Every once in a while, usually after a normal monthly Windows 10 security update, I will get a strange error in my PC's network settings. The error makes it impossible to connect to the internet and when I investigate, I see this message:
Windows Sockets registry entries required for network connectivity are missing.
The Windows Sockets (Winsocks) registry entries are not really missing, of course. It would be more accurate to say they are corrupted or incongruent with what the system expects. As you can imagine, with six active computers in my household that have all had the problem in the last few months, I have gained some significant experience fixing this particularly vexing problem.
Here are the steps you should take to fix the missing Windows Sockets registry entries error and get back on the internet.
The first thing you should do is the one step many people forego: run the built-in Windows 10 network diagnostic troubleshooter. Right-click the network connection icon in your System Tray and then click the Troubleshoot Problems entry. After the troubleshooter runs, one of two things will happen.
If you are fortunate, it will find and fix the problem and you can go on about your business. If it can't fix the Winsocks problem, you are likely to see a report similar to the one shown in Figure A.
It is possible that the network diagnostic app will then ask if you want to Try These Fixes As Administrator? Yes, you should do that as well. And if that doesn't fix the problem, you'll get a result similar to Figure B, which is not something you want to see because it means you have more work to do.
This next step is about as clichéd as clichéd can get when it comes to troubleshooting digital devices, but it has to be done and sometimes it actually works: Reboot everything. That's right. Turn off the router, the modem if you have one, and the computer and then restart them in the proper order: modem, then router, then PC.
In some cases, the modem or router may be the piece of hardware trying to use a corrupted network protocol, and rebooting them is the simplest way to reset the settings. If this works, count your lucky stars and move on. Otherwise, we have to turn to more technical fixes.
SEE: Power checklist: Troubleshooting hard drive failures (Tech Pro Research)
By the way, when is the last time you updated the firmware on your router? Years? Never? You should take a few minutes to check on that for security purposes, if nothing else. It may even help with your Windows Sockets problem.
Command Prompt 1
If the missing Windows Sockets registry entries problem still exists at this point, we have to attack the problem with a more technical solution. Right-click the Start Menu button and navigate to the Command Prompt (Admin) entry and click it. You may be asked for your password to continue. At the prompt (Figure C) type this series of entries, pressing the Enter key after each one, of course:
netsh winsock reset netsh int ip reset ipconfig /release ipconfig /renew ipconfig /flushdns
Reboot your computer and cross your fingers for success.
Command Prompt 2
If the error still persists after a reboot, there is one command left to try. Open the admin version of the Command Prompt as before and type:
This will delete the network configuration settings for all your network devices and reset them when your reboot your PC (Figure D).
Manual registry edit
If you are still getting the error about missing Windows Socket registry entries at this point, I feel your pain. This last step involves editing the Windows Registry, which is an advanced technique and should be conducted with great caution. Editing the wrong registry key in the wrong way could render your PC unusable—this is your only warning.
To edit the Windows Registry, press the Windows key + R to open the Run box. (You can also right-click the Start Menu and click the Run entry.) Type regedit into the box and press Enter. Navigate to these keys:
You are going to delete each one, but before you do, I would suggest you save the entries in a safe spot just in case something goes horribly wrong (Figure E). Right-click each key and you will be given several choices including one to export the entry for safekeeping and another to delete it. Once the keys are deleted, reboot your PC.
Update adapter driver
As I was researching for this article, some people suggested updating the drivers for your network adapter (Figure F). In the numerous times I have had to fix this annoying Windows Sockets issue, I have never had to do this to achieve a successful fix, but if the problem persists after trying everything else, you might as well give it a shot.
That's all the troubleshooting I can muster for the missing Windows Sockets registry entries error. Somewhere along the way these steps have been able to fix the error and I have been able to get on with my internet life. I hope they work for you too. Let us know if you have other troubleshooting tips for this problem that I haven't mentioned.
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Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.