How to Enable Wireless Card in Safe Mode With Networking

by April L'Orange ; Updated September 28, 2017

Items you will need

  • Computer running Windows XP or Windows Vista

  • Wireless card

Safe Mode with Networking allows you to start your computer in a limited way for troubleshooting purposes while still connecting to your local network or the Internet. In Safe Mode with Networking, your wireless card has a default behavior: It's either off or on. You may manually attempt to enable a wireless card that is not on, but success is not guaranteed.

Windows XP

Only Windows XP and Windows Vista give you the option for Safe Mode with Networking. Under Windows XP, Safe Mode with Networking will not run a wireless network card. Per Microsoft, this behavior is by design. Microsoft suggests that you "attach or use a standard-wired network adapter," instead.

As an alternative, you may try to use Safe Mode to configure Windows XP to start in a "clean boot" state. See Microsoft Support article 310353 in Resources below. When you clean boot, you may be able to enable your wireless card.

When you clean boot, your wireless card may be enabled automatically. If it isn't, try manually enabling it by clicking on "Start" and right-clicking on "My Computer." Click "Properties." Click the "Hardware" tab. Click the "Device Manager" button.

In Device Manager, your wireless card should be displayed under "Network Adapters." Right-click on it and a context menu will pop up. If you have an "Enable" option, click on it.

Windows Vista

In Windows Vista, Safe Mode with Networking should enable your wireless card by default. If your wireless card is not enabled, you may try to enable it manually.

Click on "Start" and right-click on "My Computer." Click "Properties." On the left-hand side of the window, click the "Device Manager" link.

In Device Manager, your wireless card should be displayed under "Network Adapters." Right-click on it and a context menu will pop up. If you have an "Enable" option, click on it.

About the Author

April L'Orange is a rogue computer geek and guerilla English major. She is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. When she is not fixing computers, she is a part-time staff writer and editor for Fool's Moon Entertainment, Inc. L'Orange holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Northern Arizona University.