What to Do When Windows 10 Can't Connect to a Network

Windows 10 not connecting to Wi-Fi or the network? Try these fixes

A man trying to connect to a Wi-Fi network on his Windows 10 laptop in a cafe.

 Caiaimage / GettyImages

Windows 10 computers, laptops, and tablets are more than capable of connecting to Wi-Fi. Despite this, it's still surprisingly common for users to experience glitches and bugs that prevent Windows 10 from connecting to a network or the internet properly.

Cause of Windows 10 Network Errors

When Windows 10 can't connect to a network, the reason is typically related to specific device drivers that are conflicting with the current version of the operating system or hardware. These device drivers may be corrupted or out-of-date.

Other causes for Wi-Fi network connectivity problems include incorrect settings for Windows 10 apps and overwhelmed internet access points.

How to Fix Windows 10 Network Connection Bugs

  1. Verify that it is indeed a Windows 10 problem. If you can't connect your Windows 10 computer or tablet to wireless, check to see if you can connect any of your other devices to the same network.

    If the internet isn't working on all of your devices, the connection problem is likely related to your internet service provider and not Windows 10. 

  2. Reboot your modem and router. Performing a reboot typically fixes most network connectivity problems. Unplug your modem and router from the power socket, wait a minute, plug in your modem, wait a minute, and then plug in your router.

    Restarting your modem and router can also sometimes speed up your internet if you experience download speeds that are noticeably slower than usual.

  3. Make sure Wi-Fi is turned on. Your Windows 10 device won't connect to a network if Wi-Fi has been disabled. You can check to see if Wi-Fi is turned on by opening the Windows 10 Action Center and clicking on the Wi-Fi tile.

    To get to the Action Center, click on the Notifications icon in the lower-right corner of the screen. If your Windows 10 device has a touchscreen, you can open the Action Center by swiping in from the right side of the screen with your finger.

  4. Turn airplane mode off. Airplane mode disables Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when turned on. To disable it, tap on its tile in the Action Center.

  5. Move to the same room as your router. Walls can often block Wi-Fi signals and make it difficult, or even impossible, for Windows 10 to connect to a network.

    Connect to your Wi-Fi network and then move away from the router while checking the Wi-Fi signal strength icon in the taskbar. Doing this will help you to find the best and worst places for connecting to Wi-Fi in your space.

    If you live in a big apartment or house, it can be a good idea to boost your Wi-Fi signal to cover the whole space.

  6. Manually connect to a network. If your Windows 10 device doesn't automatically connect to a network, you can do so manually. Open the Start Menu and click Settings > Network & Internet > Wi‑Fi > Show available networks and then selecting yours from the list of available connections. Then click Connect.

  7. Restart your Windows 10 computer. Restarting a device can often fix most tech issues including those that prevent you from connecting to a Wi-Fi network.

  8. Check for Windows updates. These updates can fix problems in addition to downloading the latest versions of software and drivers needed to run everything efficiently.

    To perform a Windows 10 update, you need Internet access. If you can't connect to your Wi-Fi network, consider using a public Wi-Fi access point with no download limits or by at work or a friend's house.

    If you decide to use public Wi-Fi, make sure to take the proper precautions before connecting.

  9. Run the Network troubleshooter. All Windows 10 devices have built-in troubleshooter programs that can scan your device for problems, fix them, and offer potential solutions for issues that it detects.

    To start the troubleshooter, open the Windows 10 Start Menu and click on Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot > Internet Connections > Run the troubleshooter.

  10. Open Microsoft Edge. If you're trying to connect to a public Wi-Fi network, you might need to accept terms of use or register your email address and name first.

    If something like this is required, your device will usually open an internet browser automatically and load the required web page. Sometimes this doesn't happen automatically, so you'll need to launch Edge manually.

  11. Move to a less-populated location. Many public Wi-Fi hotspots, such as those in food courts and airports, place limits on the number of devices that can connect to it. If Windows 10 won't connect to one of these networks, try relocating to a quieter area with fewer people and try again.

  12. Update your network adapter driver. Your current network adapter driver might be incompatible with your hardware or operating system so downloading a newer one could fix your connectivity issues.

    It's a good idea to connect to the internet when updating drivers so you can get the latest versions. Also, be sure to restart your Windows 10 device after installing a driver.

    If you're unsure of which adapter to check, you can manually update the drivers for each of them.

  13. Roll back to the previous driver. If your Windows 10 device stops connecting to the internet after performing a driver update, you can reverse the damage by rolling back to the previous one.

    After you've rolled back to the previous driver, restart your device.

  14. Temporarily disable the native Windows 10 firewall. A firewall is necessary to protect your Windows 10 device, but the technology has been known to cause conflicts when connecting to a network.

    After disabling the firewall, you can then test your internet connection by opening a web browser and visiting a safe website, such as Lifewire.com. If nothing happens, you can experiment by disabling the firewalls within the Domain Network and Private Network settings too. Make sure to turn all the firewalls back on once you’re finished testing.

    It's incredibly important to keep your firewall enabled to protect your Windows 10 device. Turning the firewall off should not be a permanent solution. If the firewall is interfering with your internet connectivity, you may need to perform a Windows update.

  15. If you use a third-party firewall program in addition to the built-in Windows 10 Windows Defender option, you should be able to turn it off from within that program's settings. Many third-party antivirus software bundles include firewall protection. It's worth disabling them one-by-one to see if any are affecting your Windows 10 network functionality.

  16. Check if you're on a metered connection. If your Windows 10 device has internet connectivity but can't download media or perform a Windows update, you might be on a metered connection.

    To check, click on Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > the name of your currently connected network and make sure the Set as metered connection switch is Off.

  17. Forget your Wi-Fi network and then re-add it. Sometimes it can be worth removing the Wi-Fi connection that's causing trouble and then re-adding it. After removing the network, restart your Windows 10 computer and try connecting to the network again. You will need your username and password.

    Check that you're entering your Wi-Fi password correctly. You can show the Wi-Fi password that you've typed by performing a long click on the eye icon in the password text field.

  18. Try using Windows 10 command prompts. Within the search box in the Windows 10 taskbar, type Command prompt followed by Run as administrator and then Yes. Try each of the following command prompts one at a time, pressing Enter and checking your internet connection after each one.

    • netsh winsock reset
    • netsh int ip reset
    • ipconfig /release
    • ipconfig /renew
    • ipconfig /flushdns
    • reg delete HKCRCLSID{988248f3-a1ad-49bf-9170-676cbbc36ba3} /va /f followed by netcfg -v -u dni_dne
  19. Perform a Windows 10 network reset. If none of the above solutions work, a Windows 10 Network reset may fix your connection problems. Open Settings > Network & Internet and scroll down to the bottom of the window and click on Network reset. You will get a warning that a Windows 10 network reset will remove and reinstall all of your network adapters and reset various network-related settings to their defaults. When you're ready, click on Reset now. The reset will begin and your Windows 10 device should restart.