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How to Fix a USB Wi

Mar 12, 2023Mar 12, 2023

Get your USB Wi-Fi adapter working again by checking its power source and changing some device settings

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This page covers a range of solutions for how to get a USB Wi-Fi adapter working when it fails to turn on or repeatedly shuts down and stops working. The fixes will help you get the Wi-Fi adapter powered on and connecting to a wireless internet connection in addition exploring several ways to inspect a USB device when it's plugged into your computer.

USB Wi-Fi adapters usually stop working due to the incorrect drivers being installed or the correct drivers being out of date, insufficient power made available, or some kind of software glitch. Damaged or dirty hardware can also stop USB Wi-Fi adapters from working properly.

Here's how to fix a USB Wi-Fi adapter when it stops working on a Windows or Mac computer.

Turn off Airplane mode. If enabled, Airplane mode will disable all wireless connectivity.

Turn on Wi-Fi. If the Wi-Fi setting is disabled, your USB Wi-Fi adapter won't be able to connect to the internet.

Check the Wi-Fi signal strength. Check the Wi-Fi icon on your desktop to see how many bars the internet connection has. If the USB adapter is connected to the internet but its signal strength is weak, you may be able to improve it by moving your computer closer to a window and away from walls and large objects.

Reconnect the USB Wi-Fi adapter. Carefully unplug the adapter, what several seconds, and then plug it back in again.

Check for dirt and damage. Unplug the USB Wi-Fi adapter and inspect for any dust on the inside of the USB connector. Also look for cracks or loose casing that could indicate the product is damaged.

Restart your computer. A quick system restart could fix your USB Wi-Fi adapter problems in addition to a number of other computer issues.

Update your computer. Download and install the latest operating system for your Windows or Mac computer. Not only can this help make your device more stable but the update process is also known to detect and fix system errors.

Try a different USB port. The current USB port may be damaged.

Try a different USB device. If another device, like a USB mouse, also doesn't work, the problem is with the USB port, not the USB Wi-Fi adapter.

Connect your computer to a power source. Some laptops have trouble powering multiple USB devices at the same time while running on battery power.

Use a powered USB hub. If you suspect that more power is needed to use the USB Wi-Fi adapter device, try connecting it to a USB hub or dock that features its own power. Microsoft's Surface Dock is one such device that can be used to connect a Surface to multiple monitors in addition to a variety of USB devices.

Remove the USB hub. If you’re already using a USB hub, unplug the USB Wi-Fi adapter and connect it directly to your computer. You USB hub may be blocking the connection.

Run Windows troubleshooters. Run the troubleshooters for Internet Connections, Incoming Connections, Network Adapter, and Power.

Scan for hardware changes. In Windows, open Device Manager and select Scan for hardware changes from the top menu. This may help your computer detect and activate your USB Wi-Fi adapter.

Enable the Wi-Fi adapter. You may need to manually turn on a number of settings in Windows for the USB Wi-Fi adapter to be detected.

Update device drivers. In Windows, update the device drivers for any USB adapters under Network adapters.

Uninstall and reinstall device drivers. If updating the device driver doesn't work, open Device Manager again, right-click your USB adapter's name, and select Uninstall device. Once done, restart your computer. The correct driver should automatically download and install after the restart process has finished.

Install a driver in compatibility mode. Open and install the driver from the manufacturer's website or included CD in Windows’ compatibility mode. This can be useful if an older device's drivers aren't able to be installed in a modern operating system.

Reset the WLAN AutoConfig settings. Press Windows + R, type services.msc, and select OK. Once the window pops up, double-click WLAN AutoConfig and select Automatic > Apply > OK.

Reset your Mac's System Management Controller. Resetting the System Management Controller, or SMC, on a Mac computer can fix a number of issues including those that affect USB devices and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Disable USB battery saver. On Windows, open Settings and select Bluetooth & devices > USB and make sure that the switch next to USB battery saver is turned off.

Reset network settings. Network settings essentially manage the majority of your device's networking features that allow it to connect to both the internet and other devices. You can reset your network settings on Mac and Windows computers.

Replace your USB Wi-Fi adapter. If none of the above fixes work, you may need to purchase a new USB Wi-Fi device. If your device is relatively new, you should be able to exchange it or get a full refund.

You may not need a USB Wi-Fi adapter. The majority of modern laptops and desktop computers feature built-in Wi-Fi functionality so you may not need a USB dongle to add wireless internet functionality at all. Try connecting to a Wi-Fi network using just your computer's native hardware.

If your computer doesn't support Wi-Fi, connect it to a smartphone and use USB Tethering. Connect both devices via USB and open your Android phone's Settings > Network and Internet > Hotspot & Tethering > turn on Tethering. On iPhone, open Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot > turn on Personal Hotspot.

To connect your Samsung TV (or other smart TVs) to Wi-Fi, open Settings > General > Network > Open Network Settings. Choose your Wi-Fi network and enter the password if prompted, then select Done > OK. Note that the steps and menu names may differ for other smart TV models.

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Scan for hardware changes Uninstall device Windows R services.msc OK WLAN AutoConfig Automatic Apply OK Bluetooth & devices USB USB battery saver Settings Network and Internet Hotspot & Tethering Tethering Settings Cellular Personal Hotspot Personal Hotspot Settings General Network Open Network Settings Done OK