How to Fix a 169 IP Address Error

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

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

Dmitry Ageev/Blend Images/Getty

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.

What is a 169 IP Address Error?

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.

Ways 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.

Here are the most common fixes, which are explained in greater detail below:

  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 is an automated process that 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. Check your router settings: If your computer still doesn't receive a valid IP address, check your router settings and make sure DHCP is actually turned on.
  5. Disable and re-enable your networking device: In cases where there is a problem with the driver for your networking device, disabling the device or uninstalling the driver will get things working again.

How to Power Cycle Your Network Hardware to Fix a 169 IP Address Error

The easiest fix for this type of problem is to simply power cycle your network hardware, so that's the best place to start. This process basically reboots your network hardware, including your modem and your router, by turning them off and unplugging them.

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.

Here's the best way to power cycle network hardware:

  1. Turn your modem and router off if they have power switches.

  2. Unplug your modem and router from power.

    You need to unplug them even if they have power switches. Some modems and routers maintain a lower power standby state even when shut off, so they need to be unplugged from power for the reset to occur.

  3. Wait for the amount of time specified by the manufacturer of your modem and router. In most cases, this will be less than one minute.

  4. Plug your modem and router back in, and turn them back on if they have power switches.

  5. Attempt to connect to the network with your computer.

  6. If your computer still has an IP address in the 169.***.***.*** range, reboot your computer and try again. If it still doesn't work, proceed to the next section.

Using the Windows Networking Troubleshooter to Fix 169 IP Address Errors

Windows has a built-in troubleshooter that's able to fix a lot of networking problems. This feature is available in Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7, and it's accessed through the same method in all three versions.

  1. Right-click the network icon found in the system tray of your taskbar, and click Troubleshoot problems.

    Troubleshoot problems option in lower right corner

    The icon will look like a monitor with a network cable next to it if you're using an ethernet connection, and it will look like a Wi-Fi symbol if you're using a wireless connection.

  2. Wait for the troubleshooter to finish.

  3. If the troubleshooter is able to fix your problem, you will receive a message to that effect. Click Close, and you should be connected to the internet.

    Close button in Windows Network Diagnostics panel
  4. If the troubleshooter isn't able to fix your problem, it will either say no problems found, or tell you what the problem is and that it wasn't able to fix it. In that case, proceed to the next section.

How to Request a New IP Address Through the Command Prompt

  1. Press the Windows logo key, and type command prompt.

    Command Prompt in Windows Start menu

    In Windows 8, navigate to the Windows System located in the Start Menu to find a link to the Command Prompt. In Windows 7, you can find a link by navigating to the Start Menu > All Programs > Accessories.

  2. Right-click Command Prompt, and select Run as Administrator.

    Run as administrator option in Command Prompt via Start menu
  3. With the Command Prompt open, type netsh winsock reset, and then press enter.

    netsh winsock reset command in Command Prompt
  4. Wait for the command to finish running, then type netsh int ip reset.log, and press enter.

    A screenshot of the Windows command prompt executing a command.
  5. Wait for that command to finish running, then type ipconfig /release, and press enter.

    ipconfic /release command in Command Prompt
  6. Wait for that command to finish running, then type ipconfig /renew,and press enter.

    ipconfig /renew command in Command Prompt
  7. Check to see if your internet connection works. You may need to reboot your computer first. If it still doesn't work, proceed to the next section.

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.

The exact process for turning on DHCP differs from one router to the next, but you can check out our guide to accessing router settings and our guide to essential router settings for more information.

The most common methods of accessing a router all involve entering the IP address or URL for the router into a web browser. Some of the most common include:

Once you have successfully logged into your router, look for the DHCP option and make sure it's turned on. If it's off, turn it on, power cycle your router, reboot your computer, check to see if you are able to access the internet.

How to Disable and Re-enable Your Networking Device

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.

  1. Press the Windows logo key, type Device Manager, and click the Device Manager search result.

    Device manager in Windows search bar

    You can also access Device Manager from the Control Panel in Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

  2. Expand the Network Adapters section.

    Network adapters button in Device Manager
  3. Locate your network device, and right-click it.

    Intel Ethernet Connection in Device Manager

    Wired network devices include the word ethernet, and Wi-Fi network devices include the word wireless.

  4. Click Disable device.

    Disable device menu option in Network adapters

    You can also click update driver to check if there is a new driver available for your device.

  5. Click Yes.

    Yes button for disabling device warning dialog
  6. Right click the device again, and click enable device.

    Enable device menu in Device Manager
  7. Check to see if your computer is able to access the internet. This may take a few moments.

  8. If your computer still can't access the internet, right click the networking device again and click uninstall device.

    Uninstall device menu item in Device Manager
  9. Click Uninstall.

    Uninstall button in Uninstall Device dialog
  10. Click Action.

    Action button at the top of Device Manager window
  11. Click Scan for hardware changes.

    Scan for hardware changes menu item in Action menu in Device Manager
  12. Check to see if your computer is able to access the internet. If it isn't, try rebooting. If it still doesn't work, run the troubleshooter again.