How to Fix a Missing Network Adapter in Windows 10?

A missing network adapter in Windows 10 can be a frustrating roadblock, preventing you from accessing the internet and connecting to your network. This issue can occur for various reasons but fear not – in this comprehensive guide, we will explore the common causes behind a missing network adapter and provide step-by-step instructions to help you resolve it. Let’s get started on the journey to restore your network connectivity.


Why Does the Network Adapter Go Missing?

A network adapter can go missing in a Windows 10 computer due to various reasons. Understanding these underlying causes is essential for effectively troubleshooting and resolving the issue. Here are some common reasons why a network adapter might disappear:

1. Driver Issues:

One of the most common reasons for a missing network adapter is driver-related problems. Outdated, corrupted, or incompatible network adapter drivers can lead to the disappearance of the adapter in Device Manager.

2. Windows Updates:

Sometimes, after a Windows update, conflicts can arise between the newly installed update and the existing network adapter drivers. This conflict may result in the network adapter becoming inaccessible or missing.

3. Hardware Problems:

Physical hardware issues can also cause a network adapter to go missing. Loose or disconnected network adapter cards or cables can lead to a loss of connectivity.

4. Software Conflicts:

Third-party software applications, particularly security or firewall programs, can interfere with network adapters. These applications may block or disable network adapters for security reasons, causing them to appear as missing.

5. Disabled Network Adapter:

In some cases, users might accidentally disable their network adapters in the Network and Sharing Center or in the Device Manager, causing them to appear as missing.

6. Malware or Viruses:

Malware or viruses can infect a computer and disrupt its network functionality. These malicious programs may disable network adapters as part of their malicious activities.

7. Operating System Glitches:

Windows operating systems can sometimes experience glitches that affect hardware detection and functionality, including network adapters.

8. Network Stack Corruption:

The network stack, which is responsible for managing network communication, can become corrupted. This can lead to network adapters not being recognized.

9. Power Management Settings:

Some power management settings can disable network adapters to conserve power. These settings may result in network adapters appearing as missing when they are actually turned off to save energy.

10. Physical Damage:

Physical damage to the network adapter or its connections can cause it to stop functioning correctly or become unrecognized by the computer’s operating system.


It’s important to troubleshoot and address the specific cause of the missing network adapter based on your situation. By identifying the root cause, you can take appropriate steps to resolve the issue, whether it involves updating drivers, checking hardware connections, or addressing software conflicts.

1: Restart Your Computer

A simple but effective solution to resolve minor network adapter issues is to restart your computer. This action can clear temporary glitches and reset network settings.

  1. Save any unsaved work.
  2. Click on the Windows Start button.
  3. Select “Restart.”
  4. Wait for your computer to reboot, and check if the network adapter has reappeared.
2: Check Device Manager

The Device Manager is a powerful tool to diagnose and fix hardware-related issues, including missing network adapters.

  1. Press the Windows key + X and select “Device Manager.”
  2. Expand the “Network adapters” section.
  3. If you see your network adapter with a yellow triangle or a disabled status, right-click on it and choose “Enable” or “Update driver.”
3: Update or Roll Back Network Adapter Drivers

Outdated or incompatible drivers can lead to a missing network adapter. To update or roll back the drivers:

  1. In the Device Manager, right-click on your network adapter.
  2. Select “Update driver.”
  3. Choose “Search automatically for updated driver software” and follow the on-screen instructions. If updating doesn’t work, try rolling back to a previous driver version.
4: Run the Network Troubleshooter

Windows includes built-in troubleshooters to diagnose and fix common issues, including network adapter problems.

  1. Go to “Settings” (Windows key + I).
  2. Click on “Update & Security.”
  3. Choose “Troubleshoot” from the left sidebar.
  4. Under “Find and fix other problems,” select “Internet Connections.”
  5. Follow the prompts to complete the troubleshooting process.
 5: Reinstall the Network Adapter

If none of the above solutions work, you can try reinstalling the network adapter.

  1. In the Device Manager, right-click on your network adapter.
  2. Select “Uninstall device.”
  3. Restart your computer.
  4. Windows will automatically reinstall the missing network adapter.
6. Use a Restore Point:

If you recently installed software or updates that might have caused the issue, you can use a restore point to revert your system to a previous state when the network adapter was functioning correctly.

7. Check Windows 10’s Background Services:

Ensure that essential network-related services are running. You can do this by:

Pressing Win + R, typing “services.msc,” and hitting Enter.

Find services like “WLAN AutoConfig,” “Network List Service,” and “Network Location Awareness” and ensure they are set to “Automatic” and are running.

8. Clean Up Your Network Devices:

Sometimes, old or unused network devices can clutter your system. Clean up unused network devices by:

Pressing Win + X and selecting “Device Manager.”

Under “View,” select “Show hidden devices.”

Expand “Network adapters,” right-click on any grayed-out or unused devices, and choose “Uninstall.”

9. Reset the Winsock Settings:

setting the Winsock settings can resolve network-related issues:

Open Command Prompt as an administrator.

Type “netsh winsock reset” and press Enter.

Restart your computer.

10. Check Your Power Management Settings:

Ensure that your network adapter isn’t set to be turned off to conserve power:

Go to “Device Manager.”

Right-click on your network adapter and choose “Properties.”

Under the “Power Management” tab, uncheck “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.”

11. Use the Network Reset Tool:

Windows 10 includes a network reset feature that can help:

Go to “Settings” > “Network & Internet.”

Scroll down and click on “Network reset” under “Advanced network settings.”

Follow the on-screen instructions to reset your network settings.

12. Turn Off Your Antivirus and VPN:

Some security software or VPNs may interfere with network adapters. Temporarily disable them and check if your network adapter reappears.

13. Remove the Battery From Your Laptop:

If you’re using a laptop, turning it off, removing the battery (if possible), and holding the power button for about 15 seconds can help reset hardware components and resolve issues.

14. Show the Hidden Drivers in Windows 10:

Sometimes, network adapters may be hidden in the Device Manager:

In Device Manager, click on “View” and select “Show hidden devices.” Check if your network adapter is listed under “Network adapters” and if it’s grayed out, right-click and uninstall it. Then restart your computer.

These solutions should help you diagnose and fix the issue of a missing network adapter in Windows 10. Try them one by one until you find the one that works for your specific situation.

Conclusion: Regain Control of Your Network Adapter

A missing network adapter in Windows 10 can be a frustrating experience, but with the solutions outlined above, you can usually resolve the issue quickly. Whether it’s a driver problem, a simple glitch, or a conflict with Windows updates, these steps should help you get your network adapter back on track. Don’t let a missing network adapter disrupt your connectivity – follow these steps and enjoy uninterrupted internet access on your Windows 10 computer.

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