Applies to

Surface RT, Surface 2, Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro 3, Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1.


Can’t connect to a wireless network

Here are some solutions to try if you can’t connect to Wi-Fi, or if you have limited connectivity, your connection signal is weak, drops intermittently, or you can’t find a network.


Before you begin

  • Are you 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.
  • Can you connect to your wireless network, to a website, or to email using another computer?
    If not, the problem may be with the network itself. Contact your Internet service provider for help.
  • Are all the cables for your network are connected properly?
    Make sure your modem is connected to a working phone jack or cable connection, either directly or through your router. See Connect your home network to the Internet for more info.
  • Is your Surface near your wireless router?
    It can help to move Surface close to the router, and to move the router off the floor and away from walls and metal objects (such as metal file cabinets).
  • Have you forgotten your wireless network password?
    If you can’t connect because you don’t know your wireless network password, see How to find your wireless network password.
  • Is Airplane mode off?
    To check, swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap or click Settings, and tap or click the wireless network icon. Make sure Airplane mode is set to Off.
  • Is your Surface displaying the correct date and time?
    To check and make changes if necessary, swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap or click Settings. Then tap or click Change PC settings, tap or click Time and language, and tap or click Date and time. Make sure the information is correct, or make changes as necessary.
  • Trying to connect using your mobile broadband connection?
    See Can’t connect to mobile broadband?

Solution 1: Restart Wi-Fi on Surface

Here’s how to restart Wi-Fi:

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

Wireless network icon

Step 3: In Networks, under Wi-Fi, tap or click the setting to Off, and then 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 2.

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

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

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

See if you can connect to Wi-Fi now. If not, try Solution 4.

Solution 4: Install the latest updates for Surface

Make sure you have the latest updates for Surface. Updates may fix connection issues including some issues with limited connectivity. For more info, see Install Surface and Windows updates.

You can also visit your router manufacturer’s website to download the latest updates for your router (firmware updates).

Notes
  • If you aren’t online and can’t install the updates, try connecting to a public network at a coffee shop or library to install the updates.
  • Surface Pro: You can also try to get online with a wired connection to install updates. For more info, see Connect to a wired network.

What if I am still getting a limited connectivity message?

Wireless network with limited connectivity

Limited connectivity can happen for a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is that you can’t access the Internet in this state.

This issue may be fixed by updating Surface with the latest Wi-Fi drivers through Windows Update.

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 are continually working to improve the range of limited connectivity problems that can be influenced with Surface driver updates.

Solution 5: Manually reinstall wireless driver

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

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

For Surface Pro, 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.

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 a wide variety of reasons. Here are other possible solutions to try.

Update router and access point firmware

Your router or access point might need a firmware upgrade, especially if you’re only able to connect using WEP security or no security. Download a firmware upgrade from the router or access point manufacturer’s website and apply it, following the directions on the website or with the downloaded file.

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 unauthorized 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 on your router to see if MAC filtering is preventing your Surface from connecting to your wireless network.
  • Add the MAC address of your Surface to your router’s authorized list.

To find the MAC address for your Surface, follow these steps:

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

To change MAC filtering settings on your router, refer to the info that came with your router or 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, the problem may be that your wireless router isn’t set to broadcast its network ID (SSID). To turn on SSID broadcasting, refer to the info that came with the wireless 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?

Other ways to connect

When a Wi-Fi network isn’t available, you can try one of the following options:



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Saturday and Sunday
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6am - 3pm (Pacfic Time)

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