How do I turn on the Wi-Fi adapter on my laptop?

Many users connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi. This is usually straightforward - moreover, the corresponding connection is usually established automatically. But sometimes this does not happen, which may be due to a disabled Wi-Fi adapter - for example, on a laptop. How to solve this problem? How do I turn on the Wi-Fi adapter on my laptop?

Several points will help to understand this issue:

Let's start with the first point.

What is a Wi-Fi adapter?

This device (also called a Wi-Fi module) is a small microcircuit capable of detecting radio signals from Wi-Fi routers - devices that "distribute" wireless Internet, as well as broadcasting them back. In modern laptops, Wi-Fi adapters are most often installed by the manufacturer. If necessary, you can install its external analogue, usually connected to the USB port.

As for the built-in Wi-Fi adapters, they are usually located inside the case and therefore are not visible to the user. However, on laptops, there are a number of hardware indicators for turning on the corresponding device. Operating systems, in turn, have software elements that allow you to see that the adapter is active.

How to correctly turn on the Wi-Fi adapter

Before performing any actions, it is useful to see if the adapter was accidentally turned on by someone. This may be indicated by a special icon in Windows located next to the clock.

You should click on it - and if Wi-Fi networks are displayed, it means that the adapter is already turned on. Let us agree, however, that it is still turned off (there is no marked program indicator in Windows).

Before performing any complex actions, you need to check - maybe the device is turned off by hardware. Typically, on laptops, function keys are responsible for this option - for example, F2, F3, F5, F12 - depending on the manufacturer. They often have an icon with radio waves - like in the picture.

Some laptop manufacturers incorporate a small LED indicator into the corresponding key. By pressing it (possibly in combination with the Fn button), you can thus turn the adapter on or off. If the LED indicator (let's agree that it is) is on, then the Wi-Fi module is turned on and should function correctly.

However, the indicator may well signal that the device is active, but the corresponding icon in the Windows interface will be absent. What is the most common reason for this? Usually, because there are no drivers installed on the laptop's Wi-Fi adapter.

In order to check this, you need to open the Windows "Control Panel" by entering the "Computer". After - select the section "Hardware and Sound", then - "Devices and Printers", then - "Device Manager". Next, we check if there is a Wi-Fi module in the list of devices (it should be in the "Network adapters" section). If so, then the driver is installed on it. In this case, the reason that the device does not work is something else (a little later we will study the possible malfunction factors).

If the device is not in the list of "Network adapters", then check the section "Other devices". It may mark the Wi-Fi module as a device for which the driver could not be installed. Where can I get them?

The necessary drivers for the Wi-Fi adapter must be on one of the disks supplied with the notebook when purchasing it. Usually it is signed as Drivers or similar. Insert it into the drive, then right-click on the Wi-Fi module in Other Devices, select Properties, then click on the Update Driver button. During this procedure, it will be necessary to indicate that the corresponding type of software is on the disk attached to the laptop.

Windows will notify the user about the successful installation of the adapter with a separate message. As soon as it appears, it is advisable to restart the computer (perhaps Windows will ask you to do this). After restarting the operating system, the adapter should work: the above software indicator will show the available Wi-Fi networks.

It is quite possible that:

  • The Wi-Fi adapter is in the list displayed by the Device Manager, the indicator is on - but the device does not function (the icon for connecting to Wi-Fi networks in Windows);
  • The Wi-Fi adapter is not listed in the “Other Devices” list, although it is known to be installed by the laptop manufacturer.

Let's consider the possible reasons for the occurrence of such overlaps, in which it is not possible to turn on the Wi-Fi adapter on a laptop.

Reasons for not being able to turn on the Wi-Fi adapter

The most obvious reason for the above situations may be the failure of the adapter. Like any other electronic component, the Wi-Fi module can be damaged due to external influences, electromagnetic fields, voltage surges, etc. port (often it is even cheaper than contacting the masters - if we are not talking about warranty service).

Other reasons that predetermine the impossibility of turning on the Wi-Fi adapter will almost always be of a software nature. These include:

  • intentional disabling of the Wi-Fi adapter by the previous laptop user in the Windows settings;
  • intentional disabling of the software module responsible for wireless connections by the previous user;
  • Infection of a computer with a virus that prevents the establishment of wireless connections.

To check if the first scenario takes place, you need to enter the Windows Control Panel, select Device Manager and see if the Wi-Fi adapter is marked as a disabled device (in red - like on a picture).

If so, then right-click on the device and select “Enable”.

It is possible that the previous laptop user for some reason disabled not the adapter, but the Windows software module that ensures the functioning of wireless connections. You need to enter the "Control Panel", then select "Network Connections". The screen should display various communication options, including wireless. It is necessary to check whether it is active - by the corresponding captions next to the icon. If the wireless connection is turned off, then you should turn it on by right-clicking on it and selecting the desired item.

Another scenario in which the Wi-Fi module may not function is a computer infection with a virus that blocks attempts to establish a wireless connection. It is quite difficult to diagnose this problem by indirect indications. But, as a rule, a laptop in such cases starts to work much slower, programs freeze, spontaneously close. You need to install a good antivirus on Windows as soon as possible - Kaspersky, NOD32 (paid), Avast, Comodo (there are free versions for home PC owners) and scan your computer's disks.


It is possible that after detecting a virus and curing a laptop from it, you will have to reinstall the drivers on the Wi-Fi module - in accordance with the algorithm discussed above.