How to Fix Network Cable Unplugged Errors in Windows

Bright yellow cable
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When your computer network is not functioning properly, you may see "A Network Cable Is Unplugged" messages appear repeatedly on the Windows desktop. This message could pop up on screen once every few days or even once every few minutes depending on the nature of the problem. This can occur even if you are using a Wi-Fi wireless network!

What Causes "Network Cable Unplugged" Errors?

These errors have several potential causes.

In general, the error message appears on a computer when an installed Ethernet aetwork adapter is attempting unsuccessfully to make a local network connection. Reasons for failure include malfunctioning network adapters, bad Ethernet cables, and misbehaving network device drivers. Some who have 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:

  1. 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 power off and then restart the device to ensure any temporary memory corruption issues are cleared.
  2. 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.
  1. Check both ends of the Ethernet cable connected to the adapter to ensure they are not loose. Replace the Ethernet cable with a different one to verify the cable is not damaged.
  2. Update the network adapter driver software from the manufacturer's Web site to a newer version if available. If already running the latest available version, consider uninstalling and re-installing the driver.
  1. 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 have reported having more success with the Half Duplex option, but note that this setting lowers the maximum total data rate the device can support.
  2. 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.

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