How To Fix an Ethernet Cable That Keeps Disconnecting
There’s a good reason why you use an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. Beyond simply being faster, which is great for downloading, streaming, and gaming, Ethernet cables help you get around the obstacles that obstruct Wi-Fi signals, like walls and floors.
If your cable keeps disconnecting, it can be a frustrating experience though. Fortunately, you can use the fixes in this article to solve the problem and keep your Ethernet-based connection as strong as possible.
Fix 1 – Try a Different Ethernet Cable
The strength of the connection you get using Ethernet relies on the quality of the hardware you use. That starts with your Ethernet cable, which is basically a wire with connectors on either end that link your device to your modem. Any number of issues can affect that wire, from breaks in the plastic connectors leading to looseness when slotted into a port to cracks or breaks in the wire itself.
Before trying any other method to fix your disconnection issues, switch out the cable you’re using for a new one. If the connection restores, you know that you had a hardware issue. And even if the problem persists, you at least have a new Ethernet cable, which can serve as a spare or prove useful for connecting a different device to your modem.
Fix 2 – Check the Ethernet Port in Your Device
Hardware issues related to your device can also cause problems. Ethernet ports can become loose, especially if you disconnect and reconnect cables frequently or have a habit of yanking cables out of the ports. This problem is so common that many Ethernet ports come with built-in LED lights, which will shine white or yellow when the connection is secure and won’t come on at all if there’s a connection problem.
The obvious solution to this issue is to replace the Ethernet port. That’s easy enough for PCs, which you can open to gain access to the device’s internals, but is often more of an issue for laptops due to their self-contained nature.
If you can’t access the Ethernet port (or don’t want to void your warranty by opening up your device) you can use a USB-based Ethernet port. These clever solutions plug into any spare USB slot in your device, usually offering a plug-and-play port you can use to reconnect your Ethernet cable.
Fix 3 – Stop Your PC From Turning Off Your Network Adapter
If you have a Windows PC that’s configured to turn off network adapters to save power, you might find that the device itself is causing the disconnection problem.
Solve it by following these steps for Windows 10 PCs:
- Click the “Start” button and open “Device Manager” via the search bar.
- Navigate to your network adapter, right-click, and select “Properties.”
- Select the “Power Management” tab.
- Uncheck the box next to the text “Allow Computer to Turn Off This Device to Save Power.”
- Click “OK” and test the connection to see if it reactivates.
Fix 4 – Update Your Ethernet Adapters Drivers
Outdated drivers can cause problems with Ethernet connections because they’re no longer maintained, meaning they’re more likely to contain bugs than newer drivers. You can update your drivers manually using the following method:
- Type “Device Manager” into your Windows search bar and open the “Device Manager” app.
- Scroll down to “Network Adapters” and click the arrow on the left-hand side of the text.
- Right-click the adapter you wish to update and pick “Search Automatically for Updated Driver Software.”
- Click “Update Driver.”
Windows will search the web for new drivers (meaning you need to have an active internet connection to use this method) and run an update if it finds any. If it doesn’t find a driver, try looking for one on the website of the manufacturer that made your network adapter.
Fix 5 – Restart Your Modem or Router
An undetected problem with the internet connection your Internet Service Provider (ISP) serves to your modem will cause Ethernet disconnections. After all, you can’t connect to something that doesn’t exist.
If the problem lies with your router or modem, try the below:
- Disconnect the device from its power source and wait for a couple of minutes.
- This waiting period gives the device a chance to reset, plus it serves as a power cycle opportunity that releases stored electricity from your modem or router.
- Plug the modem back in, wait for it to reboot, and test your connection again.
If that doesn’t work, try contacting your ISP or using its service status checker service (most have them on their websites) to see if there’s a problem with internet connectivity in your area. You can do little more than wait for the problem to get fixed if one exists.
Fix 6 – Run Windows Network Troubleshooter
Windows has an automated troubleshooter that may help you figure out the cause behind your Ethernet cable continually disconnecting. It scans for any issues, fixes them automatically, and gives you a log to show you what caused the problem:
- Check that your Ethernet cable is securely plugged into your computer.
- Type “Settings” into your Windows search bar and click the “Update & Security” option.
- Select “Troubleshoot” from the menu on the left-hand side.
- Scroll down until you see the “Find and Fix Other Problems” section and select “Network Adapter.”
- Click “Run The Troubleshooter.”
- Select “Ethernet” from the resulting dialog box and click “Next.”
- Wait for the troubleshooter to run (this may take several minutes) and follow the advice it provides.
- Click “Close” to exit the troubleshooter.
The troubleshooter should automatically fix any problems that are within its capabilities to fix, such as updating drivers or correcting software-based issues. If it can’t fix the problem, you’ll receive a message that will likely tell you that your Ethernet cable is likely unplugged or broken.
Fix 7 – Try a Network Reset
“Turn it off and on again,” is the constant refrain of any IT tech when you come to them with a problem. You can do that for your network (and thus, your Ethernet connection) by following these steps for a Windows 10 computer:
- Search for the “Settings” app via the Windows “Start” button and open it.
- Navigate to “Network & Internet” and click “Status.”
- Select “Network Reset Link.”
- Click the “Reset” button and select “Yes” when the confirmation box asks if you’d like to reset your network.
Resetting your network essentially wipes the slate clean for your network settings, meaning it erases any connections, usernames, or passwords you’d previously created. It’ll also get rid of any network login information, alongside any information stored in paired hardware, such as your speakers.
As such, only use this option if you’re happy to rebuild all of these connections.
Fix Your Ethernet Issues
If you’re lucky, solving the problem of a disconnecting Ethernet cable will be as simple as replacing the cable or updating a driver or two to get your network adaptor working properly. However, some fixes require an investment on your part (such as replacing an Ethernet port) or will force you to reset your network settings completely. In the case of the latter solution, you have to reinstate your network connection, meaning you have to know your username and password for your internet connection.
What’s the most annoying experience you’ve had when your Ethernet cable disconnected? Would you use Wi-Fi over Ethernet if you had a stronger Wi-Fi connection? Let us know in the comments section below.
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