How to Fix Network Cable Unplugged Errors in Windows

Resolving Ethernet Network Cable Unplugged Errors

Bright yellow cable
Maria Toutoudaki/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Was this page helpful?

When your computer network is not functioning properly, you may see "A Network Cable Is Unplugged" error messages appear repeatedly on the Windows desktop.

This message might be seen once every few days or even once every few minutes depending on the nature of the problem, and can even occur if you're on Wi-Fi!

What Causes "Network Cable Unplugged" Errors?

These errors have several potential causes. Generally, the error message appears on a computer when an installed Ethernet network adapter is attempting, unsuccessfully, to make a local network connection.

Reasons for failure might include malfunctioning network adapters, bad Ethernet cables, or misbehaving network device drivers.

Some users who upgraded from older versions of Windows to Windows 10 have also reported this issue.

How Can "Network Cable Unplugged" Issues Be Resolved?

Try the following procedures to stop these error messages from appearing:

  • Power cycle and reboot the computer. While rebooting is a common practice on Windows devices, simply restarting the operating system may not be enough. Turn the power off and then restart the device to ensure any temporary memory corruption issues are cleared.

    If you're on a laptop, take the extra step of removing the battery and walking away for 10 minutes. Just unplug the laptop from power and remove the battery. When you get back, reattach the battery, plug the laptop back in, and start Windows again.
  • Disable the Ethernet network adapter if you are not using it. This applies, for example, when running a Wi-Fi home network with computers that have built-in Ethernet adapters. To disable the adapter, double-click the small Network Cable Unplugged error window and choose the Disable option.
  • Check both ends of the Ethernet cable connected to the adapter to ensure they are not loose. You may even go as far as replacing the network cable to verify that it isn't the cable that's the problem.
  • Update the network adapter driver software to a newer version if available. If already running the latest available version, consider uninstalling and reinstalling the driver.
  • Change the Ethernet adapter's Duplex settings (via Windows Device Manager or Network and Sharing Center) to use a "Half Duplex" or "Full Duplex" option instead of Auto Detect. This change can work around technical limitations of the adapter by changing the speed and timing at which it operates. Some users have reported having more success with the Half Duplex option, but note that this setting lowers the maximum total data rate that the device can support.
  • On some older computers, the Ethernet adapter is a removable USB dongle, PCMCIA or PCI Ethernet card. Remove and re-insert the adapter hardware to verify the hardware is connected properly. If that doesn't help, try replacing the adapter if possible.

If none of the above procedures help, it's possible that the device on other end of the Ethernet connection, such as a broadband modem or network router, may be malfunctioning. Troubleshoot these devices as needed.