How to resolve Windows 10 Wi-Fi problems after an upgrade

A legacy VPN client or driver problem can cause Wi-Fi connectivity issues after a Windows 10 upgrade. Don't let it happen to you.

After upgrading from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 to Microsoft's latest operating system, it is not uncommon for organizations to experience Windows 10 Wi-Fi problems.

It is a pervasive problem, but it does not have one underlying cause. There are actually two main issues that can cause Windows 10 Wi-Fi problems following an upgrade.

A legacy VPN client

One of the most common causes of Windows 10 Wi-Fi problems is the presence of a legacy VPN client. If a computer running Windows 8.1 has a VPN client installed, Wi-Fi may cease to function following a Windows 10 upgrade, according to Microsoft. There have also been unconfirmed reports that the issue also affects upgrades from Windows 7 to Windows 10. The issue is most commonly associated with Wi-Fi connectivity, but it has been known to cause problems with wired network adapters, as well.

It is a pervasive problem, but it does not have one underlying cause.

Microsoft's original fix for the problem involved deleting a specific registry key and then using the netcfg command to reconfigure the network adapter. The exact commands are Reg delete HKCR\CLSID\{988248f3-a1ad-49bf-9170-676cbbc36ba3} /f and Netcfg -v -u dni_dne.

This method does work to restore Wi-Fi connectivity, but Microsoft discourages it because if admins accidentally mistype any part of the Reg command, they can accidentally delete the registry, which can damage Windows and applications. As such, Microsoft created an automatic troubleshooting utility to safely repair the problem.

Driver problems

Windows 10 Wi-Fi problems may also crop up after an upgrade because of device driver problems. In some instances, the device driver from the earlier version of Windows may not be compatible with Windows 10. In other cases, Windows 10 may misidentify the Wi-Fi adapter.

If admins suspect a driver problem is to blame, they can use the Windows Device Manager to determine the state of the device.

To do so, first log into the computer using an account with administrative privileges. Next, right-click on the Start button and choose the Device Manager command from the shortcut menu. When the Device Manager opens, locate the Network Adapters container and expand it, if necessary, to see the individual network adapters (Figure A).

Network adapters
Locate the network adapters.

Admins must then determine whether or not Windows identified the network adapter correctly. In either case, it's a good idea to back up the computer before continuing.

If the network adapter name in the Device Manager does not match the hardware installed on the computer, admins must get rid of the existing driver. The easiest way to do so is to right-click on the network adapter and choose the Uninstall command from the shortcut menu (Figure B).

Uninstall command
Choose the Uninstall command to remove the driver.

Now, right-click on the computer name and choose the Scan for Hardware Changes command from the shortcut menu (Figure C). 

Hardware change scans
Scan the computer for hardware changes.

With any luck, Windows will then correctly identify the device. In many cases, however, the device will still be misidentified. In these situations, admins must change the device driver.

To do so, right-click on the network adapter and choose the Update Driver Software command. Then, choose the option to browse the computer for driver software (Figure D). Admins must download the correct driver and save it to the computer so they can point Windows to the driver they want to use.

Find the correct driver
Browse the computer for the correct driver.

Windows does provide an option to search automatically for an updated device driver, but this option almost never works. It usually causes Windows to display a message stating that the best driver is already installed (Figure E).

Search for a driver
Automatically searching for a driver usually does not work.

Next Steps

Windows 10 bugs to keep an eye out for

Five common Windows 10 problems and how to solve them

How an in-place upgrade can repair Windows 10

Dig Deeper on Windows 10