it needs to have a valid IP address. The easiest way to make sure this happens seamlessly is through Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), which is a setting that allows your router to automatically assign an IP address to each device on your network.

When your Windows computer isn't able to communicate with the DHCP server, something called Automatic Private IP Addressing (APIPA) kicks in and assigns the computer an IP address that starts with 169.254. These IP addresses are only useful on local networks, not the internet.

Without communication between your computer and the DHCP server, and as long as your computer has a 169 IP address, it won't be able to connect to the internet. That's why the fix for this problem involves making sure that your computer and the DHCP server are able to communicate. When that happens, the problem will basically fix itself.

How to Fix a 169 IP Address Error

To fix an error where your computer has an invalid IP address that starts with 169, you need to make it so that the networking device in your computer is able to communicate with your network hardware.

Depending on the exact reason that you're experiencing this error, you may be able to accomplish this by resetting your network hardware, telling the networking device in your computer to request a new IP address, or even changing some settings in your router.

  1. Power cycle your network hardware. Turn off and unplug your modem and router, and then plug them back in. In some cases, this will allow your computer to obtain a normal IP address again.

  2. Use the Windows networking troubleshooter. This automated process takes care of most networking problems, including ones that prevent your computer from obtaining a valid IP address.

  3. Request a new IP address using the command prompt: This is a little more complicated because you need to open a command prompt and enter a series of commands. In most cases, this will allow your computer to obtain a valid IP address.

  4. When your network hardware starts back up, and your computer attempts to reconnect to the network, it may be able to obtain a valid IP address.

  5. Check the DHCP settings in your router. There are two ways that a router can assign IP addresses. Either the router dynamically assigns a unique IP address to each device, with no input from the user, or the user has to manually assign a unique static IP address to each device.

    DHCP is the setting that allows a router to dynamically assign IP addresses. If this setting is turned off, and you haven't set a static IP address for your computer, then you won't be able to access the internet.

  6. In some cases, you can fix this type of problem by disabling your networking device and then re-enabling it, or by uninstalling and reinstalling the driver. These are similar processes that both require you to access the Windows Device Manager.