On most routers, you’ll have a choice between a wired (Ethernet) and wireless (Wi-Fi) connection. Most laptops and smart devices nowadays have adapted to a wireless connection when accessing the internet—for instance, your smartphone works best when it’s connected to a Wi-Fi network.
However, in some Ethernet-compatible devices—like desktops, laptops, and consoles—a wired connection is more ideal compared to Wi-Fi. Ethernet connections are in general faster and more stable since data is being transmitted in a streamlined process. But some users have reported that only a Wi-Fi connection works for their router but not Ethernet.
Note that this is a separate problem to when your Ethernet is Slower Than WiFi. This guide will go over common reasons why an Ethernet cable is not detected by your device and how to fix it. Read on to learn more.
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“Why is My Ethernet Not Working?” — Most Common Reasons
Although an Ethernet connection is a proven way to connect to the internet, it can sometimes fail due to some issues with hardware and your devices, such as your router and computer. Here are the most common reasons why an Ethernet connection is not working.
- Damaged Ethernet Cable – Over time, your Ethernet cable can face wear and tear. It’s wise to check for tears and damage on the wire and both connectors since a damaged connector sometimes won’t be recognized by your computer or router.
- Faulty Ethernet Ports – To have an established connection between your router and computer, make sure that both Ethernet ports are free from dust and debris. If you’re just plugging in an Ethernet cable after a long time, chances are your Ethernet ports will be full of dust and need to be cleaned.
- Software Glitch – Both your router and computer can face glitches once in a while. Restarting them can solve the most common problems, including an unrecognized Ethernet connection.
- Outdated Ethernet Drivers – Your Ethernet cable may appear unrecognized when your computer’s Ethernet drivers are outdated. Depending on your device manufacturer, you’ll need to download the latest Ethernet driver updates to get your Ethernet connection working again.
How to Fix a Faulty Ethernet Connection
Before going straight to the solutions, first, try to check your Ethernet cable for damage to the wire and connectors. As mentioned earlier, your computer will have trouble recognizing a damaged Ethernet cable.
Also, don’t forget to clean the Ethernet ports for both your router and computer. Make sure you hear a clicking sound to indicate that the cable is securely connected to the port. If both the Ethernet cable and ports are in good condition and it still doesn’t work, here are some fixes that you can try.
Fix #1: Turn Off Wi-Fi on your Computer
By default, the Wi-Fi feature will automatically turn on after starting your computer. Also, once the Ethernet cable is plugged in, you won’t really see that you’re connected to an Ethernet connection since the Wi-Fi icon will always be displayed in the taskbar. Turning it off will avoid confusion and will put focus on your computer to the Ethernet connection only.
To turn off Wi-Fi on Windows, follow these steps:
- Click the Wi-Fi icon on the bottom-right of your screen. Once a new popup window shows up, click Open Network and Internet Settings.
- Go to the Wi-Fi tab and toggle it to Off.
- Check if the Ethernet connection is recognized by your computer.
Fix #2: Enable Ethernet Connections
If your computer still fails to discover an Ethernet connection, check if it is disabled in the Network and Internet Settings. If you’ve not been using an Ethernet connection for a long time, this setting might be disabled by default.
To enable Ethernet in your computer, do the following:
- Click the network adapter icon on the bottom-right of your screen and select Open Network and Internet Settings.
- Find the default Ethernet connection of your computer. Most likely, it will have the name Local Area Connection.
- Select and right-click the connection and choose Enable from the options.
- Restart your computer and connect your Ethernet cable to the port.
- See if your computer is connected to the internet via Ethernet.
Fix #3: Restart your Router
Glitches can sometimes occur on your router, especially when using another connection type. Restarting it will reset all existing connections and will solve most problems, including an Ethernet connection that’s not working.
To restart or power cycle your router, follow these steps:
- Turn off your router and remove its adapter from the power source.
- Wait for twenty seconds to drain all the remaining power inside the router.
- Plug the adapter back in and turn on your router.
- Check your computer if it recognizes the Ethernet connection.
Important: Another factor to look into is to check whether your ISP has some scheduled outages near your area. Your computer might appear connected via Ethernet but you cannot browse the internet totally. If this is the case, you’ll need to wait for a few minutes until the network is back up.
Fix #4: Try Other Ethernet Ports
If your computer has two or more Ethernet ports, you can try plugging the Ethernet cable into the other ports and see if this solves the problem. On older computers, some ports might be damaged or faulty, hence, you can check other Ethernet ports. You can also do the same with your router.
Fix #5: Update Ethernet Drivers on your Computer
More often than not, connectivity problems can be associated with outdated network drivers. In this case, you’ll need to update your Ethernet driver to solve all issues, including an unrecognized connection.
To update the Ethernet drivers in your computer, follow these steps:
- Click the Start Menu then go to Computer > Properties.
- Choose Device Manager. The Device Manager window will appear.
- Extend the Network Adapters option and find your Ethernet card. It should have no Wi-Fi or Wireless in its name.
- Once you found it, right-click and select Properties.
- Under the Driver tab, select Update Driver.
- Next, click Browse my computer for driver software. This will search for existing drivers in your device.
- Choose Let me pick a list of available drivers on my computer.
- Select the driver file that matches the manufacturer of the current Ethernet driver and click OK.
- Once the driver is installed, restart your computer and see if the Ethernet connection is now working properly.
Another trick to force update your Ethernet driver is by uninstalling and reinstalling it after reboot. To do it via the Device Manager, right-click the Ethernet driver and select Uninstall Driver. Next, restart your computer—the Ethernet driver will automatically be reinstalled with the latest updates saved on your computer. Once it turns on, check if the Ethernet connection works properly on your computer.
An Ethernet connection is a reliable connection type for heavy-bandwidth tasks like live streaming, screencasting, gaming, etc. You can also download movies, music, and other media content on the internet at a faster rate, compared to a wireless connection.
Hence, this guide will be able to help you when an Ethernet connection does not work on your computer. If these fixes didn’t solve this issue, you can try consulting tech support to assess your computer with damages to its adapters and other internal hardware.