Without a functioning wireless adapter, your computer would be unable to receive or transmit wireless signals, preventing it from connecting to Wi-Fi networks. Wireless adapters are often at fault in single-computer connectivity issues, where only one of the devices on a wireless network is experiencing connection problems. The following process is a recommended troubleshooting method for adapter issues, helping you to identify the cause of any problems systematically.
The first thing you should do in the event of an adapter issue is to check whether the adapter can detect any wireless networks at all. To do this, open the Windows “Settings” menu and click on the wireless signal icon. Alternatively, click on the the your adapter’s system tray icon to open its wireless utility. If no networks are listed, your adapter may be experiencing a hardware fault. If you can see wireless networks but still can’t connect, the device might have a configuration issue.
Your next step should be to check the lights on the adapter itself. Ensure that the adapter’s power LED is on, and that it is not flickering or phasing in and out. If the adapter seems to be powered off, disconnect and reconnect it to your computer’s USB port. If the light remains off, you should check the device’s listing in Device Manager, which you can access from the Control Panel. If the adapter’s listing displays an error message, right-click it and select “Disable,” then re-enable the device.
If you can see the name of the network that you want to connect to in your networks list, but still can’t connect, there may be a mismatch between the security details the network is using and the details saved in your operating system. You can often resolve this by right-clicking on the network’s name and selecting “Forget This Network.” Re-connect to the network and ensure that you enter the correct security details when prompted.
If you still cannot connect to your network, move your computer to between five and ten feet away from your router before attempting a re-connection. This will help you to rule out wireless interference caused by other electronic items or construction materials disrupting your wireless signal. If possible, you should also see if you can connect to the Internet using an Ethernet connection, as this will rule out problems with your computer itself rather than your adapter.
If you have followed the steps detailed above and still cannot maintain a wireless connection, your adapter may be experiencing a serious failure. In this instance, you should contact the adapter’s manufacturer for more information.