How to Fix the Network Cable Unplugged Error in Windows

Does your Windows PC or laptop fail to connect to the Internet even though other devices connect on the same network? This usually is preceded by an error message such as “A network cable is unplugged,” “Ethernet not working” or “Ethernet not connected.” Instead of the Internet icon displaying connectivity, you only see the offline “X” symbol which doesn’t go away on its own.

There can be many possible causes for the network cable unplugged error, both software and hardware dependent. We bring you a systematic guide to troubleshoot the problem, and get back online quickly.

What Does It Mean When My PC Says Network Cable Unplugged?

Unless there is something wrong with your modem or router, you shouldn’t have any issues connecting to a Windows device. The easiest way to test the router’s health is to have it connect with other Wi-Fi gadgets at your home. If another computer, smartphone, tablet, or smart TV can go online on the same network, it should be good enough for the Windows laptop or PC in question.

Thus, when you see a network cable is unplugged message, it means something in your Windows 11/10 computer is preventing it from accessing Internet. Both software and hardware issues can cause this problem. As the name suggests, there is an actual physical network cable inside the laptop panel or PC cabinet which may have run into a snag. By following each of these steps in order, you will be able to troubleshoot the error.

Software Issues

For software troubleshooting, we operate under the assumption that there are no broken network adapters or Ethernet cables, but a few network details misconfigured. Correcting the exact root cause will immediately display the Internet icon once again.

Disable and Enable Network Adapter

There are mainly two ways we get our Internet signal from a wireless/wired network. Most laptops use a wireless network adapter such as Qualcomm Atheros AR956x. Standalone desktop PCs (but even laptops) might prefer an Ethernet adapter such as Realtek PCIe GbE Family Controller.

Some network cable unplugged issues can be temporary and if it appears there are no major faults, disabling and re-enabling these adapters will resolve the problem.

  1. On Windows , open “Control panel” from the search menu.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Control Panel
  1. Select “Network and Internet” option in the “Adjust your computer’s settings” page.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Control Panel Network And Internet
  1. Once you’re in the “Network and Sharing Center”, click “View network status and tasks” underneath.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Control Panel Network Status Tasks
  1. Select “Change adapter settings” in “Network and Sharing Center”. This will take you to all the available network adapters on your PC or laptop.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Change Adaptor Settings
  1. You should now be able to view the various network adapters for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet. If you’re on a laptop, select the Wi-Fi adapter. If you get your Internet from an Ethernet cable, select the corresponding option. Right-click on the correct network adapter for you and disable it.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Wi Fi Disable
  1. Wait a few minutes and enable the disconnected adapter by right-clicking on your option again and selecting Enable. You will see an “Enabling Wi-Fi” message following which the Internet icon will be back up again.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Wi Fi Enable

Redo the Network Stack

Every computer network has a networking stack which provides a connection between the device and network. There are chances that the stack is encountering errors while trying to connect. Redoing the entire stack architecture is an effective way of rejigging your device Internet.

  1. The network stack will be reset using a few commands on the command prompt app which can be opened via search. Make sure you run it as administrator.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Cmd Admin Mode
  1. Once the command prompt window is visible, type ipconfig/release followed by Enter.

Note: if you encounter a “No operation can be performed on Ethernet while it has its media disconnected,” ignore it and proceed to the next step.

Windows Network Cable Unplugged Ipconfig Release
  1. Next, type ipconfig/flushdns followed by Enter. This will flush the DNS Resolver Cache.
Windows Network Cable Ipconfig Flushdns
  1. Now type ipconfig/renew followed by Enter. Again, ignore any problem or error messages. They are not important.
Windows Network Cable Ipconfig Renew 1
  1. The renew command will disconnect your media state and link new local, temporary and permanent IPv4/IPv6 addresses.
Windows Network Cable Ipconfig Renew 2
  1. Once the renew command is finished, type netsh int ip reset which will reset the network adapters. The screen will have several resetting sequences such as compartment forwarding, multicast address, proxy neighbor, and so forth.
Windows Network Cable Netsh Int Ip Reset
  1. After the reset stage, the computer will prompt you to restart. Hold it for a while. You need to enter one last command: netsh winsock reset. Once it displays the message “Successfully reset the Winsock Catalog,” you can restart the computer from the Start menu. Redoing the network stack will put your device back online.
Windows Network Cable Netsh Winsock Reset

Run an Internet Connection Troubleshooter

Both Windows 11 and 10 have a built-in Internet connection troubleshooter which is a quick way to identify the exact cause of disconnection. If there are any hardware issues due to network adapter, this is where you diagnose the problem.

  1. Search for “Find and fix network problems” in the search menu. You can also locate it in “Control panel” from the “Network and Sharing Center.”
Windows Network Cable Find And Fix Network Search Mrenu
  1. The Windows Troubleshooting wizard will prompt you to “Troubleshoot and help prevent computer problems”. Click Advanced at the bottom for more options.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Troubleshoot Internet Connections
  1. Check the box for “Apply repairs automatically” if you want the network unplugged error issue resolved by the troubleshooter.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Apply Repairs Automatically
  1. Wait for the Troubleshooting wizard to complete the troubleshooting steps. If any software issues are holding your network connection hostage, they will be fixed automatically. If there are any hardware issues such as with network adapters, you will get the full details in a report.
Windows Network Cable No Issues Detected

Configure BIOS Settings to Allow Internet

The BIOS sits at the heart of your Windows computer’s Internet access. It facilitates the various adapters including for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet. Any disabling of BIOS level connectivity could cause the network cable unplugged error.

To access BIOS, you need to restart your Windows 11/10 computer in safe mode. First find out the exact laptop model name. Go to “About your PC” to learn about your device make, model and year. Then you can go to your computer manufacturer website to find out the specific boot keys for that device. It’s usually F2, F6, F12, Del, or Esc.

Windows Network Cable Unplugged About Pc
  1. Restart your Windows PC and quickly hit the correct boot key.
  2. This will take you to your device’s boot environment and BIOS mode. From the available options, find out the “Network Controller Configuration” for your specific device.
Windows Network Cable Lan Controller Enabled
  1. Make sure the connection with LAN Controller is not disabled. If it is, check the box for “Enabled with PXE.
  2. To apply the changes, restart your computer.

Hardware Issues

Your Windows PC or laptop may have a few hardware issues which could prevent it from connecting to the Internet. It could be due to battery issues, faulty wireless adapter or just a lot of dust building up over time. If you suspect hardware fault, try the following solutions in sequence.

Shut Down and Restart

Often a simple shut down and restart can fix the disconnection issues with a Wi-Fi adapter. If you’re on a laptop, you need to power the computer down completely. Then take out the battery (if possible, on some models you won’t be able to without taking out some screws) either by sliding it out of its laptop location or eject it out by pressing a dedicated button (depends on your laptop model.) If using a desktop PC, just unplug all power sources.

After a few minutes, you need to reinsert the battery (for laptop) and make sure it fits properly in the device. Once done, restart the laptop to check if the network cable unplugged error is gone.

Reset the Ethernet Authentication Settings

If your computer’s Internet is powered by Ethernet cable, resetting its authentication settings can fix any network cable unplugged issues. We earlier saw how to fix the Ethernet adapter. Here we will redo its entire configuration.

  1. On Windows, search for “Ethernet settings” under System settings.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Ethernet Settings
  1. Once the Ethernet authentication settings page is visible, you can see that its authentication settings can be edited.
  2. For this, you need to first disconnect the Ethernet cable from your device. After that, reinsert it and turn the “Enable IEEE 802.1X authentication” back as On.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Enable Ethernet Settings
  1. Save the online configuration and check if the network status has returned to online.

Remove Dust from Cover Panel and Reconnect/Change Network Adapter

If your wireless network adapter is at fault, or if there is a lot of dust accumulated inside the device, it is time for some serious hardware fixes. While these steps might seem complicated, they are actually very easy to do.

WARNING: The following instructions should only be tried if you know how to open a laptop case properly. Remember that opening your laptop’s back lid will void its warranty with the manufacturer. For any repairs within the warranty period, take your computer to an authorized service center. Even when you have an older device no longer covered by warranty, seek professional help if you don’t feel confident repairing yourself.

  1. Shut down the laptop and flip it to view its bottom panel. Use a screwdriver to remove all its screws.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Laptop Bottom
  1. After removing the battery and panel, you will be able to view the laptop motherboard with all the components including the WLAN adapter card. Dust off the entire area as this dust could be interfering with the cable’s connectivity.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Laptop Inside Components
  1. The wireless network adapter card is a small chip-like board attached to the rest of the motherboard using two antenna wires. If you examine it closely, you should be able to observe its WLAN MAC ID and Bluetooth MAC ID.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Wi Fi Adaptor Card With Macid
  1. With a twist and gentle flick of a finger, remove the WLAN adapter card. Don’t exert too much pressure on the antenna wires as they can snap easily.
  2. Reinsert the WLAN adapter card back in place. The adapter snugly fits into its area like a SIM card does in its slot on a phone.
  3. Screw back the bottom panel (it’s tedious!) and make sure the laptop compartment is fit snugly. Restart the device and any network cable unplugged issues will have been resolved.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Wi Fi Adaptor Card For Laptop

Add Another USB Wireless Adapter

If your laptop’s internal WLAN adapter card is faulty or not working properly, you will have to replace it. You can find the correct adapters for your specific model online. However, you can also use a USB wireless adapter which works like a charm in getting you back online. This is indeed a magic bullet solution for all network cable unplugged error issues.

Most wireless USB adapters just have a tiny USB port-like device that can easily fit into your laptop or desktop PC ports. No installation is necessary in Windows 11/latest models of Windows 10, and these adapters work based on a plug-and-play mechanism.

  1. As soon as you insert the USB adapter, you should see an arrow next to your Wi-Fi icon in the Action Center. This refers to another Wi-Fi adapter that your Windows device can connect with.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Action Center Alternate Wi Fi Connections
  1. From a drop-down menu, you can see the additional Wi-Fi adapters (Wi-Fi 2 etc.) apart from the main one.
  2. Select Wi-Fi 2 if its source is the USB adapter.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged Wi Fi Wi Fi2
  1. You will need to re-enter the network security key for the wireless USB adapter just once. The computer will connect online in no time.
Windows Network Cable Unplugged New Wi Fi Network Password

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can my router/modem cause network cable unplugged error issue?

Network cable unplugged error always refers to network adapter problems on your Windows laptop or PC. If something is wrong with your router/modem, you will get a status message like “No connections” or “Network disconnected.” So a router or modem has no relation with network cable unplugged messages.

2. Why is my Windows device failing to recognize my wireless adapter?

If your Windows computer can’t detect a wireless adapter, it means a WLAN or Ethernet adapter is not present in your Device Manager. Enter Win + R to start the Run command menu and type devmgmt.msc. In the list of devices, go to Network adapters category. Make sure none of these devices have been disabled. If they are, enable them with a right-click. You can also update the drivers from Properties although you don’t have to do it manually when you update your Windows computer frequently.

3. How do I fix “No Internet, secured” message in Windows?

There are many other kinds of Internet disconnection messages in Windows. To fix “No Internet, secured” message, follow the steps here.

Image credit: Unsplash

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