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How to Fix Wired or WiFi Connection on Windows

Authored by:
Support.com Tech Pro Team
This Guided Path® was written and reviewed by Support.com’s Tech Pro team. With decades of experience, our Tech Pros are passionate about making technology work for you. We love feedback! Let us know what you think about this Guided Path® by rating it at the end.

Introduction

You may find yourself at times not being able to go online with your Windows PC and this can be frustrating.

This guide will help you with that and take you through the basic steps to get your wired or wireless connection fixed. These steps are listed in order, so start with the first one, see if that helps, and then continue with the next one if it doesn't.

No Internet access message showing in Windows 10.

1 Restart the PC

Many issues you may have with your PC can be easily and quickly resolved by just restarting the computer:

Before your restart your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.

On Windows 10
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.
On Windows 8
  1. Open the Charms Menu by moving your cursor to the right corner of the screen.
    Windows 8 Start Menu, Charms Bar open, indicating corner to open Charms Bar.
  2. Click on the Settings icon.
    Windows 8.1 settings button
  3. Click on Power.
    Windows 8.1 charms bar showing Power icon highlighted
  4. Click on Restart.
    Windows 8.1 charms bar showing restart highlighted

2 Determine the Connection Type

Devices can be connected to a network in two ways: wired or wireless. In order to continue, we need to determine the type of connection your device has.

A wired connection is provided by an Ethernet cable. Most commonly, these are used by desktop computers and other equipment you don't move around often.

Ethernet cable plugged into device

If your device is not connected to the router with a cable, then you are using a wireless connection.

3 Fix a Wired Connection

To fix a wired connection, it's important to make sure the cable connecting the two devices is plugged in properly, and, if necessary, to reset the connection settings of the PC.

Check the Ethernet Cable

  1. Make sure the Ethernet cable is connected securely to the side or rear of your Mac.
  2. Make sure the other end of the Ethernet cable is connected securely to your Router, Modem or Wireless Gateway.
    Computer connected to modem or router.

Reset the Network Settings

On Windows 10
  1. Using your right mouse button, right click on the Start Menu in the corner of your screen.
    Windows 10 desktop inset with Start menu highlighted.
  2. A special menu will open up. Select PowerShell (Admin).
    Windows 10 Start menu right click menu with PowerShell Admin highlighted.
  3. You will be asked to allow this program to make changes. Select Yes.
    Windows 10 User Access Control prompt with Yes highlighted.
  4. A blue-and-white PowerShell window will open.
    Windows 10 PowerShell window.
  5. Enter the following 2 commands after the > prompt, pushing Enter after each:

    netsh i i r r
    netsh winsock reset

    Do not worry about the other text that comes from these commands.

    Windows 10 PowerShell network reset commands.
  6. Restart your PC for the changes to take effect.
On Windows 8
  1. Using your right mouse button, right click on the Start Menu in the corner of your screen.
    Windows 8 Desktop inset, with Start menu highlighted.
  2. A special menu will open up. Select Command Prompt (Admin).
    Windows 8 Start menu right-click menu, with Command Prompt Admin highlighted.
  3. You will be asked to allow this program to make changes. Select Yes.
    Windows 8 User Access Control prompt with Yes highlighted.
  4. A black-and-white command prompt will open.
    Windows 8 Command Prompt.
  5. Enter the following 4 commands after the > prompt, pushing Enter after each:

    net start dhcp
    net start dnscache
    netsh i i r r
    netsh winsock reset

    Do not worry about the other text that comes from these commands.

    Commands entered into Command Prompt.
  6. Restart your PC for the changes to take effect.

4 Fix a WiFi Connection

To fix a WiFi connection, it's important to make sure the PC is within good range of the wireless access point, and, if necessary, to delete the WiFi connection to that access point from within the network settings of the PC then reconnect the PC to the same WiFi network. A wireless access point can be anything between a wireless gateway, router, range extender (also called repeater or booster) or even mesh WiFi node.

Make Sure the PC is in Range

The PC needs to be within a reasonable range of the wireless access point in order to connect and have the best connection speeds.

  • In general, in most homes, you can be up to 30 feet from the access point for a decent connection.
  • From 30' to 50' away, the speeds will be slower, and may drop occasionally, but it should be usable.
  • Greater than 50' away, and the signal will most likely be too weak to overcome interference. The speeds will be slow, and the connection may be sporadic.

The above numbers are approximates only. Optimal range may vary based on access point type, make and model.

Delete the WiFi Network

On Windows 10
  1. Click on the Start Menu icon.
    Windows Start menu icon.
  2. Select Settings.
    Start menu inset with Settings gear icon highlighted.
  3. Select Network & Internet.
    Windows 10 Settings with Network and Internet highlighted.
  4. Select Wi-Fi, then Manage known networks.
    Windows 10 Settings with Wi-Fi and Manage known networks highlighted.
  5. Select your Wi-Fi network, then select Forget.
    Manage Known Networks Settings with Wi-Fi network and Forget button highlighted.
On Windows 8
  1. Open the Charms Menu by moving your cursor to the right corner of the screen.
    Windows 8 Start Menu, Charms Bar open, indicating corner to open Charms Bar.
  2. Select Settings.
    Windows 8.1 settings button
  3. Select Change PC settings in the bottom-right corner.
    Windows 8 Settings Menu with Change PC settings highlighted.
  4. Select Network.
    PC Settings with Network highlighted.
  5. Select Connections.
    Network Settings with Connections highlighted.
  6. Select Manage known networks.
    Network Connections with Manage known networks highlighted.
  7. From the list, select your network, then select Forget.
    Network connection with Forget button highlighted.

Reconnect the PC to the WiFi Network

On Windows 10
  1. Click on the Notifications icon and then click on Network.
    notification center open with notifications icon and network highlighted
  2. Click the network you wish to connect to.
    available networks with an example network selected
  3. Choose if you wish to automatically connect to your network, and then click on Connect.
    selected network listed with connect automatically box and the connect button highlighted
  4. Enter in your security key and click Next.
    Security key field with next highlighted
  5. Choose whether or not you want to be visible to the network.
    Do you want your computer to be discoverable with yes and no boxes highlighted

    It is recommended to allow your PC to be discovered on private home networks because that allows you to see other wireless devices on the Network. If you're at a public location it is suggested to select "No".

  6. You can verify your connection by checking to see if it now says "Connected" next to the network.
    Notification showing you are now connected to Wi-Fi
On Windows 8
  1. Open the Charms Menu by moving your cursor to the right corner of the screen.
    Windows 8 Start Menu, Charms Bar open, indicating corner to open Charms Bar.
  2. Select Settings.
    Windows 8.1 settings button
  3. Select Network.
    Settings with Network highlighted.
  4. Select your Wi-Fi network from the list.
    Network list.
  5. Make sure Connect automatically is checked, then select Connect.
    Network Connection with Connect automatically and Connect button highlighted.
  6. Enter your network password, then select Next.
    Wi-Fi password prompt with Next button highlighted.
  7. Select Yes to be able to use other devices, such as printers, on your home network.
    Network connection data sharing prompt with Yes highlighted.

5 Check the Cables to the Modem and Router

Whether you have a wired or wireless connection, your Internet equipment such as your router, modem or wireless gateway requires to be wired to the Internet signal source and a power source.

Check the Connections to the Modem

  1. Make sure the power cable is connected firmly to the back of the modem and the electrical outlet, and the power light is on. The power light usually has the symbol below next to it.
    Power
  2. Make sure the connection to your service provider is proper. This could be a cable line if you have cable Internet, a phone line if you have DSL, or a Fiber cable for fiber Internet.
    Modem connected to power and Internet. Diagram.

Check the Connections to the Router

If you have a "Wireless Gateway", or combination modem and router, you can skip these checks.

  1. Make sure the power cable is connected firmly to the back of the device and the wall, and the power light is on. The power light usually has the symbol below next to it.
    Power
  2. Make sure the Ethernet cable going to your modem is connected securely, and into the "Uplink" or "Internet" port.
  3. Make sure the other end of the Ethernet cable is connected securely to your Modem.
    Router connected to power and modem. Diagram.

6 Restart the Modem and Router

Many times a connection issue can be resolved quickly and easily by restarting the Internet equipment:

  1. Disconnect the power cable from the back of your modem. The power cable is usually near the bottom, and tends to be a thin black cord. It usually does not have any clips on it.
    Back of cable modem, power port highlighted.

    Some modems may have a battery backup to keep the telephone service working in case of a power outage. If the lights on your modem do not turn off when you disconnect the power cable, make sure you also remove the battery as well, then put it back in place before you reconnect the power cable.

  2. Disconnect the power cable from the back of your router, or if your router has one, push the power button to turn it off.

    Some Internet Service Providers now provide "Wireless Gateways", which contain both a modem and router in one simple device. Some users prefer separate devices. Both are perfectly acceptable. If you are using an all-in-one Wireless Gateway, you can safely continue without this step.

    Back of router, power port highlighted.
  3. Wait 30 seconds.
  4. Reconnect the power cables back into your modem and router.
  5. Make sure the power light comes on for each device. This is usually labeled by the symbol below.
    Power

    Please allow 3 to 6 minutes for the modem and router to start up fully.

7 Check the Internet Light on Modem and Router

There's a light representing the Internet connection. It will usually be labeled "Internet", or have one of the common symbols below.

Globe with meridians. Lower case italic i. Planet with satellite symbol.

Make sure the light next to this symbol is on and solid (or flickering very briefly) on both your modem and router. This means you should have a good connection to the Internet and your devices should be able to go online.

If the Issue Persists

Please contact your ISP or Router OEM for network assistance.

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You may find yourself at times not being able to go online with your Windows PC and this can be frustrating.

This guide will help you with that and take you through the basic steps to get your wired or wireless connection fixed. These steps are listed in order, so start with the first one, see if that helps, and then continue with the next one if it doesn't.

No Internet access message showing in Windows 10.

Many issues you may have with your PC can be easily and quickly resolved by just restarting the computer:

Before your restart your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.

On Windows 10
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.
On Windows 8
  1. Open the Charms Menu by moving your cursor to the right corner of the screen.
    Windows 8 Start Menu, Charms Bar open, indicating corner to open Charms Bar.
  2. Click on the Settings icon.
    Windows 8.1 settings button
  3. Click on Power.
    Windows 8.1 charms bar showing Power icon highlighted
  4. Click on Restart.
    Windows 8.1 charms bar showing restart highlighted

Devices can be connected to a network in two ways: wired or wireless. In order to continue, we need to determine the type of connection your device has.

A wired connection is provided by an Ethernet cable. Most commonly, these are used by desktop computers and other equipment you don't move around often.

Ethernet cable plugged into device

If your device is not connected to the router with a cable, then you are using a wireless connection.

To fix a wired connection, it's important to make sure the cable connecting the two devices is plugged in properly, and, if necessary, to reset the connection settings of the PC.

Check the Ethernet Cable

  1. Make sure the Ethernet cable is connected securely to the side or rear of your Mac.
  2. Make sure the other end of the Ethernet cable is connected securely to your Router, Modem or Wireless Gateway.
    Computer connected to modem or router.

Reset the Network Settings

On Windows 10
  1. Using your right mouse button, right click on the Start Menu in the corner of your screen.
    Windows 10 desktop inset with Start menu highlighted.
  2. A special menu will open up. Select PowerShell (Admin).
    Windows 10 Start menu right click menu with PowerShell Admin highlighted.
  3. You will be asked to allow this program to make changes. Select Yes.
    Windows 10 User Access Control prompt with Yes highlighted.
  4. A blue-and-white PowerShell window will open.
    Windows 10 PowerShell window.
  5. Enter the following 2 commands after the > prompt, pushing Enter after each:

    netsh i i r r
    netsh winsock reset

    Do not worry about the other text that comes from these commands.

    Windows 10 PowerShell network reset commands.
  6. Restart your PC for the changes to take effect.
On Windows 8
  1. Using your right mouse button, right click on the Start Menu in the corner of your screen.
    Windows 8 Desktop inset, with Start menu highlighted.
  2. A special menu will open up. Select Command Prompt (Admin).
    Windows 8 Start menu right-click menu, with Command Prompt Admin highlighted.
  3. You will be asked to allow this program to make changes. Select Yes.
    Windows 8 User Access Control prompt with Yes highlighted.
  4. A black-and-white command prompt will open.
    Windows 8 Command Prompt.
  5. Enter the following 4 commands after the > prompt, pushing Enter after each:

    net start dhcp
    net start dnscache
    netsh i i r r
    netsh winsock reset

    Do not worry about the other text that comes from these commands.

    Commands entered into Command Prompt.
  6. Restart your PC for the changes to take effect.

To fix a WiFi connection, it's important to make sure the PC is within good range of the wireless access point, and, if necessary, to delete the WiFi connection to that access point from within the network settings of the PC then reconnect the PC to the same WiFi network. A wireless access point can be anything between a wireless gateway, router, range extender (also called repeater or booster) or even mesh WiFi node.

Make Sure the PC is in Range

The PC needs to be within a reasonable range of the wireless access point in order to connect and have the best connection speeds.

  • In general, in most homes, you can be up to 30 feet from the access point for a decent connection.
  • From 30' to 50' away, the speeds will be slower, and may drop occasionally, but it should be usable.
  • Greater than 50' away, and the signal will most likely be too weak to overcome interference. The speeds will be slow, and the connection may be sporadic.

The above numbers are approximates only. Optimal range may vary based on access point type, make and model.

Delete the WiFi Network

On Windows 10
  1. Click on the Start Menu icon.
    Windows Start menu icon.
  2. Select Settings.
    Start menu inset with Settings gear icon highlighted.
  3. Select Network & Internet.
    Windows 10 Settings with Network and Internet highlighted.
  4. Select Wi-Fi, then Manage known networks.
    Windows 10 Settings with Wi-Fi and Manage known networks highlighted.
  5. Select your Wi-Fi network, then select Forget.
    Manage Known Networks Settings with Wi-Fi network and Forget button highlighted.
On Windows 8
  1. Open the Charms Menu by moving your cursor to the right corner of the screen.
    Windows 8 Start Menu, Charms Bar open, indicating corner to open Charms Bar.
  2. Select Settings.
    Windows 8.1 settings button
  3. Select Change PC settings in the bottom-right corner.
    Windows 8 Settings Menu with Change PC settings highlighted.
  4. Select Network.
    PC Settings with Network highlighted.
  5. Select Connections.
    Network Settings with Connections highlighted.
  6. Select Manage known networks.
    Network Connections with Manage known networks highlighted.
  7. From the list, select your network, then select Forget.
    Network connection with Forget button highlighted.

Reconnect the PC to the WiFi Network

On Windows 10
  1. Click on the Notifications icon and then click on Network.
    notification center open with notifications icon and network highlighted
  2. Click the network you wish to connect to.
    available networks with an example network selected
  3. Choose if you wish to automatically connect to your network, and then click on Connect.
    selected network listed with connect automatically box and the connect button highlighted
  4. Enter in your security key and click Next.
    Security key field with next highlighted
  5. Choose whether or not you want to be visible to the network.
    Do you want your computer to be discoverable with yes and no boxes highlighted

    It is recommended to allow your PC to be discovered on private home networks because that allows you to see other wireless devices on the Network. If you're at a public location it is suggested to select "No".

  6. You can verify your connection by checking to see if it now says "Connected" next to the network.
    Notification showing you are now connected to Wi-Fi
On Windows 8
  1. Open the Charms Menu by moving your cursor to the right corner of the screen.
    Windows 8 Start Menu, Charms Bar open, indicating corner to open Charms Bar.
  2. Select Settings.
    Windows 8.1 settings button
  3. Select Network.
    Settings with Network highlighted.
  4. Select your Wi-Fi network from the list.
    Network list.
  5. Make sure Connect automatically is checked, then select Connect.
    Network Connection with Connect automatically and Connect button highlighted.
  6. Enter your network password, then select Next.
    Wi-Fi password prompt with Next button highlighted.
  7. Select Yes to be able to use other devices, such as printers, on your home network.
    Network connection data sharing prompt with Yes highlighted.

Whether you have a wired or wireless connection, your Internet equipment such as your router, modem or wireless gateway requires to be wired to the Internet signal source and a power source.

Check the Connections to the Modem

  1. Make sure the power cable is connected firmly to the back of the modem and the electrical outlet, and the power light is on. The power light usually has the symbol below next to it.
    Power
  2. Make sure the connection to your service provider is proper. This could be a cable line if you have cable Internet, a phone line if you have DSL, or a Fiber cable for fiber Internet.
    Modem connected to power and Internet. Diagram.

Check the Connections to the Router

If you have a "Wireless Gateway", or combination modem and router, you can skip these checks.

  1. Make sure the power cable is connected firmly to the back of the device and the wall, and the power light is on. The power light usually has the symbol below next to it.
    Power
  2. Make sure the Ethernet cable going to your modem is connected securely, and into the "Uplink" or "Internet" port.
  3. Make sure the other end of the Ethernet cable is connected securely to your Modem.
    Router connected to power and modem. Diagram.

Many times a connection issue can be resolved quickly and easily by restarting the Internet equipment:

  1. Disconnect the power cable from the back of your modem. The power cable is usually near the bottom, and tends to be a thin black cord. It usually does not have any clips on it.
    Back of cable modem, power port highlighted.

    Some modems may have a battery backup to keep the telephone service working in case of a power outage. If the lights on your modem do not turn off when you disconnect the power cable, make sure you also remove the battery as well, then put it back in place before you reconnect the power cable.

  2. Disconnect the power cable from the back of your router, or if your router has one, push the power button to turn it off.

    Some Internet Service Providers now provide "Wireless Gateways", which contain both a modem and router in one simple device. Some users prefer separate devices. Both are perfectly acceptable. If you are using an all-in-one Wireless Gateway, you can safely continue without this step.

    Back of router, power port highlighted.
  3. Wait 30 seconds.
  4. Reconnect the power cables back into your modem and router.
  5. Make sure the power light comes on for each device. This is usually labeled by the symbol below.
    Power

    Please allow 3 to 6 minutes for the modem and router to start up fully.

There's a light representing the Internet connection. It will usually be labeled "Internet", or have one of the common symbols below.

Globe with meridians. Lower case italic i. Planet with satellite symbol.

Make sure the light next to this symbol is on and solid (or flickering very briefly) on both your modem and router. This means you should have a good connection to the Internet and your devices should be able to go online.

If the Issue Persists