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How to diagnose and resolve Windows 10 Wi-Fi connectivity problems

Wi-Fi connectivity in Windows 10 is a persistent problem for IT. Use the network troubleshooter or reset the device configuration to solve this issue fast.

Few problems frustrate users faster than not being able to connect to a Wi-Fi network. Thankfully, there are some tried-and-true methods to resolve Windows 10 Wi-Fi connectivity problems.

Before diving headfirst into troubleshooting the problem, check the basics. Make sure the device is close enough to the access point to ensure a reliable signal. It's also a good idea to make sure other devices are not experiencing problems and can connect to the access point. That way, you can determine if the access point or the specific device is the source of the issue.

Check for sources of interference, as well. Microwave ovens and cordless phones can interfere with some older Wi-Fi networks.

Check the Wi-Fi icon

The Windows 10 Wi-Fi icon in the taskbar gives useful information about the Wi-Fi network. If the wireless symbol within the icon is white, Windows is connected to the wireless access point, even if network communications are not working. Conversely, a grayed out wireless symbol with a white dot in the upper left corner of the icon indicates Windows is not connected to the wireless network. A red X within the icon usually indicates that the wireless network adapter is disabled or malfunctioning. An airplane symbol indicates the device is in airplane mode, and Wi-Fi is turned off.

Check for network connectivity

If the Wi-Fi icon indicates the device can connect to the wireless access point, then the Windows 10 Wi-Fi connectivity problems are most likely related to IP communications across the wireless network. As such, it is a good idea to check the IP address configuration.

In most cases, a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server or the access point itself, which acts as a DHCP server, assigns the device's IP address. Check the device's IP address settings by opening a Command Prompt window and entering the following command:

The Windows 10 Wi-Fi icon in the taskbar gives you useful information about the Wi-Fi network.

IPConfig /all

This command lists the IP address configuration for all the device's network adapters. Find the listing for the wireless adapter and make sure it is assigned to an IP address within the correct address range. If it is not assigned to an address, or if the address seems to belong to an invalid scope, try releasing and reacquiring the IP address by using these commands:

IPConfig /Release

IPConfig /Renew

If this does not fix Windows 10 Wi-Fi connectivity problems, check the wireless access point or DHCP server to ensure the pool of available IP addresses is not depleted. If you discover the device is assigned a valid IP address, but it is still unable to communicate with the private network or the internet, check to make sure the wireless network adapter is configured to use the correct domain name system server.

Run the network troubleshooter

If you still have not resolved the problem, you should turn to Windows 10's network troubleshooter by opening the Control Panel, clicking on Network and Internet, followed by Network and Sharing Center and Troubleshoot Problems. The network troubleshooter is designed to automatically detect and repair common configuration issues.

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Simplify the device's configuration

Windows 10 Wi-Fi connectivity problems may be the result of another component on the system, rather than a network configuration problem. If the problem persists, temporarily disable anything that could potentially interfere with the connection. If that fixes the problem, then you should re-enable everything you disabled, one thing at a time, to test each item. Windows Firewall, antivirus software, virtual private network (VPN) software, network monitoring software and Hyper-V have all been known to cause Windows 10 Wi-Fi connectivity problems.

Reset the network configuration

You can also try resetting the network configuration as a last attempt. To do so, click on Settings, followed by Network and Internet and Status. Once at the Status screen, click the Network Reset link. This causes Windows to remove network adapters and any related settings from the registry to reinstall.

Be sure to check the Windows event logs for clues. If Wi-Fi has not worked since upgrading to Windows 10 from an earlier version of Windows, you should remove and replace the user's network interface card driver and any legacy VPN software.

Next Steps

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This was last published in June 2017

Dig Deeper on Microsoft Windows 10 operating system

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