How to Fix Missing Network Adapters in Windows?

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How to Fix Missing Network Adapters in Windows

You may not see the network adapter in the Device Manager at times. This is ideally not a major issue, and it can be fixed with some simple fixes.

However, sometimes the simple fixes may not resolve the issue, for which you will need to follow some other methods.

If you are not aware of them, this is the right place to be. Read this article to learn about the different solutions, the reasons for this event, and the steps to follow to fix the issue.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Go to Settings from Start and choose Network & Internet to run the network troubleshooter and fix the issue of missing network adapters.
  • Run specific commands in the Command Prompt to reset the Winsock catalog and reinstall the WAN Miniports.
  • Another simple and easy fix for the issue is to reset the network.
  • You may try fixing the issues by reinstalling the latest driver for your network adapter from the official website of your PC manufacturer.
  • Sometimes resetting the power management and adding legacy hardware may also bring the network adapters back into the Device Manager.

Why is Your Network Adapter Missing?

One of the most common reasons for the network adapter to be missing from the Device Manager is an old network card driver.

Some other common reasons for a missing network adapter in Windows are:

  • The network adapter is disabled somehow.
  • The network services may be disabled.
  • The WAN Miniports may need to be reinstalled.
  • The drivers of the modem may also need a fresh installation.
  • There may be issues with the DNS and the Winsock catalog.
  • The power management settings may need to be reset.
  • The antivirus software may be conflicting with the other drivers and software.
  • The Virtual Private Network or VPN service may be interfering and needs to be turned off.

There may also be issues with the network connections. So, check them first and then move on to the following fixes.

Ways to Fix Missing Network Adapters in Windows

How to Fix Missing Network Adapters in Windows

The first method, and perhaps the easiest fix for network adapters missing in Windows, is to reboot the system and run the network troubleshooter.

This will scan the issues and fix them. You will simply have to apply the fix and restart your system.

If you are using an Ethernet cable, there may be issues with the connection itself. Unplug the cable and plug it back in. Most of the time, this will resolve the issue.

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In addition to that, there are also some easy and comparatively complex fixes to this issue, such as:

  • Enabling WWAN and WLAN auto-configuration
  • Fixing the errors in the Application Programming Interface (API) of the sockets and ports
  • Uninstalling all WAN Miniports and reinstalling them
  • Resetting the Winsock catalog
  • Resetting the network
  • Install the latest network driver or rollback the update, as the case may be
  • Reset the power management settings

Simply go through the next section of this article, and you will know about the specific steps to follow for each of the solutions to fix missing network adapters in Windows.

Method 1: Check and Enable the Adapter

Simply re-enabling the network adapter may make it visible in the Device Manager once again.

STEPS TO FIX:

  • Go to Start > Right-click > Choose Device Manager.
  • Go to Network adapters.
  • Click on the small arrow next to it to expand it.
  • Go to the View tab at the top and click on it.
  • Select Show hidden devices.

Show hidden devices

  • Now go to the Action tab beside View on the top.
  • Click on it.
  • Select Scan for hardware changes.

Scan for hardware changes

This will automatically scan and re-enable the network adapter to make it visible again. If you still do not find the missing adapter, move on to the next solution.

Method 2: Enable Network Services

Sometimes, specific network services may be disabled. You will have to re-enable it to bring the missing network adapters back.

STEPS TO FIX:

  • Go to Start > type services > press Enter.
  • Scroll down the Services page to find WLAN AutoConfig and WWAN AutoConfig under Services (Local).
  • Right-click on WLAN AutoConfig.
  • Select Properties from the drop-down menu.

WLAN AutoConfig Properties

  • Click on the arrow in the box next to Startup type.
  • Select Automatic from the drop-down options.
  • Click on Start.
  • Click on the Apply button.
  • Then click on the OK button.

Select Automatic WLAN AutoConfig Properties

Repeat the same process for WWAN AutoConfig. This might resolve the issue. If it does not, then try the next solution.

Method 3: Check for Socket API Errors

Most often there may be errors in the Application Programming Interface of the sockets or ports. You will need to find and fix these errors to resolve the issue of missing network adapters in Windows.

STEPS TO FIX:

  • Go to Search > Type cmd > select Run as administrator > hit Enter.
  • When the Command Prompt opens, type the command ipconfig /flushdns.
  • Hit Enter.
  • When this command is executed successfully, type in another command netsh winsock reset.
  • Hit Enter.
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netsh winsock reset

When the process is complete, restart your system and check.

If you still cannot see your network adapters, you will need to run an additional command netcfg -d in the Command Prompt as admin again and hit Enter.

It will check and reinstall the WAN Miniports.

netcfg -d

If you still see errors in it, type this command multiple times until the return result informs you that there are no errors and you can restart the system and check for them, as shown in the above image.

Method 4: Perform a System Restore

If the above methods and even resetting the network cannot bring back the missing network adapters, you should try performing a system restore to resolve the issue.

STEPS TO FIX:

  • Press the Windows and R keys together on your keyboard.
  • In the Run box, type rstrui.exe.
  • Hit Enter or press the OK button on the window.

rstrui.exe

  • When the System Restore window opens, click on the Next button.

System Restore

  • Now, choose a restore point displayed in the box from an earlier date when the network adapter was working fine.
  • Click on the Next button.

choose a restore point

(If you do not see enough restore points, you can check the small box next to Show more restore points, shown in the image above.)

When the system has completed restoring, restart your PC and check whether or not the missing adapters are back in the Device Manager.

Method 5: Reinstall the Latest Network Driver

Sometimes, if the network driver is not up-to-date, it may prevent the adapters from being displayed in the Device Manager. The obvious fix for this issue is to install the latest driver.

STEPS TO FIX:

  • Open your web browser.
  • Go to the official website of your PC manufacturer.
  • Search for the latest network drivers.
  • Click on Download.
  • Restart your system and check it.

Sometimes, even installing updates may not resolve the issue. On the contrary, it may be the reason for the issue in the first place. In that case, you will need to rollback the network driver update in the following way:

  • Open Device Manager by typing devmgmt.msc in the Run box.
  • Expand Network adapters as before.
  • Double-click on your network adapter.
  • Go to the Drivers tab in the new window that appears.
  • Click on the Rollback driver button.

Go to the Drivers tab

  • Then, click on the OK button.

Method 6: Add Legacy Hardware

If the above methods fail to restore the network adapters, sometimes adding legacy hardware may fix the issue.

STEPS TO FIX:

  • Open Device Manager.
  • Select and expand the Network adapters.
  • Click on the Action tab.
  • Select Add legacy hardware.

Add Legacy Hardware

  • When you see the Welcome to the Add Hardware Wizard window, click on the Next button.
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Welcome to the Add Hardware Wizard

  • In the following Add Hardware window, click on the small circle next to ‘Install the hardware that I manually select from a list (Advanced).
  • Click on the Next button.

Install the hardware that I manually select from a list (Advanced)

  • In the next window, scroll down a little bit to find Modems.
  • Click on it, and then click on the Next button.

scroll down a little bit to find Modems

In the new window, make sure that the small box next to Don’t detect my modem, I will select it from a list is unchecked.

Don’t detect my modem, I will select it from a list

Finally, click on the Next button on all windows to finish the process. This will set up the network adapter.

You may also do the same for the Network adapters.

Network adapters

However, in this case, you will need to know the manufacturer and model of your network adapter first.

  • Select them from the relevant boxes of Manufacturer and Model, and click on the Next button.

Know the manufacturer and model of your network adapter

Your network adapters will be visible again when you restart the system.

Method 7: Check Power Management Settings

Sometimes, there may be a few issues in the power management that you will need to reset in order to bring back the network adapters in the Device Manager.

STEPS TO FIX:

  • Open Device Manager and select your network adapter.
  • Right-click on it and select Properties.
  • When the new window appears, go to the Power Management tab.
  • If it is checked, make sure that the ‘Allow the Computer to turn off this device to save power’ option is unchecked.
  • Click on the OK button.

Uncheck allow the Computer to turn off this device to save power

Conclusion

As you can see, there are quite a few easy fixes to the issue with the network adapter missing in Windows.

Often, even a single simple solution like rebooting the system may resolve the issue, but at times you may need to try multiple fixes.

Well, now that you know about them all, it should not be a problem for you.

About Puja Chatterjee

AvatarPuja Chatterjee, a distinguished technical writer, boasts an extensive and nuanced understanding of computer technology. She is an esteemed graduate of the Bengal Institute of Management Studies (BIMS), where she honed her skills and knowledge in the tech domain. Over the span of more than 12 years, Puja has developed a deep expertise that encompasses not only technology writing, where she articulates complex technical concepts with clarity and precision, but also in the realm of client relationship management. Her experience in this area is characterized by her ability to effectively communicate and engage with clients, ensuring their needs are met with the highest level of professionalism and understanding of their technical requirements. Puja's career is marked by a commitment to excellence in both written communication within the tech industry and fostering strong, productive relationships with clients.

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Puja Chatterjee
Puja Chatterjee, a distinguished technical writer, boasts an extensive and nuanced understanding of computer technology. She is an esteemed graduate of the Bengal Institute of Management Studies (BIMS), where she honed her skills and knowledge in the tech domain. Over the span of more than 12 years, Puja has developed a deep expertise that encompasses not only technology writing, where she articulates complex technical concepts with clarity and precision, but also in the realm of client relationship management. Her experience in this area is characterized by her ability to effectively communicate and engage with clients, ensuring their needs are met with the highest level of professionalism and understanding of their technical requirements. Puja's career is marked by a commitment to excellence in both written communication within the tech industry and fostering strong, productive relationships with clients.
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