Sometimes on a Windows computer your Ethernet or WiFi adapter will seemingly become inaccessible. This document provides suggestions for what to do when this happens.

If you notice this with your WiFi connection, with a laptop computer it may be that WiFi is turned off. There could be a key on your keyboard that turns WiFi on and off. That key would usually be on the top row and be identified with an icon that looks like a small antenna. There could also be a switch or button on the top or sides of your laptop computer. When turned on there may be an illuminated LED indicator light, or perhaps some other indication of the WiFi being on or off.

In some situations, the WiFi or Ethernet become inaccessible to Windows. They don’t even show up in Device Manager. It’s as if the computer does not have a WiFi card or Ethernet port. Usually, reinstalling Windows will make those devices work again, but that is time consuming. An alternative would be to purchase a USB to Ethernet or USB WiFi adapter. Examples of these are below.

  • USB to Ethernet. The brand UGREEN is usually good quality and their adapter is about $12. [View/Buy]
  • USB WiFi Adapter. An inexpensive WiFi adapter from TP-Link is sometimes on sale for about $7. [View/Buy] There is another model from TP-Link that includes an antenna which could provide slightly better signal reception, speed, range, and reliability. The cost is about $17. [View/Buy]