If your computer cannot detect network files, the Network Connections folder will be empty. This problem has been happening for a long time, Windows users before Windows 11 have also reported that the folder is empty and the network adapter is missing.
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The Windows Network Connections folder is a central location where you can manage all network connections on your computer. You can use it to view and change the network adapters, protocols, and services installed on your computer.
To access the Network Connections folder in Windows, follow these steps
- Open the Control Panel by clicking on the Start menu and selecting Control Panel.
- Click Network and Internet.
- Click Network and Sharing Center.
- On the left side of the window, click Change Adapter Settings.
Alternatively, you can access the Network Connections folder directly by typing “ncpa.cpl” in the Run dialog box or the Search box in the Start menu.
Once you are in the Network Connections folder, you will see a list of all available network connections on your computer. You can right-click a connection to access its properties, disable or enable it, or create a new connection.
From the Network Connections folder, you can also access other network-related tools and features, such as Network Diagnostics, Network Map, and the Network and Sharing Center.
Causes of an Empty Windows Network Connections Folder
If the system cannot interact with the network adapter or the network adapter cannot communicate with the connected network, there will be no information (including files and folders) in the Network Connections folder.
There may be several reasons why your Network Connections folder is empty in Windows:
- Network adapter driver issue.
- The network service is not running.
- The network adapter is disabled.
- Windows Network Discovery is turned off.
- Malware or virus infection.
If none of these solutions work, you may need to seek additional support or technical assistance to diagnose and resolve the issue.
How to Fix an Empty Windows Network Connections Folder
1. Fix the network adapter driver
If the drivers for your network adapter are missing, out of date, or corrupted, the network connections folder may appear empty. You can try updating or reinstalling the network adapter driver to see if this resolves the issue.
Here are the steps to fix the network adapter driver in Windows:
- Open the “Device Manager” by pressing the keys (WIN + X) on the keyboard and selecting Device Manager from the menu that appears.
- Locate the network adapter that you want to repair. You can search for it under the Network Adapters category.
- Right-click on the network adapter and select Update driver.
- Windows will search for available drivers online and update drivers if found. If there are no drivers available online, then you need to find the latest driver for your network adapter and install it manually.
- If you have the latest drivers for your network adapter, click on Browse my computer for driver software and navigate to the location of the driver file you have downloaded.
- Select the right driver for your network adapter and click Next to begin the installation.
- After the installation is complete, restart your computer to apply the changes.
If the problem with your network adapter cannot be resolved in this way, then you may need to seek further technical assistance or contact your hardware manufacturer.
2. Fix Network services that are not running
Network services required for network connections may not run, causing the folder to appear empty. You can check the status of network-related services such as “Network Connections”, “Network Location Awareness”, and “Plug and Play” services in Windows Service Manager. Make sure all those services are running.
Windows Service Manager you can open by:
- Press the keys (WIN + R) on the keyboard to open the Run dialog box.
- Type “services.msc” (without quotes) in the Run dialog box and press the Enter key.
- A Service Manager window will open, displaying a list of all services installed on your computer.
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3. Enable Disabled network adapters
If the network adapter is disabled, the Network Connections folder will not appear. You can enable the adapter through the “Device Manager“. Right-click on the disabled network adapter, then select “Enable device”.
4. Turn on Windows Network Discovery
Windows Network Discovery is a feature that allows your computer to detect and connect with other devices on your network. If this feature is turned off, your computer will not be able to detect or connect with other devices on your network. Here are the steps to turn on Windows Network Discovery in Windows:
- Open the “Settings” of Windows 11 by pressing the keys (WIN + I) on the keyboard.
- Then navigate to “Network and Internet > Advanced network settings > Advanced sharing settings”.
- In the Public and Private sections, make sure that the “Network discovery” option is turned on.
Once you turn on Windows Network Discovery, your computer will now be able to detect and connect with other devices on your network. If the problem persists, make sure that the computer and other devices on your network are connected to the same network and don't have connection problems. You can also try to restart your router to fix network problems.
5. Remove malware or viruses
Malware or virus infections can disrupt network connections and cause folders to appear empty. You should run a full system scan with antivirus software to check for any infections.