Picture of an HP laptop computer, right side view, showing the glowing lamp, indicating an active Ethernet adapter port.

How to Fix Ethernet Port Not Working on Laptop

Just got an HP laptop into the shop, and according to the customer, it’s Ethernet port is not working.  She’s unable to browse the web, and says that the network port has a light beside it that’s glowing solid amber. In this piece, we detail the steps we took to fix her Ethernet port not working problem. Fortunately for us, this was not a hardware failure.





How to Fix Ethernet Port Not Working on Laptop Troubleshooting

Look at Network Card Lights

There’s also a blue-gray lamp just beneath the amber one, that glows when the Ethernet adapter is indeed active.  But the customer could not mount file systems on other local machines, run internet speed tests, et al.  No Ethernet connection, in short.

Check Ethernet Status on Windows Desktop Screen

Once we set up her laptop at the shop, we found it in sleep mode; not completely shut down.  So, we opened the lid (the screen), the hard drive spun up, and the Windows logon screen appeared.  We then entered her password.

Then we saw that the Ethernet icon in the notification area showed a yellow exclamation point beside it. This often means that there’s no Ethernet cable plugged in. Or it could be that the driver for the on-board network adapter did not load correctly.  Indeed, a driver problem was what the customer thought it was. She said that she had tried reinstalling the driver a couple times without success.  Indeed, NIC drivers not loading is one cause for the Ethernet port not working problem.

Then, when we double clicked on this yellow exclamation point, the system displayed the network connectivity screen. This showed that there was network action.  It displayed the attached network speed as 100 Mbps. But the attached network had no internet access.  Well, we knew that that was incorrect, as our LAN here at the shop indeed DOES have internet access.  We tested that with a little successful internet surfing on our office desktop PC.





Check the Ethernet Port on your Router to Continue with How to Fix Ethernet Port Not Working on Laptop

To further verify the Ethernet port not working problem on her HP laptop, we checked that the port on the home router here that we had plugged the laptop into, was glowing and blinking. This meant a correctly working status.  And, on the laptop itself, we saw the amber and gray lamps near the Ethernet port that the customer had seen.  But that light was not glowing solid. Rather, it was blinking and pulsing occasionally.  So the hardware on the laptop seemed to be working.  Yet that no-internet-access message kept showing on the laptop screen.

Picture of an HP laptop computer, right side view, showing the glowing lamp, indicating an active Ethernet adapter port.
HP Laptop Side View, showing the glowing lamp, indicating an active Ethernet adapter port.

The picture above shows the right side of this HP laptop, and the blue-gray light glowing.  But at the instant this picture was taken, no data was flowing. So no glowing amber lamp.

Try Rebooting the Laptop

As with any computer problem, we always first cold start the system. Booting from OFF state puts fresh copies of all operating system software and data structures into memory. Plus, it re initializes the hardware.  So cold booting the laptop was what we did.

Note though that to fully shut down the system before booting again, remove the battery once you power off the laptop.

Cold Booting Solved Our Ethernet Port Not Working Issue

After booting, the traffic on the laptop network adapter increased; again adding to our hunch that the network card itself was not broken.  The little amber light blinked profusely as we waited for the Windows logon screen to come up.

After roughly thirty seconds and much hard drive activity, the logon screen came back.  So, we logged in. Then we noticed the network icon in the notification area no longer sported the yellow exclamation point. A check of the network status by clicking this icon showed, again, a properly working Ethernet port.  Now, the connected network showed that there was indeed internet access, which we did not have before.  In fact, browsing the internet worked as well.  We could then run a few Google searches, and click into links on the search results pages.  Apparently, whatever problems the unit had prior to the cold reboot, went away after the reboot.





To Keep the Port Working, Apply All Pending Windows Updates

So, another task we always run on customer computers before giving them back, is to apply any pending Windows updates.  Doing this would also exercise the network adapter heavily, and if it worked, would prove that all Ethernet / internet functions were working as they should.  To that end, we asked Cortana for Windows Update, and ran that program from the list of apps and links she provided.  Once there, we ran a check for updates, and after a couple minutes the Windows Update found one update, which showed that Windows Update was able to talk to Microsoft via the Ethernet port, which had not worked before the cold boot.

Picture of an HP laptop PC, downloading Windows updates after reboot, showing that the Ethernet connection not working problem had been resolved by rebooting.
HP laptop PC, downloading Windows updates after reboot, showing that the Ethernet connection not working problem had been resolved by rebooting.

We hoped that if there was any driver issue on the PC, that Windows Update might fix it.  But as it turned out, whatever Ethernet connection outage there was, was fixed by rebooting that laptop.

After the restart, we saw neither error messages, nor yellow exclamation points.  Internet browsing continued working correctly.  We also successfully downloaded and applied the HP-specific updates, and allowed the PC to run for an hour or two more before giving it back to the customer.  All worked well in that time.

The Moral

Always cold reboot a computer FIRST, before delving into extensive troubleshooting.  Good luck.  Hopefully you will fix all of your future network issues this simply.  🙂





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References for How to Fix Ethernet Port Not Working on Laptop

  1. Ethernet Not Working on Windows 10 & 7
  2. Fix: Ethernet Not Working Issue on Windows 10 Creators Update, from Driver Talent
  3. When Your Ethernet Won’t Connect, from PC World

Revision History

  • 2019-07-17: Added key phrase targeting for ‘Fix Ethernet Port Not Working’, removed ad code, and added more links and tags.
  • 2018-02-21: Updated title and tags.
  • 2016-12-10: Originally published.
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