How to solve the ‘Unidentified network’ error in Windows

If you get the error message `Unidentified network´ in Windows, it usually means that you have no internet access. This can be for trivial reasons such as loose cables or an incorrectly assigned IP address, but it can also be due to a problem with the router or the DHCP server. Possible solutions range from reassigning an IP address to restarting the network adapters.

The error message `Unidentified network´ always appears when there is no internet access or connection to the network. The error can be detected when you are unable to connect to the internet and this message appears on the network icon in the taskbar. You can also find the error message in the `Network and Sharing Centre´ in the Windows Control Panel. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to give a general reason for this error as it varies from case to case. For example, Windows may have assigned an incorrect IP address to your computer. A not found DHCP server, a problem with network adapters or the fact that the DNS server is not responding can also be responsible.

Solutions to the `Unidentified network´ message

If you have no internet access, it doesn’t necessarily indicate a major problem. To rule out overlooking the simplest solution, try the following two methods first:

  • Restart your computer or router: Restarting is sometimes the quickest solution because it may only be a temporary issue. If the problem doesn’t resolve itself, turn off your router for at least 20 seconds by unplugging it. As soon as you reconnect it to the mains, it will restart itself.
  • Check cables or reconnect LAN cable: Check that the router and all cables are plugged in correctly. If you connect by cable via LAN, you can try to reconnect the cables at the mainboard. The latter should have two LAN ports (RJ-45).

If this doesn’t fix the connection problems, try the following solutions:

Solution 1: Windows troubleshooter

Windows has an automatic troubleshooter that you can use to solve any problems that occur.

Step 1: Type ‘troubleshooter’ into the Windows search line and open the app.

Step 2: Go to ‘Additional troubleshooting’.

Step 3: You will now find a list of services that Windows can check and repair. For network and connection problems, select the ‘Incoming connections’ and / or ‘Network adapters’ items. Ideally, Windows will solve the problem this way.

Solution 2: Advanced network settings

If troubleshooting doesn’t solve the problem, access the ‘Advanced network settings’.

Step 1: Type ‘network status’ into the Windows search line and click the result.

Step 2: You’ll see the ‘Network troubleshooting’ item under the ‘Advanced network settings’ section. Click it to detect and repair problems with the network.

Step 3: If this doesn’t work, you can click the ‘Reset network’ command on the same page. This will delete all networks, fixed IP addresses, VPN software, passwords, synchronised background data and connected device data. Your network settings will thus be reset to factory defaults.

Solution 3: Update network drivers

Outdated network drivers can be another reason for the ‘Unidentified network’ Windows error. So, update the drivers:

Step 1: Call up the ‘Device manager’ via the Windows search line.

Step 2: Expand the ‘Network adapters’ item in the device list and update your existing network modules or adapters by right-clicking on them and going to ‘Update drivers’.

Step 3: After that, restart your computer.

Solution 4: Renew IP address in case of DHCP error

Usually, your router automatically assigns an IP address to your computer via DHCP server. In addition, it transmits important data for the communication between your computer and the internet to the default gateway (this means the router itself) via DHCP and the DNS record to convert controlled URLs into IP addresses. Usually, Windows receives this data from the router. If, for some reason, your system does not receive the IP from the router, Windows assigns its own IP from the Windows range 169.254.x.x according to APIPA (Automatic Private IP Addressing). This can lead to the `No internet access´ error.

To renew your IP, proceed as follows:

Step 1: To check that your system has received an IP from the Windows router according to APIPA, use [Ctrl] + [R] and [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Enter] to open the command prompt as an administrator.

Step 2: Enter the CMD command `ipconfig´. If you see an IP starting with 169 for `IPv4 address´, Windows has already assigned an IP. If the connection works without problems, you should see an IP entry starting with 192.168.1.x.

Step 3: To release the IP and get a new one from the router, enter the command `ipconfig /release´ and press [Enter].

Step 4: Now enter the command `ipconfig /renew´ and confirm again with [Enter].

Step 5: If the error persists, try the following netsh commands in turn: `netsh winsock reset´ and `netsh int ipv4 reset´. The first command resets the network adapters to factory settings, while the second command resets your internet protocol TCP / IP.

Solution 5: Check network settings on the router

Although this is rarely the reason, you can check if DHCP is enabled on the router.

Step 1: Access your router user interface in the browser via the router address or the router IP.

Step 2: Go to ‘Home network’ > ‘Home network overview’ > ‘Network settings’ (depending on the router, the menu names may differ).

Step 3: Go to ‘IP addresses’ and then ‘IPv4 addresses’.

Step 4: If there’s no check mark in front of ‘Enable DHCP server’, set it to obtain your computer’s IP automatically via DHCP.

Solution 6: Check internet protocol properties

Check whether your network adapter is also automatically supplied with an IP address and DNS addresses via DHCP.

Step 1: Open the ‘Network status’ menu via the Windows search bar.

Step 2: Go to ‘Change adapter options’.

Step 3: Right-click on the network connection and go to ‘Properties’.

Step 4: From the list, select ‘Internet protocol, Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)’ and ‘Properties’.

Step 5: Check if the ‘Obtain IP address automatically’ and ‘Obtain DNS server address automatically’ items are enabled. If not, enable them and restart your computer.