After upgrading to Windows 10, when I unhibernated my laptop the next morning, my wifi connection didn’t work. The connection dropped and I couldn’t reconnect. Forgetting the network and reconnecting didn’t help. Any time I tried to reconnect to my wireless network, I’d get the message that Windows 10 can’t connect to this network.
The problem seemed to be in the power management.
I’ve had similar issues under Windows 7 after adding a new access point, but my usual fix for that didn’t help this time. I also found a number of articles online but they repeated a lot of generic advice that didn’t help. You know the drill. Reboot. Update your device drivers. Roll back your device drivers. Those things typically aren’t much help. There often are no newer drivers to update to, especially if you’re running Windows 10. In Windows 10’s case, there won’t be older drivers to “revert” to either, unless you want to go hunt down old Vista drivers or something.
I noticed a couple of other symptoms. One was an asterisk next to my wifi icon in the system tray. The other was a ton of events with event ID 5010 in my system log from netwlv32. Netwlv32 is my wireless driver.
That wireless driver turns out to be the key to fixing the error. But I don’t want you to replace the driver.
You can try rebooting your router if you want, but if your other wireless devices work, it’s probably not the router. Rebooting the computer probably won’t help in this case either.
You can dig around in your event viewer and look for event ID 5010 if you want, then confirm it’s your wireless driver. Or you can just try what I did and disable power management on your wireless card. That’s what I do now. I’ve fixed the wireless connectivity on several different types and brands of older laptops this way.
Disabling power management on your wireless card
I fixed it by hitting the Windows menu (what we used to call the Start menu) and typing Device Manager.
From there I navigated to Network Adapters. Then I double-clicked on my wireless adapter. Your wireless adapter should always have the word “wireless” somewhere in its name. Next, I navigated to the Power Management tab and unchecked the box next to Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power. Finally, I rebooted.
After that I was able to connect without issues. And I haven’t had the problem since, even going on two years.
This doesn’t disable power management in general. It just tells Windows not to shut that specific device down when it needs to save power. Windows can still use power management elsewhere in the system.
Why you get the can’t connect to this network error message
From what I’ve read, this seems to be a pretty common issue with Intel wireless cards, regardless of operating system. I haven’t personally seen the issue with anything other than Windows 10, but every Intel-based laptop I’ve upgraded to Windows 10 had this issue. This includes several generations of Dell, HP, and Lenovo laptops. There may be something about pre-Windows 10 Intel wireless network chips that makes them cranky with the newer versions of Windows. Other than this quirk with wireless, most older hardware still works with Windows 10 pretty well.
I may sacrifice a bit of battery life this way. But chances are if I’m running on battery, I’m using my wireless card and won’t want it to be turned off.
Of course, checking device drivers for updates isn’t a bad idea. But this advice doesn’t help older hardware that doesn’t have any newer device drivers and won’t be getting them. Frequently the older drivers aren’t officially supported, but drivers for Vista and later usually work in Windows 10. But what would you rather run? An old driver from 2006, or something that Microsoft tested around the time Windows 10 was released?
That’s what worked for me. If you’re getting the message that Windows 10 can’t connect to this network, chances are it will work for you too.
I hope this article helps you. And if you’re having this issue, chances are you’re running Windows 10 on older hardware. My blog post on Optimizing Windows 10 will probably help you pep up your old laptop’s performance too.