If you’re using a Windows 11 laptop or desktop computer and find yourself in a situation where your Wi-Fi connection is working smoothly but your Ethernet simply refuses to work, it indicates a peculiar but not uncommon issue. Specifically, this problem is characterized by an Ethernet connection that either doesn’t recognize networks, fails to establish a connection, or loses connectivity irregularly, in stark contrast to a stable Wi-Fi connection on the same device. This article will explore why Ethernet might not work specifically in Windows 11 when Wi-Fi does, and what users can try to resolve this issue.
Why is Ethernet Not Working but WiFi is?
The core of the problem lies in the distinct ways Ethernet and Wi-Fi connect to your network and how Windows 11 interacts with these connections. Ethernet, being a wired connection, relies heavily on physical components like cables, ports, and network cards. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is wireless and depends more on software configurations and wireless signal quality.
When Ethernet fails but Wi-Fi doesn’t, it suggests an issue localized to the physical network infrastructure or related settings in Windows 11 that are specific to wired connections.
Linked issue: Windows 11 Ethernet “Unidentified Network” (How to Fix)
Starting With the Basics
Although you may have already encountered this advice, it’s important to start with the basics when troubleshooting. The issue often lies in overlooked simple fixes:
- Checking Physical Connections: Ensure your Ethernet cable is securely connected to both your computer and router. Sometimes, swapping the cable or trying a different port on the router can instantly resolve the issue.
- Restarting Devices: A classic but effective step. Power cycling your devices (modem/router and computer) can often clear up temporary glitches affecting the Ethernet connection.
Before going into more complex solutions, it’s essential to rule out these basic yet common culprits.
Learn more: Ethernet Not Working in Windows 11 (Fix)
Hardware and Software Diagnostics
After addressing the basics, if the issue persists, it’s time to look into more specific diagnostics, focusing on both hardware and software aspects.
- Alternate Ethernet Cable and Port: Even if your cable seems fine, try an alternative Ethernet cable or port. Sometimes, a faulty cable or port, not visible to the naked eye, could be the culprit.
- Router’s LAN Port: Check different LAN ports on your router. Some ports, especially in advanced routers, are reserved for specific purposes and might not support a standard Ethernet connection.
Software and System Diagnostics
Moving onto the software side, Windows 11 has its quirks that can affect Ethernet connections:
Dealing with Driver Issues
Both WiFi and Ethernet generally use generic drivers, but they can still be prone to issues, particularly after major Windows updates. It’s not uncommon for a Windows update to inadvertently disrupt driver compatibility.
This is why when an issue occurs, manually updating your driver is a common yet effective solution. “Manually” in this context means downloading the latest version directly from your device or motherboard manufacturer’s website and installing it on your computer.
System Configuration: Ethernet Settings
- IP Configuration: In “Network & Internet” settings, ensure your Ethernet is set to obtain an IP address automatically, unless you’re using a static IP. Misconfigured IP settings are a common issue.
- Open “Settings” on your Windows 11 computer.
- Navigate to “Network & Internet”.
- Click on “Ethernet” on the left pane.
- Under your Ethernet connection, click on “Edit” next to IP assignment.
- Ensure it’s set to “Automatic (DHCP)” unless you’re using a specific, static IP address. This setting allows your computer to automatically obtain an IP address and DNS server address from your network, which is essential for a functioning Ethernet connection.
- Network Profile Settings: Check if the network profile is set correctly (Public or Private) as it affects network discovery and sharing settings.
- Power Management: In Device Manager, under your Ethernet adapter’s properties, ensure that the system is not allowed to turn off the device to save power, as this can sometimes disrupt connectivity.
- Open “Device Manager”.
- Expand “Network adapters” and find your Ethernet adapter.
- Right-click on the Ethernet adapter and select “Properties”.
- Go to the “Power Management” tab.
- Ensure that the option “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” is unchecked. This prevents the system from disabling the Ethernet adapter during low power states, which could disrupt connectivity.
Related resource: Router to Modem/PC Auto-Negotiation at 100Mbps (not 1Gbps)
Insights from Reddit Users
Users in forums like Reddit have reported specific issues with Ethernet on Windows 11, which include:
- Intel I225 Ethernet Adapter Problems: For motherboards using this adapter, issues with Ethernet disconnections are common. Updating to the latest driver specifically for this adapter can be a potential solution.
- BIOS Settings Check: In some cases, settings in the BIOS related to LAN/WAN switching and power management for the Ethernet port have been the root cause. Check these settings in the BIOS/UEFI, particular settings that directly affect the functionalities of the Ethernet port on the motherboard (or PCIe if it’s an installed network card).
- Disabling IPv6: Some users found that disabling IPv6 in their network adapter properties resolved conflicts causing Ethernet issues.
- Installing Older Drivers: Oddly enough, some users reported that reverting to older versions of Ethernet drivers resolved their connectivity issues, suggesting compatibility problems with the latest drivers on Windows 11.
- LAN Port Selection on Router: Check if the specific LAN port on the router is functioning correctly. Some routers designate certain ports for specific types of traffic, which could interfere with normal Ethernet operation.
Executing Some Network Commands
Sometimes, resetting the network stack can resolve underlying issues:
- TCP/IP Stack Reset: Running commands like
netsh winsock resetand
netsh int ip resetin the Command Prompt (admin) can help. These commands reset core networking components in Windows.
- IP Configuration Refresh: Commands
ipconfig /releasefollowed by
ipconfig /renewcan aid in renewing the IP configuration, potentially resolving connectivity issues.
The Role of System Files
Corrupted system files can subtly affect network connectivity:
- System File Checker: Running
sfc /scannowin Command Prompt (admin) can detect and repair damaged system files.
- Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM): The
dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealthtool repairs the Windows image and can sometimes rectify issues that the SFC scan cannot.
Last Resort: Network Reset
If all else fails, you can try to perform a network reset as a last resort. This option resets all network components to their default settings. It’s a drastic measure but can resolve deeply ingrained network issues. However, it will remove all network configurations, so be prepared to set up your connections again.
Final Checks and Considerations
Despite following all the aforementioned steps, if your Ethernet connection still fails to work while WiFi does, it might be time to consider some final aspects and potentially seek professional help.
- Hardware Inspection: At this point, it’s advisable to inspect your computer’s hardware, especially the network card or the motherboard’s Ethernet port, for any signs of physical damage.
- Compatibility Issues: Sometimes, particularly with older hardware, compatibility issues with Windows 11 might be the root cause. Checking for compatibility updates or firmware updates for your network card or motherboard could provide a solution.
- Modem/Router Firmware: Just as with your PC’s hardware, ensuring that your modem/router’s firmware is up to date is crucial. Outdated firmware can lead to connectivity issues.
Warning: Updating the firmware of your motherboard, router, or modem comes with significant risks. An incorrect or interrupted firmware update can render the device unusable, a state often referred to as “bricking.” This happens when the firmware, which is essentially the device’s operating system, becomes corrupt.
Therefore, it’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely and ensure that the firmware version is compatible with your device. If you’re not confident in performing the update, it might be safer to seek assistance from a professional.
Trying to resolve mysteriously and often unexpectedly technical issues, such as when Ethernet does not work but WiFi does, can be frustrating. A key piece of advice: don’t overlook the power of driver updates (and sometimes firmware updates). They’re not just routine maintenance; they can be game-changers in resolving compatibility issues, particularly with newer operating systems like Windows 11. Also, remember that sometimes the problem might not be in your computer but in the router or modem you’re using. A quick check or call to your ISP to confirm everything is in order on their end can save you hours of troubleshooting.
Finally, keep a record of any changes you make during your troubleshooting process. This can be invaluable if you need to seek professional help later. They’ll have a clear history of what’s been tried, which can expedite finding a solution. And while it’s gratifying to solve issues on your own, don’t shy away from reaching out, especially in forums and communities such as Reddit, for help if needed. Sometimes, a fresh pair of eyes or a different expertise level can quickly pinpoint an issue that might take you much longer to figure out on your own.