Applies to

Applies to

Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro 3, Surface 3.

Applies to

Surface RT, Surface 2.

Operating system:

Can’t connect to a wireless network

If your Surface can’t find or connect to Wi-Fi or you have a slow Wi-Fi connection, here are some solutions to help.


Things to check first

Check the Wi-Fi settings on your Surface

Before trying the solutions in the table later on this page, double-check the Wi-Fi settings on your Surface:

Step 1:

Go to Start Windows logo, and select Settings > Network & Internet.

Step 2: Select Airplane mode and make sure it is set to Off.
Step 3: Select Wi-Fi and make sure it is set to On.
Important
If the Wi-Fi section is missing in your Network & Internet settings, see Wi-Fi settings are missing.
Network & Internet settings

Troubleshooting

If you’re still having trouble after following the steps above, find the scenario below that best describes the problem and follow the troubleshooting steps on the linked page.

Your Network & Internet settings

Symptoms

Go to this page

Wi-Fi settings missing
  • The Wi-Fi section is missing in Network & Internet settings.
  • The wireless network icon Wireless network icon is missing from the taskbar on your desktop.
No networks appear
  • No wireless networks appear in the list of networks in Network & Internet settings.
  • The wireless network icon Wireless icon showing Wi-Fi not available in the taskbar has a red X.
Network is missing
  • Your wireless network is missing from the list of networks in Network & Internet settings.
  • The wireless network icon Wireless icon showing networks are available in the taskbar has an asterisk, indicating that networks are available.
Can’t connect to network
  • Your wireless network shows as available in Network & Internet settings, but your Surface can’t connect to it.
  • The wireless network icon Wireless icon showing networks are available in the taskbar has an asterisk, indicating that networks are available.
Wireless network has limited connectivity
  • Your Surface is connected to Wi-Fi, but you can’t browse the Internet.
  • “Limited” may appear under your network name.
  • The wireless network icon Wireless network icon in the taskbar shows:
    • You’re connected Wireless network icon
      or
    • You have limited connectivity .
  • You may see a connection error when you open your web browser.
Wireless network is connected but slow
  • Your Surface is connected to Wi-Fi, but the network is slow.
  • The wireless network icon Wireless network icon in the taskbar shows that you’re connected.

Need help with a wired connection?

If you need help connecting your Surface to the Internet using a wired connection, see Connect Surface to a wired network.


What are the symptoms?

It may help to identify the symptoms before you decide how to fix a problem with Wi-Fi. The following three scenarios are the most common, and you may be able to fix them by installing the latest updates. See Solution 1 below to learn about installing updates.

  • Wi-Fi doesn’t work after Surface wakes up.
    If you can’t connect to Wi-Fi or see any available networks listed after you wake Surface, you may not have the latest updates installed.
  • Wi-Fi has limited connectivity.
    If you see a Limited connectivity message on Surface, you may not have the latest updates installed.

    Limited network connectivity
Note
Not all limited connectivity situations have solutions that can be controlled by the Wi-Fi drivers. Limited connectivity can result from a complex interaction of device Wi-Fi drivers, access point firmware, access point configuration, and other factors. We work continually to improve the range of limited connectivity problems that can be influenced with Surface driver updates.
  • Wi-Fi works but is very slow or the signal is weak.

    A slow wireless network can have a variety of causes. The router may be too busy to respond to new requests if several PCs or devices are using it. Try temporarily disconnecting other connected PCs or devices from the network.

    It may help to move your Surface closer to the router, and to move the router off the floor and away from walls and metal objects, such as metal filing cabinets.

    Also, make sure that you have all the latest updates installed.

Solution 1: Install the latest updates for Surface

Installing the latest updates can help fix common Wi-Fi connection issues.

Important

You’ll need to be online to install updates. If you are having trouble connecting to your home Wi-Fi network, try connecting to a public network at a coffee shop or library.

If a Wi-Fi network isn’t available, here are several other ways that you may be able to get online:

Once you’re online, check for the latest updates. Here’s how:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Settings.)
Step 2:  Tap or click Change PC settings, tap or click Update and recovery, and tap or click Windows Update.
Step 3:  Tap or click Check now.
Step 4:  If updates are available, tap or click View details.
Step 5:  Tap or click to select the updates you want to install, and tap or click Install.
You may need to restart your Surface after the updates have installed.

In addition to installing the latest Surface and Windows updates, check your router manufacturer’s website to download the latest updates for your router (firmware updates).

If you still can’t connect, try Solution 2.

Solution 2: Check your date and time settings

Check and, if needed, correct the date and time settings on your Surface. Here’s how:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Settings.)
Step 2:  Tap or click Change PC settings, tap or click Time and language, then tap or click Date and time.
Step 3:  Make sure the info is correct, or make changes as necessary.

If you still can’t connect, try Solution 3.

Solution 3: Restart Wi-Fi on Surface

Here’s how to restart Wi-Fi:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Settings.)
Step 2:  Tap or click wireless network Wireless network icon.

Wireless network icon
Step 3:  In Networks, under Wi-Fi, tap or click the setting to Off, and tap or click the setting to On again.
Step 4:  Tap or click the network you want to connect to, and tap or click Connect if necessary. Confirm that your network status now shows Connected.

If you still can’t connect, try Solution 4.

Solution 4: Restart network hardware and restart Surface

Try restarting your modem, router and Surface. Here’s how:

Step 1:  Remove the power cord from your modem and wireless router.
Step 2:  After all lights on the devices go out, wait at least 30 seconds, and plug the modem in again.

Note
Some modems have a battery backup that prevents the lights from going out. For this kind of modem, press and quickly release the reset button. If you don't see a reset button, remove the battery instead.
Step 3:  Plug in your router and wait another minute.

Next, restart Surface.

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Settings.)
Step 2:  Tap or click Power, and tap or click Restart.
Step 3:  Sign in to Windows, go back to Settings, and tap or click wireless network Wireless network icon.
Step 4:  Tap or click your wireless network name, and tap or click Connect.

If you still can’t connect, try Solution 5.

Solution 5: Run troubleshooters

The network troubleshooter or network adapter troubleshooter can be helpful in diagnosing and fixing Wi-Fi problems.

Use the network troubleshooter

Here’s how:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Search.)
Step 2:  In the search box, enter network troubleshooter.
Step 3:  In the search results, tap or click Identify and repair network problems.

Use the network adapter troubleshooter

Here’s how:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Search.)
Step 2:  In the search box, enter troubleshooting, and tap or click Troubleshooting.
Step 3:  Tap or click Network and Internet, and tap or click Network Adapter.

See if you can connect to Wi-Fi now. If not, try Solution 6.

Solution 6: Manually reinstall wireless driver

If the driver for the wireless card is corrupted or not installed, this will cause connectivity problems.

For Surface RT and Surface 2, Windows Update automatically updates your driver.

For Surface Pro models and Surface 3, you can update the driver using Windows Update, or you can install a driver manually if necessary. To do this, follow the steps in Install wireless drivers on Surface Pro or Surface 3.

For more info about updating network adapter drivers, see Update drivers in Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1.

Other solutions

Wireless connection problems can happen for many reasons. Here are other possible solutions to try.

Check your network

Are you able to connect to your wireless network from another PC or a smartphone? If not, the problem may be with the network itself. Contact your Internet service provider for help.

Check router compatibility

If you’re having problems while setting up your Surface for the first time, check to see if your router is fully compatible with Windows. Because of the new networking features in Windows, some older network routers aren't fully compatible and can cause problems. Go to Windows Compatibility Center for a list of routers that are compatible with Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1.

For info about connecting your Surface to your network, see Connect Surface to a wireless network.

Update router and access point firmware

Your router or access point might need a firmware update, especially if you’re only able to connect using WEP security or no security. Try downloading and installing a firmware update from your router or access point manufacturer’s website.

Check for interference

Some devices in your home, such as microwave ovens and some cordless phones, can cause interference between your Surface and networks that might be in range. If devices like these are near your Surface, turn them off temporarily or move them farther away.

Change the router or access point settings to use a different wireless channel, or set the channel to be selected automatically if it's set to a fixed channel number. Sometimes, one wireless channel will work better than others. Check the info that came with your access point or router for instructions about setting the wireless signal channel.

Check for MAC filtering

Wireless routers can prevent unauthorised network access by using a feature called MAC filtering. Unfortunately, MAC filtering can also prevent your Surface from connecting to your wireless network.

If MAC filtering is turned on, try one of the following:

  • Turn off MAC filtering temporarily to see if that is preventing Surface from connecting to your wireless network.
  • Add the MAC address of your Surface to your router's authorised list.

Here’s how to find the MAC address for your Surface:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Search.)
Step 2:  In the search box, enter cmd, and in the search results tap or click Command Prompt.
Step 3:  At the command prompt, enter ipconfig /all, and press Enter.
Step 4:  Find the Physical Address. This is the MAC address for your Surface.

Find the Physical Address or MAC address

To change MAC filtering settings on your router, refer to the info that came with your router or that is on the hardware manufacturer's website. If you change your router's MAC filtering settings, restart your router before trying to connect Surface to your wireless network.

Make sure your router is broadcasting the network name

If you’re having trouble finding your wireless network in the list of available networks, your wireless router might not be set to broadcast its network ID (SSID). To turn on SSID broadcasting, refer to the info that came with the router. For more info about how to connect to a hidden wireless network, see “How do I connect to a hidden wireless network?” in Wired and wireless network problems.

For more details about network detection issues, see Why can’t I find a wireless network?


What are the symptoms?

It may help to identify the symptoms before you decide how to fix a problem with Wi-Fi. The following three scenarios are the most common, and you may be able to fix them by installing the latest updates. See Solution 1 below to learn about installing updates.

  • Wi-Fi doesn’t work after Surface wakes up.
    If you can’t connect to Wi-Fi or see any available networks listed after you wake Surface, you may not have the latest updates installed.
  • Wi-Fi has limited connectivity.
    If you see a Limited connectivity message on Surface, you may not have the latest updates installed.

    Limited network connectivity
Note
Not all limited connectivity situations have solutions that can be controlled by the Wi-Fi drivers. Limited connectivity can result from a complex interaction of device Wi-Fi drivers, access point firmware, access point configuration, and other factors. We work continually to improve the range of limited connectivity problems that can be influenced with Surface driver updates.
  • Wi-Fi works but is very slow or the signal is weak.

    A slow wireless network can have a variety of causes. The router may be too busy to respond to new requests if several PCs or devices are using it. Try temporarily disconnecting other connected PCs or devices from the network.

    It may help to move your Surface closer to the router, and to move the router off the floor and away from walls and metal objects, such as metal filing cabinets.

    Also, make sure that you have all the latest updates installed.

Solution 1: Install the latest updates for Surface

Installing the latest updates can help fix common Wi-Fi connection issues.

Important

You’ll need to be online to install updates. If you are having trouble connecting to your home Wi-Fi network, try connecting to a public network at a coffee shop or library.

If a Wi-Fi network isn’t available, here are several other ways that you may be able to get online:

Once you’re online, check for the latest updates. Here’s how:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Settings.)
Step 2:  Tap or click Change PC settings, tap or click Update and recovery, and tap or click Windows Update.
Step 3:  Tap or click Check now.
Step 4:  If updates are available, tap or click View details.
Step 5:  Tap or click to select the updates you want to install, and tap or click Install.
You may need to restart your Surface after the updates have installed.

In addition to installing the latest Surface and Windows updates, check your router manufacturer’s website to download the latest updates for your router (firmware updates).

If you still can’t connect, try Solution 2.

Solution 2: Check your date and time settings

Check and, if needed, correct the date and time settings on your Surface. Here’s how:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Settings.)
Step 2:  Tap or click Change PC settings, tap or click Time and language, then tap or click Date and time.
Step 3:  Make sure the info is correct, or make changes as necessary.

If you still can’t connect, try Solution 3.

Solution 3: Restart Wi-Fi on Surface

Here’s how to restart Wi-Fi:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Settings.)
Step 2:  Tap or click wireless network Wireless network icon.

Wireless network icon
Step 3:  In Networks, under Wi-Fi, tap or click the setting to Off, and tap or click the setting to On again.
Step 4:  Tap or click the network you want to connect to, and tap or click Connect if necessary. Confirm that your network status now shows Connected.

If you still can’t connect, try Solution 4.

Solution 4: Restart network hardware and restart Surface

Try restarting your modem, router and Surface. Here’s how:

Step 1:  Remove the power cord from your modem and wireless router.
Step 2:  After all lights on the devices go out, wait at least 30 seconds, and plug the modem in again.

Note
Some modems have a battery backup that prevents the lights from going out. For this kind of modem, press and quickly release the reset button. If you don't see a reset button, remove the battery instead.
Step 3:  Plug in your router and wait another minute.

Next, restart Surface.

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Settings.)
Step 2:  Tap or click Power, and tap or click Restart.
Step 3:  Sign in to Windows, go back to Settings, and tap or click wireless network Wireless network icon.
Step 4:  Tap or click your wireless network name, and tap or click Connect.

If you still can’t connect, try Solution 5.

Solution 5: Run troubleshooters

The network troubleshooter or network adapter troubleshooter can be helpful in diagnosing and fixing Wi-Fi problems.

Use the network troubleshooter

Here’s how:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Search.)
Step 2:  In the search box, enter network troubleshooter.
Step 3:  In the search results, tap or click Identify and repair network problems.

Use the network adapter troubleshooter

Here’s how:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Search.)
Step 2:  In the search box, enter troubleshooting, and tap or click Troubleshooting.
Step 3:  Tap or click Network and Internet, and tap or click Network Adapter.

See if you can connect to Wi-Fi now. If not, try Solution 6.

Solution 6: Manually reinstall wireless driver

If the driver for the wireless card is corrupted or not installed, this will cause connectivity problems.

For Surface RT and Surface 2, Windows Update automatically updates your driver.

For Surface Pro models and Surface 3, you can update the driver using Windows Update, or you can install a driver manually if necessary. To do this, follow the steps in Install wireless drivers on Surface Pro or Surface 3.

For more info about updating network adapter drivers, see Update drivers in Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1.

Other solutions

Wireless connection problems can happen for many reasons. Here are other possible solutions to try.

Check your network

Are you able to connect to your wireless network from another PC or a smartphone? If not, the problem may be with the network itself. Contact your Internet service provider for help.

Check router compatibility

If you’re having problems while setting up your Surface for the first time, check to see if your router is fully compatible with Windows. Because of the new networking features in Windows, some older network routers aren't fully compatible and can cause problems. Go to Windows Compatibility Center for a list of routers that are compatible with Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1.

For info about connecting your Surface to your network, see Connect Surface to a wireless network.

Update router and access point firmware

Your router or access point might need a firmware update, especially if you’re only able to connect using WEP security or no security. Try downloading and installing a firmware update from your router or access point manufacturer’s website.

Check for interference

Some devices in your home, such as microwave ovens and some cordless phones, can cause interference between your Surface and networks that might be in range. If devices like these are near your Surface, turn them off temporarily or move them farther away.

Change the router or access point settings to use a different wireless channel, or set the channel to be selected automatically if it's set to a fixed channel number. Sometimes, one wireless channel will work better than others. Check the info that came with your access point or router for instructions about setting the wireless signal channel.

Check for MAC filtering

Wireless routers can prevent unauthorised network access by using a feature called MAC filtering. Unfortunately, MAC filtering can also prevent your Surface from connecting to your wireless network.

If MAC filtering is turned on, try one of the following:

  • Turn off MAC filtering temporarily to see if that is preventing Surface from connecting to your wireless network.
  • Add the MAC address of your Surface to your router's authorised list.

Here’s how to find the MAC address for your Surface:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Search.)
Step 2:  In the search box, enter cmd, and in the search results tap or click Command Prompt.
Step 3:  At the command prompt, enter ipconfig /all, and press Enter.
Step 4:  Find the Physical Address. This is the MAC address for your Surface.

Find the Physical Address or MAC address

To change MAC filtering settings on your router, refer to the info that came with your router or that is on the hardware manufacturer's website. If you change your router's MAC filtering settings, restart your router before trying to connect Surface to your wireless network.

Make sure your router is broadcasting the network name

If you’re having trouble finding your wireless network in the list of available networks, your wireless router might not be set to broadcast its network ID (SSID). To turn on SSID broadcasting, refer to the info that came with the router. For more info about how to connect to a hidden wireless network, see “How do I connect to a hidden wireless network?” in Wired and wireless network problems.

For more details about network detection issues, see Why can’t I find a wireless network?


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