What do you do when Windows gives you an error saying there’s a problem with your WiFi card driver or the WiFi just stops working suddenly but it works for your other devices? This issue, in my experience, is typically caused by a Windows update that installs a new, Microsoft-provided wifi/bluetooth driver. Notice, I italicized Microsoft-provided, because this is the problem. Microsoft Windows is installed on millions (billions? trillions?) of computers worldwide with countless variations in hardware configuration, but actually a much smaller number of variations in the installed wifi adapter card. These cards are typically supplied by either Intel or Qualcomm, and when they stop working – again, in my experience – it is almost always due to the Microsoft-provided driver being incompatible with the card.
So what’s the solution? Get the wifi adapter manufacturer’s driver directly from the wifi adapter manufacturer. Sometimes you can get an updated driver from your computer vendor (Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc.), but not always, although in the case of Qualcomm, they don’t seem to provide direct download of their drivers, so you’ll need to get it from the computer manufacturer. And you might end up installing a driver that is older than the one Microsoft installed – don’t worry about that, it should work fine, and after all, it wasn’t working to begin with so what do you have to lose?
How do you know which kind of adapter you have? The process is the same whether you are using Windows 10 or 11. (If you’re still using Windows 7? Dude, you need to upgrade, it’s 2023.)
- Click on the Start Menu, or just press the Windows key on your keyboard (it’s the one near the Alt key that looks like 4 squares)
- Start typing: “Device Manager”. When you’ve finished typing hit Return (or Enter). This will open the Device Manager tool.
- Scroll down the list to “Network adapters” and double-click on that (or single-click the > symbol to the left of it).
- You should see a few or many items listed. You’re looking for the one that says “Wi-Fi” or “Wifi” or similar. That’s your adapter. Write down the full name.
Once you know which adapter you have, you can get the driver. Obviously, you’re going to need to use a different computer, so find a family member or friend or use one of these. Here’s where you can get the Intel drivers:
For Qualcomm, you’ll need to go to your computer manufacturer’s support site, go to the page for your computer, and download the latest driver they have.
Download the driver software and install it by running the downloaded executable file. If it doesn’t work the first time, go back to Device Manager, find the wifi adapter again, right-click and choose Uninstall Device. Then run the driver installation again.
Now, if that doesn’t work, and you have an Intel wifi adapter, then you might need to follow the more rigorous approach that was helpfully detailed by a gentleman by the name of Scott Pearson on the Intel forums, here:
I have found that the above method works when nothing else does. Full credit to Scott Pearson for providing this solution, which I’ve not seen anywhere else.
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