Can’t connect to this network – Fix WiFi connection issues easily

If you are trying to access your email or stream your favorite show over WiFi, but running into the “Can’t connect to this network” error message on Windows, you may need to do some troubleshooting. Fixing WiFi connection issues is usually fairly straightforward. Windows 10 has lots of added features to help users troubleshoot any network issues.

Can't connect to this network error on Windows 10

Most of us are linked to the internet constantly, either through our mobile devices, computers, tablets, smartwatches, and smart home devices. We have come to expect the constant connection to the vast information and entertainment of the internet. This connection is provided by wireless internet, or WiFi, for the majority of our daily devices. When you start experiencing issues with your WiFi network, this can cause a major hiccup in your daily life.

WiFi works by sending signals between devices, using the Gigahertz range of radio frequencies. WiFi radio frequencies are set at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. When inside your own home, your wireless router is responsible for converting data from the internet into radio signals for your various wireless devices to connect to. All of your wireless devices will have a network interface card that allows the devices to connect to wireless sources of internet.

What causes the ‘Can’t connect to this network’ error?

If you are experiencing the “Can’t connect to this network” WiFi connection issue, the source of the problem is usually either your computer or your router/network. If you have tried to troubleshoot the problem, using the solutions in this article, but are still unable to connect, your ISP (Internet service provider) may be experiencing an outage.

If widespread, your ISP may have information on an outage on their website or social media accounts. Otherwise you may need to call your ISP to see if they can see the problem from their side and send a technician out. You will hopefully get an estimation on when service will be restored.

Your computer may the source of the ‘Can’t connect to this network’ error if:

  • Airplane Mode has been turned on
  • Network you are attempting to connect to has been forgotten
  • You can connect to the Wifi on other devices
  • Internet protocol version not set right
  • WiFi network adapter is bad or not compatible
  • Power options are changing your network settings

Your router may be the source of the issue if:

  • None of the usual devices can connect
  • Router hasn’t been reset recently
  • Poor router signal
  • Router is too far away

How to fix the ‘Can’t connect to this network’ WiFi connection error

Luckily fixing WiFi connection issues is usually easy and painless. Follow each 7 solutions outlined below to solve the most common culprits for the error ‘Can’t connect to this network’.

1. Forget Network And Reconnect

You can quickly forget your existing network, which will wipe your saved password settings. If your system is getting hung up when validating the WiFi credentials, this can reset and fix the problem. Make sure you remember what the password is because you’ll need to enter it to reconnect.

  1. Click the WiFi icon on the bottom-right corner of the action bar. If you’re not connected to the internet, it will be an Earth shape, instead of the usual Wifi bars.
  2. Right-click on the network you want to forget and select Forget.
Forget Network Connection
  1. If the network is not listed, select Network & Internet settings.
  2. In the new window, select Wifi from the sidebar.
Wi-Fi Settings
  1. Click Manage known networks and then select the network you want to forget from the list.
  2. Select the Forget button.
  3. To reconnect, click the name of the network and enter your network security key when prompted, then click Next.

2. Check Airplane Mode Isn’t On, or Toggle Airplane Mode

If your computer isn’t connecting to your local WiFi network, you need to check that Airplane mode didn’t accidentally get turned on. This is super easy to do on Windows 10, because the Airplane mode button is right next to the WiFi button.

Airplane mode has long been used to quickly stop your devices from transmitting wireless radio signals when flying on commercial aircraft to prevent any signals interfering with navigation equipment. Now that aircraft are providing in-flight WiFi this feature may not be as important anymore. Yet the feature still remains a reliable and quick way to drop your WiFi connection quickly and extend your battery life, in a pinch.

Even if Airplane mode isn’t on, you can toggle the feature on and off. This can serve as a reset for your WiFi and help fix connection issues. Be sure to give it a try!

  1. Check if there is an Airplane symbol in the bottom-right corner of your action bar.
  2. If there is, click the symbol and select Network & Internet settings.
  3. Select Airplane mode from the sidebar.
  4. Toggle off Airplane mode and WiFi will automatically be toggled on.
Airplane mode toggle

3. Plug in Ethernet Cord

Plugging in an Ethernet cable can help you better isolate the source of the problem. If you have internet access with an Ethernet connection, this means that your computer is the problem. It could be your WiFi network adapter or network settings, but this gives you a better idea of where to look next. But if the internet connection is not restored by the Ethernet connection, you need to look to your router or ISP as the source.

4. Restart Router

Your router should be regularly rebooted. Routers will start to run into problems when they are online 24/7. Restarting your router, also called power-cycling, is known to fix a lot of issues because it resets the router’s cache. Upon restart the router will also re-select the channel that is least crowded, to provide you the best connection. If your router is older than 4 years, be sure to speak to your ISP about having it replaced. You can also opt to upgrade and replace your router yourself, which can deliver some great results.

  1. Unplug the power cable, which is usually a black cable with a circular plug.
Router power port
  1. Wait at least 15 seconds, but waiting 5-10 minutes is preferred.
  2. Plug the router back in and in a few minutes the connection will be reestablished and you can check if this has solved your connection problem.

4. Release IP and Flush DNS Cache

Releasing your IP and flushing your DNS cache are commonly recommended solutions to network connection problems. This is because it’s so effective! If your computer is experiencing a minor glitch or error between your IP address and router, releasing your IP can solve this problem. Your DNS cache is essentially just a list of all of the IP addresses for each DNS (domain name server) you have accessed. The list can become outdated and flushing it regularly is helpful.

  1. Click the Start Menu and search for “Command Prompt“.
  2. Right-click on the Command Prompt app in the list, and select Run as administrator. This will bypass any permission problems. In the pop-up window, select Yes to allow the Command Prompt app to make changes to your device.
Command Prompt
  1. In the Command Prompt window, after C:\WINDOWS\system32> type the following commands, pressing Enter after each command:
    • netsh int ip reset
    • netsh winsock reset
    • ipconfig /release
    • ipconfig /renew
    • ipconfig /flushdns
netsh int ip reset

5. Update Network Adapter Drivers

Your network adapters may have outdated drivers, and drivers are one of the most important backbones of a smoothly running machine. If your network adapter is outdated, or even incompatible, you are going to experience connection issues. Drivers are software that help your hardware communicate with your operating system. Most computers will have a USB Wifi network adapter or a wireless network card. To update your network adapter drivers:

  1. Right-click the Start Menu button and select Device Manager.
Start Menu / Device Manager
  1. Look for the Network adapters section and expand it to view all associated adapters.
  2. Right-click on each network adapter and select Update driver.
Device Manager
  1. Choose the option Search automatically for drivers, and Windows will search the system for the latest driver updates.
  2. If the latest driver is not on your system and you can’t access the internet for the computer to search for a more recent driver, you may need to use a secondary computer to search for the latest driver. Save it to a thumb drive and then transfer it to the computer with the connection issue.
  3. Restart the computer to see if you are still unable to connect to WiFi or the problem has been resolved.

6. Adjust Channel Mode

There are two types of wireless bands, as discussed earlier, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Within these bands there are different wireless modes available for use, with different data rates and channel widths. Without getting too complicated, 2.4 GHz experiences more congestion but is better to use if you are farther from your router. The 2.4 GHz band can reach up to 100 feet. If you want better speeds and are closer to your router, between 25-35 feet, you may prefer 5 GHz. By experimenting with the different channel modes, you may find a solution to your connection problem:

  1. Click the Start Menu and search for “Control Panel”.
Control Panel
  1. Open the Control Panel and select Network and Internet.
Network and Internet
  1. Now select Network and Sharing Center.
  2. On the left-hand side select Change adapter settings.
  3. Find your Wi-Fi adapter and right-click. Select Properties from the list.
Network Connections
  1. Click the Configure… button and in the new window select the Advanced tab.
  2. Find the Channel Mode property and check that you have 2.4G + 5G selected from the dropdown menu.
  3. If you have different Channel mode options, such as 802.11g, 802.11b, or 802.11b/g, 802.11a, and more. experiment with the options to determine which one gives the best results.
TP-LINK Wireless USB Adapter Properties
  1. Click OK and check to see if the problem is resolved.

7. Check if IPv4 and IPv6 protocols are enabled

All computers connected to the internet are assigned an IP address. The original IP address scheme called IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) was first deployed in 1982. With the explosion of the internet and the number of connected devices, IPv4 started running out of IP addresses. The IPv6 is intended to be the successor to IPv4 because it uses 128-bit IP addresses instead of 32-bit. There are a lot of other great features that make IPv6 an improvement. If IPv4 or IPv6 protocols have become disabled, you won’t be able to properly access the internet:

  1. Click the Start Menu and search for “Control Panel”.
Control Panel
  1. Open the Control Panel and select Network and Internet.
Network and Internet
  1. Now select Network and Sharing Center.
  2. On the left-hand side select Change adapter settings.
  3. Find your Wi-Fi adapter and right-click it. Select Properties from the list.
  4. Scroll down and check that both IPv4 and IPv6 protocols are enabled.
Wi-Fi Properties
  1. Click OK and see if you can connect to the WiFi.
  2. If this doesn’t solve the problem, try to enable all of the properties listed in the Properties window.

8. Check security type matches between adapter and router

Your Wifi security is important to protect your personal information and internet activity. It also protects your Wifi from being used by neighbors, which may hog your bandwidth. If your router and WiFi adapter aren’t using the same security type, you will run into major issues.

There are two main types of protocols for security that are most likely used by your router. These are WPA-PSK and WPA2-PSK. While they sound similar and are similar, they can’t be different on your devices. To avoid confusing specifics, you just need to understand that the security protocol is responsible for authenticating each of your connected devices using an encryption method.

You may need to reference your router’s instruction manual to learn the security type and how to change it. You can also try to enter 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1 into your browser’s address bar and this will usually let you connect to the router. From there you can attempt to see the authentication type.

To adjust the security type on Windows 10:

  1. Click the Start Menu and search for the Control Panel.
  2. Open the Control Panel and select Network and Internet.
  3. Now select Network and Sharing Center.
  4. On the right-side, click on your wireless connection and a new window will open.
Network and Sharing Center
  1. Click Wireless Properties.
Wi-Fi Status
  1. Now look and see what Security type and Encryption type are being used by your machine. You can change this as needed, just make sure it matches your router’s settings.
ATTR6GnplS Wireless Network Properties
  1. Click OK and check to see if you can connect to the internet.

WiFi Connection Quickly Restored

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve tried 7 easy solutions to restoring your WiFi connection. At this point the ‘Can’t connect to this network’ error should be resolved! Many of the fixes are extremely simple because oftentimes the problem was an accidental misclick or the need to reset your connection or router. If you are still experiencing problems, consider getting your ISP involved and replacing your network adapter. USB network adapters are very budget friendly and your ISP has special tools to help diagnose the problem. Be sure to let us know which method worked in the comment section below.

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