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Windows 7/How to reinstall ethernet controller


Mike, you've been great in helping me in the past with my acer wireless laptop(Windows 7) I hope you can help me again.
This is a technical question so if I'm in the wrong area at allexperts please tell me which category I should go to, thanks.

My service provider is Comcast & I've been accessing their wifi hotspot signal for months now. I normally can get online with no problem & get a good strong signal. However last week I couldn't get online. Of course I complained but they kept telling me I needed to use a modem,(but a family member whom I trust always said I shouldn't need one since the acer is wifi enabled.) but since I'm a student taking online courses & need to be online all the time I gave in & did get a modem & gave Comcast the numbers for the modem. However after many attempts I still couldn't get online.

So then I was transferred to a tech specialist who was testing my service. He wanted me to uninstall my Ethernet controller in the device manager. I asked if that for him will I be able to re-install it? He said yes. However upon trying to reinstall the error message said "Windows was unable to install ethernet controller". I was advised to get a router.

The tech said he was not allowed to tell me how to reinstall it  as it was complicated & transferred me to another place( which wanted $80 to tell me how!!!!!! Of course I said no,as it was the Comcast's tech's fault initially. So I figured someone on allexperts would be able to assist me to find the Windows 7 disk to reinstall the Ethernet.

That said, after 24 hrs & trying multiple times today to get service using the modem & it still not working; I called in again but this time heard a prompt for an automated Comcast system "reboot" my modem. I tried it & a few minutes later I had online service! Wow is right!

So now my 2 questions are: 1- do you think I really need a router with my wireless laptop?  2- how do I get my ethernet controller to be reinstalled on my laptop or do I even need to since I now can get online? My laptop does not have an opening for a disk. thanks for any help you can give me Mike.

Hello Christine

I think first of all you need to understand what the hardware is and what it does.  When you refer to a modem that is the device that converts the signal from your internet provider which is either through a telephone line (ADSL) or through a broadband provider (cable) which then converts it to a network (ethernet) connection.  This is what you would plug in to using a wired connection.  A Router is simply a device that distributes the internet connection.. most wireless routers will have 4 ethernet connections on the back which you can plug up to 4 computers in via a wired connection. This wireless router is also 'wireless' meaning the internet signal is being sent through the air and so long as you have the SSID and password, the SSID being the wireless network name you actually connect to, then that will get you 'online'

So that being said, on your computer you have two network devices, an ethernet connection and a wireless network connection.  If the comcast dude had you remove the driver, as well as delete the driver (which was the mistake) then yes, you will need to download the device driver again, from the company supplier and for  you to know this you should be able to refresh your device manager and see the one device that will not be recognized and will either be in the network group or in 'unrecognized devices' group. If it is in the network group then at least your computer recognizes it is a network device, however if it is in the  unrecognized group then you are going to for sure need to know exactly the driver in need.  

The easiest method is to visit your computer manufaturer's website and go to the support/drivers page and enter your make/model number at which point it will list all of the devices.. Since I believe you are connecting using the ethernet connection (wired) then you are going to be needing the wireless networking driver.  Note that it won't hurt if you also download/install the wired ethernet connection as well.  

YOu say it is a laptop so the easiest way to get the information you need is to flip it over and on the bottom of it will be the manufactures name, model number including serial number, which can also help in some cases such as HP where you can enter the serial number and it will know exactly the device you are using.. Since there will be Windows 7 32bit windows 7 64bit, windows 8 and windows 8.l both 32 and 64 bit. The easy way to know if you have 32 bit or 64 bit is to look at your explorer menu and from drive c: look for program files folder.. if you see both "program files" and "program files (x86) then you know you have 64 bit, whereas if you only see program files then that is 32bit.

Once you have installed the drivers you will find in your device manager, no more 'unknown devices' or ones with the yellow exclamation point.

Now to answer your questions.. do you really need a router.. if you want to be wireless then yes, but before you go out and buy a router, if you are ok with living with your laptop being plugged in at home then no you don't need one. But you will need to have the device working so that when you go out with your laptop to connect to a wireless hotspot you will need the wireless networking to be functional.

Your second question is about the ethernet controller but I believe that is already working since you are plugged in to your comcast modem and once you unplugged the modem and 'rebooted' it  you said you got the internet back so I believe the device driver you need is for your wireless networking adapter.

Most new computers don't have cd/dvd drives and this is because you will simply download it from the internet and then install it that way.. if you can't get online on that device then you will need a usb flash drive and a computer connected to the internet so that you can go and download the driver and save it to the usb drive which you can then plug in to the computer not working and install the necessary drivers.

I hope this helps


Mike Dacre
follow me on twitter @tpsconsulting

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Mike Dacre


As I have been volunteering in the 'windows' category since the inception of AllExperts, which has now moved to numerous windows categories. I will therefore be happy to answer any Windows 7,8 and 10 based question. What can't I answer? Not much, as this is the main reason I volunteered here, because I am hopeful the questions I can not answer will allow me to investigate the problem so that I can answer it. The TIPS and SOFTWARE support through my website at can also be of some help.


I have owned my own computer consulting business for the past 17 years and since the very beginning I have volunteered with AllExperts in the hopes I would be able to learn from others mistakes and problems. The goal for me is to be able to research any problem I don't initially have the answer to, in the hopes I will be able to further benefit for my own clients when they come across a similar problem.

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I grew up with computers, from the first Apple IIC, back when Bill Gates was a student himself! For the past 17 years I have been providing technical services from building computers to constructing complete control rooms. Working with CTV I have helped produce the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Later, designing and construction of "instant replay control rooms' for the Big Screens found in Stadiums and Coliseums.

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