Every device or peripheral connected to the PC requires a driver to facilitate the relay of commands between itself and the OS. You have drivers for keyboards, printers, Wi-Fi, ethernet, speakers, microphones, to name a few. If any of these malfunctions or corrupts, you may encounter problems while using the device, or may it may not function at all.

Ethernet, in simple words, refers to wired network connections. Before Wi-Fi came into the picture, people relied on ethernet connections for accessing the internet and other networking needs. Also, ethernet connections are far more reliable and secure as compared to wireless connections, however, they do not offer as much mobility as wireless connections. But, that’s a debate for another day.

If you are unable to connect to the network via the ethernet, it’s most likely your driver that’s behind the error. Fixing the error is rather simple, and wouldn’t take a lot of time. Before we move to the fixes, let’s first understand the various driver issues that lead to errors with the ethernet.

What are the Various Driver Issues?

There are various driver issues that prevent you from establishing a secure ethernet connection.

  • Outdated drivers
  • Corrupt drivers
  • A minor glitch that prevents the driver from working efficiently
  • Issues with the hardware affect the driver
  • Ethernet Adapter is disabled

Now that you have a basic understanding of the various issues that might prevent you from accessing the internet using ethernet, it’s time we walk you through the various fixes. The fixes have been listed in increasing order of complexity, hence start with the first one and move your way down the list for a quick and simple troubleshooting process.

1. Some Basic Checks

Before we move to the fixes, here are some basic preliminary checks for trivial issues.

Check if the ethernet cable is securely connected to your computer. A loosely connected cable can also lead to issues preventing you from accessing the internet.

  • Check if the ethernet cable is securely connected to the modem/router. Unplug and replug it and check if that helps.
  • Also check that the same cable is connected to both the computer and the modem/router. Often times, after executing various intricate fixes, users realize that the two cables are different.
  • Verify that the cable is not damaged.
  • Restart the modem/router. To do that, unplug the modem/router from the power source and replug it after a minute. Some modem/routers have built-in batteries, so make sure you remove them after disconnecting from the power source.

Let’s now move to the fixes that you execute on the computer.

2. Check if the Ethernet Adapter is Disabled

If the ethernet adapter is disabled, you wouldn’t be able to connect even after connecting the ethernet cable. Now, there are two ways you can disable the ethernet adapter, either from the ‘Network Connections’ window or the ‘Device Manager’. But verifying through one of these and enabling the adapter would do since the changes reflect through the system.

To check if the ethernet adapter is disabled from the Device Manager, right-click on the ‘Start’ icon in the Taskbar or press WINDOWS + X to launch the Quick Access menu, and select ‘Device Manager’ from the list of options.

In Device Manager, locate the ‘Network adapters’ and double-click on it to view the various adapters under it.

Next, right-click on the ethernet adapter and check if you see a ‘Disable device’ or ‘Enable device’ option. In the case of the former, the device is already enabled while if find the latter, the ethernet adapter is disabled. Select ‘Enable device’ to enable the ethernet adapter.

The issue should be resolved by now and you would be able to connect to the network.

3. Restart the PC

If the ethernet adapter wasn’t disabled or enabling it didn’t solve the problem, try restarting the computer. Restarting the computer is one of the simple troubleshooting techniques that helps resolve a lot of errors pertaining to memory allocation or other trivial issues.

Once the system restarts, check if the issue is resolved and you are able to connect to the network.

4. Run Network Adapter Troubleshooter

Microsoft offers a bunch of built-in troubleshooters to diagnose and fix the problems in your system, and this includes the network troubleshooter to fix problems pertaining to network connectivity. Although it only fixes the problems that are known to Microsoft, we recommend giving it a shot since most of the problems are covered under its ambit.

To run the ‘Network’ troubleshooter, right-click on the ‘Start’ icon in the Taskbar or press WINDOWS + X to launch the Quick Access menu, and select ‘Settings’ from the list of options. Alternatively, you can press WINDOWS + I to directly launch the ‘Settings’ app.

In the ‘System’ tab, select ‘Troubleshoot’ on the right.

Next, click on ‘Other troubleshooters’ to view the various ones available.

Now, locate the ‘Network Adapter’ troubleshooter and click on ‘Run’ next to it to start the troubleshooting process.

It will run for a while to identify any problems and then present you with the available network adapters. Select ‘Ethernet’ and click on ‘Next’ at the bottom to diagnose and fix the problems with the ethernet adapter.

Choose the appropriate response whenever prompted to complete the troubleshooting process.

5. Reinstall the Driver

You could also be encountering issues with the ethernet adapter in case of corrupt drivers. The issues you encounter vary depending upon various factors but reinstalling the driver should fix them as long as they are due to a corrupt driver.

To reinstall the driver, launch the ‘Device Manager’ as discussed earlier, double-click on the ‘Network Adapters’ option to view the various adapters.

Next, right-click on the ethernet adapter and select ‘Uninstall device’ from the context menu.

In the warning box that pops up, select the checkbox for ‘Attempt to remove the driver for this device’ and then click on ‘Uninstall’ to remove the driver.

After the device is uninstalled, restart the computer and Windows will automatically install a fresh driver for the device. Check if this fixes the issues you were encountering earlier with ethernet.

6. Update Driver

If reinstalling the driver doesn’t fix the issue, you can try updating it. Running an older version of the driver can also lead to instabilities. There are three ways you can update a driver, either through the ‘Device Manager’, ‘Windows Update’, and ‘Manufacturer’s Website’. We will walk you through each of the methods in the same sequence.

Let’s see how you can update the driver from the Device Manager.

Note: With the Device Manager method, you can only install the driver update if it already exists on the system.

In the Device Manager, right-click on the ‘Ethernet’ network adapter, and select ‘Update driver’ from the context menu.

In the ‘Update Drivers’ window, you will now find two options, either to let Windows automatically search for the best available drivers on the system or locate and install them manually. It’s recommended that you select the first option and let Windows take care of the installation.

Windows will now install the update, in case one exists on the system.

If you encounter this Window, don’t lose hope! It only means that a driver update does not exist on the computer. You can still install it with the other two methods mentioned next in the article.

Let’s see how you install the driver update with Windows Update.

To install the driver update via Windows Update, launch ‘Settings’ and click on the ‘Windows Update’ tab on the left.

You will now find several options including the one to check for Windows Updates. But, since we are focused on checking for driver updates, click on ‘Advanced options’.

Next, select ‘Options updates’ under ‘Additional options’.

Note: You will find if there are any options updates available next to the options. If none are available, you can skip the method and move to the next one.

Now, click on the ‘Driver’ updates option to view the ones that are available for download and installation.

Check if any of these updates are for the ethernet adapter. If there’s one, tick the checkbox for it and click on ‘Download & install’ at the bottom.

If you couldn’t find a driver update in the Windows Update section, you can still check the manufacturer’s website for one. Many manufacturers don’t submit the driver update with Microsoft, rather upload it to their official website. If that’s the case, you will have to manually download and install it from the manufacturer’s official website.

Let’s see how you can download and install a driver update from the manufacturer’s official website.

This is probably the longest of the three methods and should be your last resort. Also, there is some risk involved since you are manually installing the driver, hence you have to be extra cautious.

To identify if there is a newer version of the driver available, you will first have to find out the current driver version. To do that, right-click on the ‘Ethernet’ adapter, and select ‘Properties’ from the context menu.

In the Ethernet Adapter properties, navigate to the ‘Driver’ tab and note the driver version.

Now, open any search engine of your choice, and use ‘Ethernet Adapter Manufacturer’s Name’, ‘OS’ followed by ‘Driver’ as the keywords for the search. Now, click on the search result that redirects you to the manufacturer’s website.

Now check if there’s a newer version available and download it. After downloading the driver update, navigate to the folder where it’s saved and double-click on the downloaded file. The file will most likely be in ‘.exe’ format and double-clicking on it will launch the installer. All you have to do is follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation process.

After the update is installed, restart the computer for the changes to apply and check if you are now able to connect to the internet.

7. Reset Ethernet Network Adapter

This fix doesn’t specifically deal with issues pertaining to the driver but several others as well. If the above fixes have not worked, you can try resetting the ‘Ethernet Network Adapter’ and it should fix the issue. When you reset the network adapter, it will reinstall it and configure all the settings to their original state.

To reset the network adapter, launch the ‘Settings’ app, and select the ‘Network & internet’ tab from the left.

Next, select ‘Advanced network settings’ on the right.

All the available network adapters will be listed here. Now, locate and click on the ‘Network reset’ option under ‘more settings’.

Next, click on ‘Reset now’ next to ‘Network reset’.

Click on ‘Yes’ in the confirmation box that pops up to start the network reset. The process may take a few minutes and the PC will be restarted to apply the changes.

The ethernet issue should now be resolved.

The above fixes will resolve any issue with the ethernet network adapter driver and the issue should be fixed by the time you are reading this.