Why won't my 64-bit Windows 7 laptop connect to the internet/cable modem
August 7, 2014 1:35 AM   Subscribe

I'm having trouble connecting to the internet or to my cable modem. I just bought a used (Dell, 64-bit) laptop. I've been using a Motorola Surfboard SB1501U cable modem plugged in through ethernet on my old (Acer, 32-bit) laptop. I plugged it into the Dell and it immediately connected to the internet. There was a couple of other unrelated issues though, but there is no factory reset option and I thought I'd start with a clean slate. So, I made an installation disk and reinstalled the OS, W7 for a 64-bit computer. Everything went smoothly. But now I can't connect to the internet, either through the ethernet or the USB and installation disk.

It won't show the list of wireless networks either. I've tried all the "network connection" and internet related options I could find. The installation disk is useless and in fact doesn't list W7 as a compatible system even though I initially connected and have been using it thru the ethernet on the Acer for years.

Everything I've been reading online says the modem is not compatible with W7 or W7 64-bit or to just use the ethernet and it should connect (it doesn't). I tried downloading a driver to my Acer and transferring it to the Dell but that didn't work. But I know for a fact the ethernet modem connection at least did work perfectly just a few hours ago. And I can plug it into the Acer and it starts working immediately so I know it's not the modem. And even if the modem doesn't work, shouldn't the laptop pick up the wireless networks?

Can anyone tell me what's going on? Did I install something wrong? Is it in fact the 64-bit compatibility issue and that it worked earlier was just a fluke? Is there something important I need to do on the laptop before I can connect to the internet? Thank you in advance! If you need any details about anything just ask. If it matter, I don't have or use a wireless router.
posted by atinna to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Can you connect at a coffee shop?
And it worked, but then you reformatted the computer and now it doesn't?
posted by k8t at 4:57 AM on August 7, 2014

It's almost certainly missing drivers. To see if you are missing drivers, Start -> Run, then type "mmc devmgmt.msc" in the Run box (without the quotes). Missing drivers will show a Yellow triangle with a ! in it. When you downloaded a driver, did you get it from Dell? You should have a sticker somewhere on the machine with a service tag number, you can enter that at the Dell support site, then find the drivers and downloads for your model, then make sure to download the right drivers for W7 64-bit.
posted by outfielder at 6:20 AM on August 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: it sounds like a problem with your installation of W7... likely that the drivers for the networking hardware either weren't installed correctly or weren't supported by default W7.

you should go to the dell website (if you have access to another computer) go to support and search for the driver package for your specific laptop. look on the bottom of the laptop for the exact model number (not "inspiron 14" but a string of numbers and letters) , search for that model number + driver. you should be able to find a installer package for all the extra drivers your laptop needs on top of vanilla W7, which you can download and put on the machine with a usb disk.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:27 AM on August 7, 2014

Just to verify, the ethernet connection on your Dell only stopped working after you reinstalled Windows 7, right? Almost certainly a driver issue then, and the above answers should be able to get you started.

One caveat: if the computer didn't come with 64-bit Windows, the drivers from Dell's site may not be compatible with 64-bit Windows (and no, you cannot use 32-bit drivers). If this is the case you either need to figure out exactly who manufactured the network interface on your laptop and see if you can get drivers directly from them, or install 32-bit Windows instead. If you have less than 3 GB of RAM on the laptop it really doesn't matter if you have 32-bit or 64-bit, and even if you have 4 GB of RAM it's a pretty minor issue.

If you can find the exact model number of your laptop, that'd probably be helpful.
posted by Aleyn at 10:11 AM on August 7, 2014

Response by poster: Ennui.bz, the Dell website had the network/internet drivers needed to connect to the internet and then the computer automatically loaded new drivers from online. I did have to transfer from my old laptop to the Dell so it looks like the other "driver packages" I found and tried from searching online which didn't work were just the wrong ones.
posted by atinna at 8:55 PM on August 9, 2014

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