Windows is one of the most advanced operating systems, but it’s not without fault. If your Windows device doesn’t show available networks, you won’t be able to connect to the internet.

It’s also important to remember that it’s not always Windows at the root cause of it all, and the hardware is often to blame.

Windows is, after all, a very compatible operating system for many kinds of hardware and shouldn’t receive all the blame when something goes wrong right out of the gate.

The good news is that numerous solutions help you get your device back on track.

Windows doesn’t show available networks for these reasons:

  • Router and modem issues.
  • Hardware updates.
  • Discoverability issues.
  • Firewalls and airplane modes.
  • WiFi is disabled.
  • Network adapter problems.
  • Outdated software.
  • Unidentifiable malfunctions.

Throughout this article, we’ll dive into why your Windows device can’t show available networks. We’ll also provide solutions to each of these concerns.

1. Router and modem distance issues

A modern WiFi router is placed on a table.

If your router and modem are too far away from the device, you won’t be able to connect to them.

The router and modem fetch and deliver the internet in a specific range. Every router and modem has a unique range.

Check their specs on their respective stickers or contact the manufacturer for specific information.

Another issue could be that too many things are blocking the router and modem.

You might be within the designated range, but excessive amounts of furniture, walls, and other obstacles will hinder the device’s performance.

You won’t be able to locate the router or modem on your Windows device if they’re blocked.

How to fix

If you think your router and modem have distance issues, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the router and modem to prevent electrical surges, then disconnect and move them to the closest location possible.
  2. Move as much furniture out of the way as possible to prevent connection concerns.
  3. Get a network extender to lengthen your WiFi distance.
  4. Turn the internet off and on to reset the connection.

The TP-Link WiFi Extender, for example, expands your router and modem’s connections by up to 1,200 square feet.

Plug it into a wall outlet between your Windows device and the router. It’s compatible with all Windows operating systems and versions.

The 733 MBPS transfer rate creates a seamless internet connection, so there’s virtually no signal strength reduction.

2. Hardware updates

A hand icon clicking on an update button.

According to Microsoft, outdated hardware is a common problem. People often forget to update their Windows drivers, modems, and routers.

These devices could have compatibility issues if they aren’t updated. So not only will they not show up in the network availability section, but they also might not provide enough signal strength.

Fortunately, Windows always shows when there’s an available update. You can keep the notifications turned on, which lets you know whenever you need to install anything new.

Another option is to set automatic updates on all of your Windows devices. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll update the router and modem.

How to fix

Drivers, modems, and routers are considered hardware. Go to your device’s home screen, then follow this method:

  1. Open the Windows Start Menu.
  2. Open the Settings app by clicking on the gear icon.
  3. Click on Windows Update.
  4. Choose Advanced options.
  5. Select Optional updates.
  6. Click on the Driver updates option.
  7. Expand each one and update them all by clicking on Download and install.
  8. Restart your computer.

Another solution is to head to the Windows support website. They have the latest driver updates to get rid of network identification issues.

We recommend backing up your device before getting the latest updates. Windows typically makes it very easy to locate the necessary driver updates for your make and model.

If you want to update your router and modem, plug them into your computer and go to the manufacturer’s website. They’ll have a list of the required driver updates for your specific devices.

3. The computer isn’t discoverable

A magnifying glass is placed on a computer keyboard to signify finding a computer.

You can alter your computer’s settings to make it undiscoverable by other devices.

This setting is typically used when you’re in an insecure public location. However, you might accidentally activate it when changing various settings.

If other devices can’t discover your computer, you won’t be able to find the desired network.

Fortunately, this is one of the easiest issues to fix. Unfortunately, it’s a bit uncommon because the only way to make your device undiscoverable to local networks is to change the setting manually.

However, fixing the problem is as easy as backtracking your steps. If your device is still not discoverable after our quick solution, the following problems are worth looking into.

How to fix

If the router can’t discover your computer, you won’t be able to connect to the network. To fix this problem, follow these instructions:

  1. Open the Control Panel. You can search for it in the Start Menu.
  2. Type in network and sharing in the search bar in the Control Panel.
  3. Choose Network and Sharing Center in the search results.
  4. Click on Change advanced sharing settings.
  5. Under Private, select Turn on network discovery and check Turn on automatic setup of network connected devices.
  6. At this point, it’s also a good idea to turn on file and printer sharing while you’re there.

If these steps don’t work, restart the router and modem. Sometimes, they need to be reset to discover a new device. This often happens before and after hardware and software updates.

4. Firewalls and Airplane Mode

A padlock representing a firewall for a computer is blocking network access.

Firewalls and airplane modes can prevent your Windows device from locating nearby networks.

Outdated firewalls could be an issue, but even the most updated firewalls can limit your device’s potential.

Firewalls are designed for security purposes. Rotten WiFi explains you can often fix this problem by turning off the firewall, but that’s not always the solution.

Airplane Mode turns off almost every function of the device that uses various signals. You won’t be able to text (if you have a Windows phone or tablet), connect to the internet, or search for local devices.

You’ll undoubtedly encounter network problems if you accidentally activate Airplane Mode or forget to turn it off.

How to fix

These modes can make it impossible to locate and connect to local networks. Try these suggestions to find a solution:

  • Turn off Airplane Mode whenever you want to connect to a network. If this doesn’t work, restart the device after deactivating the mode.
  • Deactivate every firewall on your computer. Check all the security programs on the device and turn them off, then test the network connections between each firewall deactivation.
  • Reactivate the firewalls while connected to the network to know if they’re the problem. If your network drops when you turn on a firewall, update the firewall or contact the company to report the issue.

Firewalls are notorious for messing with local networks. To prevent this common issue, always keep your Windows firewalls updated weekly.

5. WiFi is disabled

A blue WiFi Indicator light is showing on a laptop computer.

If your device’s WiFi is disabled, you won’t find any of the available networks. This common problem happens after restarting the device, adding a new update, changing some software, or after a power outage.

You might also accidentally turn off the WiFi slider when adjusting other settings by the icon (including the sound, battery life, etc.).

Disabled WiFi can occur on all Windows devices but affects any modern operating system. You should be able to find the WiFi status on an icon near the home page.

Some devices also have a secondary location in the settings menu or Start section (depending on if you have a Windows phone, tablet, or computer).

How to fix

The only way to fix this problem is to turn on WiFi. Check the signal icon. It should be illuminated.

If your Windows network icon isn’t highlighted or colored, click it, and you should be good to go. If it doesn’t work, your device might be trying to connect to a network that isn’t active.

For example, if your router is off or can’t supply internet from the service provider, it won’t illuminate the WiFi symbol on your device.

Restart the router and modem, then follow the manufacturer’s troubleshooting process.

6. Network adapter malfunctions

A WiFi card for a laptop computer.

Every internet-compatible device has a built-in network adapter. These adapters allow you to connect to local networks.

However, they occasionally experience connection issues. These problems occur when something’s outdated or a new update conflicts with something in or on the device.

For example, if you update the driver and there’s an outdated VPN, it could prevent the network adapter from connecting to a nearby network.

You should be able to find the broken network connection in the Device Manager settings to know if this is why your Windows device can’t find available internet.

How to fix

If your Windows device’s network adapter won’t work, it’s time to follow the solution below.

  • Open the Windows Settings app (The gear icon in the Start Menu).
  • Locate the Troubleshoot option.
  • Select Other troubleshooters.
  • Next to the Network Adapter listing, click on the Run button.

If those steps don’t work, try this:

  • Go to the device network settings (you can search for it in the Windows Start menu).
  • Find the network adapter, then ensure it’s on and updated.
  • Restart the Windows device and try to connect to the network.

Windows Dispatch claims network adapter issues are some of the most common reasons your Windows device can’t find a network.

You might need to contact Microsoft to find out which network adapter your device has.

Sometimes the WiFi card inside your laptop can go faulty. While this is seldom the case, it also helps if you get a computer technician to check the WiFi antenna connection to the card to ensure proper seating.

Another issue I’ve encountered is dirty WiFi card contacts. Sometimes a simple reseating of the card cures it, and other times, cleaning the card’s contacts fixes the issue.

7. Outdated software

Software updates for a computer.

Much like outdated hardware, outdated software can cause numerous issues.

For example, if you have a VPN connection that’s not updated, it can cause network identification problems.

It can also prevent you from connecting to the networks that show up on your Windows devices. Outdated software can be challenging to locate if you don’t know where to start.

Keep in mind that most VPNs, firewalls, and other software need to be current for maximum security.

You won’t receive the required benefits, nor will you be able to connect to the internet (in some cases).

Outdated software tells your device that it’s not compatible or safe enough to connect to any nearby networks.

How to fix

Your Windows device’s software instantly influences all network connections and availability.

If your device isn’t updated, you won’t be able to find some of the local networks.

You might not notice these issues because a few networks show up, but that doesn’t mean the software is current.

Try these quick solutions:

  • Find out which Windows update is the most recent. You can look in your device’s Update section to know if it’s current.
  • Update all of the drivers as mentioned above. Outdated drivers can conflict with updated software to create network problems.
  • Update any program that uses the internet. Software that relies on the internet can influence the available networks. You might not be able to access or locate these networks.

8. Unidentifiable problems

An abstract diagram of an unidentifiable problem.

If you’ve gone through all of these problems and solutions without fixing your Windows network connection issues, it’s time to troubleshoot.

Compatibility concerns can be very difficult to identify if you don’t know what caused them. Furthermore, you might not have the necessary skills or tools for the job.

On the bright side, Windows offers multiple ways to fix your network’s problems.

Troubleshooting allows you to go through a helpful process without needing to know anything about computers.

This step-by-step guide will help you get your Windows device connected to local networks in no time.

How to fix

There are two ways to troubleshoot your Windows network issues:

  1. Contact Windows customer support. They can access all the necessary information about your device’s make and model and how they influence the network connections. They can also find out which updates you need for the device. It’s best to call them or use their live chat support on another device.
  2. Go to the settings menu and type troubleshooting in the search bar. This option will help you find the necessary troubleshooting details for software, hardware, drivers, and network problems. You can also find troubleshooting details for firewalls, network adapters, and other issues mentioned earlier in the article.

Conclusion

We hope the eight solutions we’ve provided have helped you get your computer to show available networks.

There can be many causes of this problem. But unfortunately, troubleshooting it isn’t always straightforward.

Not being able to connect to a network on your Windows device can be frustrating. However, the tips and tricks you’ve learned today will help you access the necessary networks in no time.

If this blog post has been helpful for you, please share it with your friends and family members who may be struggling with the same issue. Thanks for reading!