In Windows machines, there is usually the ability to plug your computer directly into a router, modem or other device via your Ethernet cord and – bam! – you instantly have internet. This is mostly due to the fact that internet and networking engineers and standards are, for the most part, super great and super, super smart – however, on occasion our computers or networks aren’t necessarily set up properly or they may just ‘not like us’ presently and give us problems. One such problem, which obviously landed you on reading this article in the first place, is should your Ethernet connection not be picking up a Valid IP Configuration.
Don’t panic! If you allay your emotional distress in order to find a solution, you’ll be connected again in no time. There are answers to this problem, you just need to know where to look!
Root Cause: What Exactly is a ‘Valid’ IP Configuration? Why is Mine Not Valid?
There’s three common reasons we may see this kind of error on Windows 8 and above. Let’s examine them together (While we’re at it, check out this unrelated list of ultimate HTTP errors to learn more about root causes of error messages):
Bad Networking Device (or Just Settings)!
- Your router, modem, etc. is behaving incorrectly.
Bad Automatic Assignment of an IP. D’oh!
- Your computer is having issues connecting through your current ethernet cable.
Bad Network Interface Card. Uh-oh…
- The NIC in your computer isn’t finding local connections through your ethernet cable.
Solution Method #1: Great and All, How Do I Fix My Router (Or Other Networking Device)?
- Reset the device! This is an easy step, and quick to do: there should be a tiny hardware reset button on the back of your networking device for you to poke with a pin. Wait for the device’s lights to flash on and off one or more times. As with many issues related to computers, simply resetting the device will often produce the result you’re looking for.
- Ensure that your ethernet cable is plugged into the LAN port, and not the WAN/Internet port. This is a simple mistake, but one that must be addressed. Feeling down about having something so simple be the problem? Don’t worry. Mistakes like this happen to the best of us. Oftentimes, the most simple solution is the one that works. Fixing this issue should solve your problems and allow you to have a valid IP configuration on your Windows device. With computers, it’s easy for you to overthink things and start to panic that the issue is something you can’t solve. However, given that these two solutions are easy fixes, you can take comfort in the fact that many issues can be resolved in simple ways.
Solution Method #2: My Automatically-Assigned IP (via DHCP) Isn’t Cutting It? What Do I Do?
So you’re having issues with your automatically-assigned IP address, you say? This is a simple solution, which gives you a number of options. Don’t fret! You can change your IP address to resolve this issue. In fact, you can create a unique static IP address for your device. Doing so will allow you to have a unique IP address. In doing so, you’ll be able to prevent one of the most frequent problems associated with DHCP assigned IP addresses: repeats of the same IP address on multiple devices when using a dynamic IP address. Dynamic IP addresses are automatically assigned by, you guessed it, your DHCP. This offers a quick and easy way to access the internet, unless other problems come up. While creating a static IP address isn’t the easiest thing to do, you’ll be able to experience other benefits. One such benefit is a unique IP address that doesn’t interrupt your connection.
Creating a static IP address involves manually creating a new IP for your device as you connect. This process is relatively simple, but requires attention to detail. When setting static IP addresses on your network, you must remember one important thing: ALL IP ADDRESSES ON THE NETWORK MUST BE UNIQUE! If you don’t set a unique IP address, you’ll wind up with the same issues you had before. Write down each IP address so you don’t accidentally duplicate them, but make sure to keep the list safe. Allowing others access to your IP address increases security risks and opens you up to dangerous consequences. Beware! Seriously, though, protecting your vital information requires proper security measures. In fact, one downside of a static IP address is that it makes your connection more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Don’t make it easier for someone to breach your network and devices by leaving your list of IP addresses hanging around.
Solution Method #3: The Horror! I Have Bad Hardware? What Can I Do?
Fear not! The easiest, simplest and cheapest solution may just be to a) replace the hardware with new Ethernet hardware (far easier in a desktop), or b) buy a Network Interface device that could potentially be cheaper and more useful – ie. a USB Wi-Fi device. Either way, your next stop in this line of troubleshooting is your local BestBuy (does Futureshop still exist?), Staples, Walmart or – better yet – a local tech shop! The professionals here can be an immense wealth of knowledge and assistance.
Should you feel comfortable enough that you know the technical specifications of your computer, requirements and capabilities of your network, and all of the other related factors – you may be safe making this hardware upgrade / replacement / purchase on eBay or Amazon, and sitting tight while your fancy new technology arrives!
PS: Check out this great but unrelated article about other errors related to hardware problems on Windows devices. The more you know!
Pro Tips Galore:
- Sometimes the solution is so simple, you won’t be able to believe it. Restarting your modem or device can be the quickest and most effective fix to the problem. Feeling down about not going for the easy solution before spending hours slaving away trying to solve what seems to be a complex issue? Don’t worry! Many people refuse to believe the answer to their problem is the simple one. In fact, numerous IT professionals have spent a significant amount of their working life asking the following question: have you tried restarting your device? Clearly, the professionals trust this method as the first step in diagnosing problems. Maybe they’re onto something? Instead of immediately running around in a panic and trying to become an expert overnight, just trust the experts and remember this piece of advice: keep it simple, stupid (Pro Tip: you can Google many examples of industry leaders explaining their views on ‘KISS’).
- Just as restarting your modem may seem like too obvious and simple of a fix to truly work, another potential fix seems too good to be true: ensuring the Ethernet cable is plugged into the right port on your modem. If this is in fact the issue, rectifying it can save you hours of frustration. Again, don’t get down on yourself if this is what’s causing you problems. Take solace in the fact that your issues can be solved in such a quick and simple way. You’ll be back online in no time, and will avoid serious frustration, stress, and the desire to take a baseball bat to your device/modem.
- Get your own IP address! No, seriously, create your own static IP address that is unique. Automatically-assigned IP addresses through your DHCP are great in that they’re constantly changing. This offers greater security, as anyone trying to get your information would have to constantly guess at your current IP address. However, this can also create issues. One such issue, for instance, is when it assigns the same IP address to multiple devices on the same network – thereby causing this whole mess to have happened in the first place!. Creating static IP addresses for each device on the network allows you to guarantee that everyone has a unique IP address for uninterrupted connectivity. Keep these IP addresses safe though! Static addresses increase your vulnerability, as it makes it easier for hackers to guess your IP address and launch an attack on your device.
- If everything else fails, you might have a hardware problem. How do you solve this? A trip to your local Best Buy, Walmart, Staples, or your best option – the local tech shop. Experts will help you find the necessary equipment to fix these issues. Could it be a bad ethernet port on your device? They’ll help you with a replacement. Need a more stable way to connect? You can bet they have the right equipment to help with that. All of your hardware needs can be addressed by industry professionals, and you’ll walk away a happy customer knowing your problems are fixed. What if you’re a true do-it-yourselfer, though? What if you already have the know-how to fix these issues and want to fix it on your own? First, gold star for you! Many of these technical difficulties continue to confuse and frustrate the average user. You, however, are the expert of your domain. Congratulations! You should also visit your local tech shop or Best Buy and pick out the hardware you feel most comfortable with. However, there’s also Amazon. Unfortunately, you won’t get the instant gratification of driving home from the store and showing these errors who’s boss immediately. That will come later.
Speaking of gold stars, you already get one! You’ve read this far. Bravo to you. Now that you know many of the most common issues associated with ethernet connection and invalid IP addresses for your Windows device, you’re ready to tackle the world. Or at least fix these issues. Either way, excellent job! Now celebrate your newfound knowledge!