What Does It Mean When It Says "Internal Unplugged Webcam"?

by Andy Walton

An “Internal Unplugged Webcam” message from your computer means that the system can no longer detect its built-in webcam. Unplugged webcam issues can either be due to a physical disconnection within the computer itself, or a software issue that is preventing the operating system from recognizing the presence of the camera. Figuring out whether or not the webcam has actually become disconnected is usually the first step toward troubleshooting such an issue.

Internal Webcam Connections

Unlike an external standalone unit, an internal webcam is integrated into your computer or monitor. Like external webcams, many internal webcams connect to your computer using the USB standard. However, internal cameras generally use a different USB connector shape than the one used for external USB devices. Some internal USB connectors have partially exposed pins, making it easier for a jolt or heavy vibration to dislodge the connector from your computer's motherboard and unplug your webcam.

Check Device Manager

Begin your troubleshooting by opening the Device Manager: hover your cursor at the bottom-left corner of the screen, right-click the Start icon that appears and select "Device Manager" from the context menu, and then scroll down to “Imaging Devices.” If your webcam is not listed, select “Scan for Hardware Changes” from the “Action” menu. This forces the computer to rescan for its hardware components and possibly rediscover the webcam. If it is listed, right-click on the camera and select “Disable.” Right-click again and select “Enable” to restart the camera.

Reinstall Drivers

Drivers are the software programs that allow hardware components such as webcams to interact with your computer system. Corrupt or accidentally deleted drivers could cause your webcam to appear disconnected from your computer, even if the camera is physically still plugged in. Many computer manufacturers provide driver discs that you can use to reinstall your drivers, if necessary. Alternatively, check your computer vendor's website, as it may have more recent webcam drivers that you can install.

Physical Disconnection

If scanning in Device Manager or reinstalling drivers does not fix the issue, the internal webcam may indeed have become physically disconnected from your computer's motherboard. If this is the case, contact your computer vendor's support team or a hardware repair center. Most internal webcams are part of a computer's display assembly, making them very difficult to work on at home, and you may cause serious damage to your computer if you attempt to open up its display panel.

About the Author

Andy Walton has been a technology writer since 2009, specializing in networking and mobile communications. He was previously an IT technician and product manager. Walton is based in Leicester, England, and holds a bachelor's degree in information systems from the University of Leeds.

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