For administrators managing Windows desktops, the occasional network outage is inevitable.
With a deliberate and systematic approach, troubleshooting network issues on the Windows 11 desktop should be easy. Step-by-step troubleshooting will often fix any Windows 11 network problem outright or at least point you in the right direction.
As a Windows administrator, you should learn this troubleshooting process and apply it to any network problems you encounter.
Step 1. Use the Windows 11 Network Troubleshooter.
There are many specific local troubleshooters that can help with target problems. In this case you may want to use the Network Troubleshooter. To find this utility, go to: Get started. > Setting > System > Troubleshooting > Other troubleshooting > Network Troubleshooter. This step can resolve many common problems by itself, with no action required.
Click on Run button to the right of Internet connections To run this troubleshooter. After completing a brief set of built-in diagnostics, a dialog will appear with two choices (Figure 1).
For network-specific issues, select the first option: Fix my internet connection problem..
Internet access troubleshooting
Because accessing the Internet means accessing some kind of local network — either Wi-Fi or some kind of wired Ethernet — the troubleshooter runs Windows Network Diagnostics first. Next, the troubleshooter runs a set of Internet connectivity tests. This section of the troubleshooter is called Internet Connections. Both items will display their results if you click. Publisher details In the troubleshooting report that this tool generates (Figure 2).
As you can see from the description of Internet Connections, this tool usually checks Internet connectivity. It also performs website related checks.
When Windows checks network and Internet connectivity, it detects and reports a wide range of potential problems. These include the following issues, each with a different solution:
- Interface status. If a network interface is unavailable or not working properly, you cannot access the network. Windows will tell you if it can’t access the local network. If this happens, you need to troubleshoot the interface yourself, as shown in step 2 of this article.
- Solving network problems. If your network software cannot interact with the network, this may indicate a problem with network addressing. This can block access to the local network as well as access to the Internet. Although the troubleshooter can handle many addressing-related issues, you may need to address your TCP/IP configuration if addressing issues persist. This is covered in step 3 of the article.
- Internet access problems. Even if the local network is accessible, Internet access may not be available. Try reconfiguring the network gateway — a device that forwards outbound local traffic over the Internet connection and inbound Internet traffic over the local network. You may need to contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) several times to determine if the problem is with your Internet connection. The steps in this process are covered in Step 4 of this article.
If the troubleshooter doesn’t fix your Windows 11 networking issues, depending on what the initial report tells you, continue following the steps in this article.
Step 2. What to do if the network interface is not working
The first thing to do when a network interface is down is to identify the network interface used on the affected PC. If you run ipconfig As a command prompt, it will tell you whether you are using a wired or wireless network connection. In this example, the Windows 11 PC is on wired Ethernet, as it provides connection and address information under the heading. Ethernet adapter Ethernet 5 (Figure 3).
If you unplug the wired connection to this PC’s connected dock, it switches to Wi-Fi. In this case, the given interface name Wireless LAN Adapter Wi-Fi appears with a different IP address. It tells you what to look for in Device Manager if one or another adapter disappears or stops working. In this example, both networks are present, even if only one or the other is in use (Figure 4).
If an interface appears but is not available, the most likely cause is a damaged or disabled device driver. The first thing to try is to disable and then re-enable the device. To do this right click on the target device and select Disable the device. In the pop-up menu. In this case, it is either an Ethernet controller for wired connection or Wi-Fi for wireless. Wait about 30 seconds, then right-click again and select Activate the device. From the same pop-up menu. This may be enough to solve some problems.
If that doesn’t work, replace the current device driver. The easiest way to do this is to uninstall the current problem driver, then let Windows find and reinstall the driver it thinks should be in place. To do this, right-click the problem driver in Device Manager, then select Uninstall the device.. A quick restart should then let Windows install the appropriate drivers on reboot.
If that doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need to find an alternative driver elsewhere online. The best sources are the Microsoft Update Catalog, or the preferred device OEM’s website.
Alternatively, you can try an alternative USB device instead. You can buy a plug-in USB 3 GbE Ethernet adapter or equivalent Wi-Fi adapter for about US$30 these days. As an administrator it’s a good idea to have at least one of each in your toolkit for quick solutions to persistent network problems. If the plug-in device works but you cannot use the built-in device, you must replace or replace the disabled network adapter.
Step 3. Troubleshooting problems with network addressing
Most problems with network addressing occur when some kind of Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) problem occurs. If the Windows troubleshooter can’t fix them, you may need to check the router or gateway device, which provides the appropriate address information on the interface. The biggest clue is if such a problem exists ipconfig Displays a network address that starts with the number 169.254.0.x to 169.254.255.254. This is called an automatic private address. This tells you that Windows isn’t getting an IP address from an external source and optimizes to assign one automatically on your behalf. The first thing to try on the command line is to reset your IP address.
Without proper addresses for the affected PC, DHCP and DNS servers, local network and Internet access become impossible. If resetting the IP address doesn’t work, you can try resetting the network adapter.
If that doesn’t work either, you may want to check the router and gateway to make sure your computer is able to access and retrieve the correct information. Check the documentation for your router — readily available on the vendor or ISP sites, depending on whether it’s your router or the provider’s — for the rest of these details.
Step 4. Fix problems with the network itself
Sometimes, your PC may work fine. The best way to verify this is if the Windows 11 desktop is able to access the local network, but is unable to access the Internet. If so, you can see the Omnis globe icon at the bottom right of the screen in the taskbar notification area. It will appear in place of the normal Wi-Fi or wired network symbols.
When this happens, the first thing to try is to simply reboot the PC. If it doesn’t bring back the internet connection, then the problems are not in the PC. The next thing is to reset your router — or whatever device connects your local network to the Internet. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to call your ISP to see if they have a problem or an outage event. Their tech support team can help you troubleshoot your connection if everything is on their end, or you’ll find that they expect to get things back to rights.