How to fix generic network failure?


When I first started working with networks, I was new to all this stuff. My programming skills were enough to get me past the big concepts like IP addresses and subnets but I couldn’t do anything practical (not that most of us can). It wasn’t until years later that I realized the potential issues with some common setups.

If you think your network is broken, chances are it isn’t. While it may be a little irritating when you’re trying to patch into your router from work or school, there’s usually a reason why you can’t access your network right now.

The most common problem results from simple DHCP failure due to ISP changes or other innocent issues not related to your computer at all. In order for a device to access a network, it usually has to acquire an IP address from the router via DHCP. If your computer can’t get that far, then there’s no sense in trying any of the following solutions.

How to fix it in macOS?

In this case, you’ll probably want to re-release your DHCP lease on startup by going into System Preferences –> Network –> Advanced –> TCP/IP and clicking Renew DHCP Lease under “Configure IPv4”.  Basically, just uncheck the box for “obtain an IP address automatically” and let your ISP handle it.

Another common problem is forgetting to change your DNS servers after changing what they should be (see below), but this one is more easily fixed by simply updating your hosts file. It’s best to do this through Terminal- you can open up a Terminal window by going to Utilities in Finder and double-clicking “Terminal” (or typing in: terminal). Then, type the following:

sudo nano /private/etc/hosts

Enter in your password when prompted (the text won’t show; it’s just there for security), and then add any lines that don’t already exist. You should be able to figure out what they should look like from the other entries in the file, but here are some examples: localhost

If changing DNS servers didn’t work, perhaps changing them back won’t either! Don’t worry – your computer is smart enough not to listen when it’s told not to listen.

This isn’t exactly specific to Network Failure, but if you’ve recently changed DNS servers for any reason and now your computer can’t connect to the Internet at all, changing them back is probably a good thing to try. Type this command into the terminal after typing “sudo” (so that you have sudo in front of it) and hit enter:

sudo networksetup -setdnsservers Wi-Fi Empty

Enter your password when prompted, and then wait about 15 seconds. Then type:

sudo networksetup -setdnsservers Wi-Fi <your previous DNS servers>

where <your previous DNS servers> are whatever you had previously before attempting any changes. That should do the trick.

If that doesn’t work, reboot your computer and try again. If it still doesn’t work, follow this guide (written using Mac instructions, but you can easily switch out “Wi-Fi” for whatever wireless network interface you’re using.)

How to fix generic network failure in Windows 7/8.1/10/11?

Many times in Windows 7 and 8.1, you might come across a “generic network failure error”. This happens when Windows is having difficulty identifying your network’s hardware model name. Usually, this generic error will only make the internet unavailable for other users on your network, but it can confuse inexperienced computer technicians into thinking that all your computers are not working properly. When I encounter such an issue while doing service and support at my local library (and fix it), everyone asks me how I did it. Here’s what you need to do:

Right-click My Computer and click Properties. Click System. Click Hardware tab. More about each of these steps follow.

Network Connection tab. Under This connection uses the following items, click Device Type. The answer to what you should see is a list of hardware models. If there are no items listed under Device Type, you will need to continue with the next step.

here it says that my internet connection is “adaptor Broadcom 570x Gigabit Integrated Controller” or something similar. I’m pretty sure the name of your network connection card will be different from mine, but finding out what yours is called should be easy enough for any computer technician worth his salt.

Now here’s where it gets tricky: on some motherboards or computers, you can’t select this device by clicking on it once and pressing Enter as you could in older versions of Windows because Microsoft decided to remove that option. If you can’t click on the device and press Enter, look for a small box next to the network card’s name and double-click on it. Once you do this, another window will pop up asking what type of resource it is; select Network Adapter from the drop-down menu and then click OK. You might need to repeat this process two or three times until you finally see the following screen:

and now we’re getting somewhere! Right-click on Standard TCP/IP Port (the only one listed) and hit Properties…

but there are some other things I would check first if I were you…

in Windows 7 & 8, click Start, type Command Prompt into the search box, and hit enter

In XP, click Start, select Run… from the menu that pops up, and type CMD into the text field. Click OK.

In Vista or Windows 7 & 8, right-click on Command Prompt from the search results that popped up earlier and choose “Run as Administrator”

If you have a wireless connection, I would disconnect your modem/router from power for 10 seconds so it resets itself. It might also be a good idea to plug all USB devices (wireless adapters, external hard drives, etc.) into a different computer so they don’t interfere with our next troubleshooting step.

and just keep going through those steps until something works! Good luck!

Use Google DNS

Another important fix to solve this problem is to use Google DNS instead of your ISP’s default DNS servers.

Go to Control Panel -> Network and Internet -> Network and Sharing Center -> Click on WiFi/Ethernet under connections-> Select Properties -> Double-click on Internet Protocol Version 4

*I need to mention that this fix might not work for the people who are actually seeing this error message. But I found out that it solved my generic network failure issue, so I decided to include it anyway*.

google-dns Use the following DNS server addresses:      Preferred –      Alternate –

Click OK and close all other windows (if applicable).

If all the above doesn’t work then you will need to get one of our technicians as we excel at network setup service in your area.

Related: How to fix DHCP Lookup Failed Error On Chromebook and Windows?

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...