Fix: Network Adapter ‘this device cannot start. (code 10)’

People are now doing more and more things over the internet rather than in a local environment. Without an internet connection, several links are severed hence alienating the users. That is why the most common problem on the internet related to PCs is the failure of an internet connection. One such problem is as seen by the network adapter ‘code 10’ error. A lot of users have experienced this problem either from scratch, after an update or suddenly. The obvious symptom is that the network adapter (LAN/Ethernet, Wireless, NIC) does not seem to work. The LAN will simply not register a connection despite blinking, while the wireless adapter does not seem to find hotspots. For some users, both the Ethernet and Wi-Fi card is affected. On closer inspection, the users find an error in the device manager. Right in the properties of the network adapter, there is an error that says “This device cannot start. (code 10) {operation failed} the requested operation was unsuccessful.” What does this error mean, and how can it be resolved. This article is going to cover exactly that.

Why your Wi-Fi or Ethernet won’t start and what Code 10 means?

This error occurs when the device manager is unable to start a hardware device. This code 10 error is basically saying that Windows found your device, but for one reason or another, cannot communicate properly with one of your devices and is therefore unable to create a connection with it. Below are some of the reasons why.

Code 10 is almost always a driver issue. You are probably using an outdated driver, or an incompatible driver (meant for a different operating system). This case usually occurs when you update from say Windows 7, to Windows 10. While this is a simple problem that can be quickly corrected, there might be other problems that are not so obvious. If the problem developed suddenly, this could be caused by a conflict between new programs, or viruses, with the drivers. A software known as Primo Ramdisk has been known to cause this issue. Do not rule out the possibility that the NIC, Wireless card, or Ethernet port is fried and needs replacement. Ethernet and NICs are very sensitive to power surges. If you have been having storms, your network adapter might shut down or get damaged. For desktop users, there is also a possibility that you have plugged in your NIC (network interface card) or your wireless adapter into an incompatible PCI slot. Below are the solutions to this problem.

Method 1: Update your Device with the Correct Driver

If you are using the wrong drivers, download and install the correct drivers from your manufacturer. You will have to work from another PC that has an internet connection to get your downloads on to a USB drive.

  1. Go to your laptop manufacturer website. Dell users can go here, hp users can go here, Toshiba users can go here, Acer users can go here, while Lenovo users can go here. If your PC was a DIY build, you will need to visit your network card manufacturer for your drivers. You can go to the Realtek website here or download Intel network drivers < rel=”nofollow” href=””>here etc.
  2. You will likely be asked for your service tag or serial number. You can find this on a sticker at the bottom of your laptop. If the sticker is damaged you can find the service tag using cmdlets that read your BIOS. Click start > type PowerShell > Open PowerShell > Type “Get-WmiObject win32_bios” (without the quotes) and press enter. You will be shown your Serial Number/Service Tag. You can also choose to search for your laptop manually or use an auto-detect service.
  3. Type in your service tag and submit it. Your manufacturer will find your laptop model for you and present you with the updates and drivers.
  4. Search for your network adapter drivers that are meant for your OS (Windows 10, 8, 7 64 bit or 32 bit). Do not download BETA drivers since these are not stable.
  5. Install the downloaded network drivers by opening the downloaded file
  6. Restart your PC

If you are not sure which drivers you should be looking for, see windows wireless drivers.

Method 2: Power Cycle your PC

Completely discharging your PC might fix the unresponsive state of the network adapter. This might shake off any power surges that were registered in the adapter.

  1. Unplug your charger, power off your laptop, and remove your battery. If you are using a desktop PC, remove all the power cables.
  2. Hold down the power button for at least 30 seconds and then wait around 10 minutes.
  3. Put the battery back in, with the charger and reboot or plug back your power cables and boot your PC
  4. Check if this fixed it

Method 3: Switch your NIC (Network Interface card) or wireless adapter to another PCI slot (expansion slot)

Some motherboards have partially-implemented SMBus routing, in that it’s only applied to one (or maybe two) of the PCI slots. It would be perhaps that you have the NIC in the last (5th) PCI slot (PCI slot #4; the PCI are slots 0-4, with 0 being closest to the AGP slot). The last PCI slot has SMBus enabled, but the card uses the SMBus pins for something else, confusing the motherboard/BIOS.

This SMBus might also be on some other slot, or the current slot you are using has a problem. Power off your computer and try switching the network adapter to a new slot e.g. slot 1 and then reboot the PC.

Method 4: Restore your system to a point when the network adapter(s) worked

If a virus or a new program (as seen by Primo Ramdisk before the year 2017) or an update might have messed with your PC, conducting a system restore to the point your network adapter(s) worked will fix this problem. This is why you should create regular restore points. To create one for future references in Windows 10, press start type “restore” and click on ‘create a restore point’.

  1. Press Windows key + R to open Run
  2. Type ‘rstrui.exe’ (no quotes) and press enter to open the system restore program.
  3. Click next. In the next window, choose the restore point that bares a date before the problem occurred.
  4. Click next. In the last window, click Finish to confirm that you want to restore your system to an earlier point. Any changes made to the system including installed programs and configurations will be removed. Your personal files, downloads and documents will not be affected. Your system might restart a few times during this procedure.

Method 5: Reinstalling Wireless Drivers Manually

If none of the above methods work, we can try reinstalling the drivers manually ourselves after uninstalling it. Here, we will first navigate to the device manager, uninstall the drivers, and let the default drivers install themselves. If the default drivers don’t work as expected, we will manually install the drivers from the manufacturer’s website.

Note: Make sure that your Windows and BIOS are updated to the latest build before proceeding.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “devmgmt.msc” in the dialogue box and press Enter.
    Running Device Manager
  2. Once in the device manager, expand Network adapters. Now, disable the device first and then right-click and select Uninstall Driver. Delete the driver files if prompted as well.
  3. Once done with the removal of the driver, we will uninstall the Intel PROSet/Wireless Software. Press Windows + X and then press F.
  4. Locate the software and uninstall it. Download the software again and install it from here.
    Uninstall Wireless Software
  5. After installing, restart your computer and navigate back to the Device Manager. Right-click on any empty space and select Scan for hardware changes.
    Scan for hardware changes

Now check your Wi-Fi and see if it works as expected. If not, follow the steps:

  1. Navigate back to the Device Manager and expand to your network adapter. Right-click on the driver, select Update driver and then select Browse my computer for driver software.
    Browsing computer for driver software
  2. Select Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer.
    Click on Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer
    Click on Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer
  3. Click Have Disk and navigate to the following path. Select Netwtw08.IN and continue. If you are prompted, install the driver anyway.
    Selecting Wireless Driver
  4. Restart your computer after making changes and see if the issue is resolved.

You can download and install Intel Wireless-AC 9560 driver from here.

Method 6: Replace your NIC or Wireless card

If you have tried everything and you have narrowed down the problem to the network adapter card, you can replace it as a last resort. This is very simple to do on a desktop PC. You only need to unplug the card from the expansion slot (PCI slot) and plug in the new card. While it is not necessary to have an identical replacement, it is recommended to do so since it will help in finding future updates from your computer manufacturer.

Replacements for laptops are not that simple. The Wireless can be replaced however by disassembling the laptop. You will need an identical replacement card for this. If your LAN card is detachable, you can try finding a replacement. You can find your replacements from eBay or from a local repair shop.

Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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Fix: Network Adapter ‘this device cannot start. (code 10)’

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