"Connected With Limited Access" Errors in Windows

Microsoft Windows 8
Microsoft Windows 8. Mario Tama / Getty Images

When setting up or using a Windows PC on a computer network, an error message indicating the PC is connected with limited access to the network may appear for any of several reasons as described below.

Windows Vista

Windows Vista users sometimes saw the following error message appear next to the entry for their active connection in the "Connect to a network" dialog box:

"Connected with Limited Access"

The error resulted in a user losing the ability to reach the Internet, although it was still possible to reach file shares on other resources locally. Microsoft confirmed a bug existed in the original Vista operating system that sporadically caused this error whenever the PC was connected to the local network in a bridge configuration. That bridged connection could be a wired connection to another PC, but users usually encountered this error from a Wi-Fi wireless connection to a home broadband router.

Microsoft fixed this bug in the Service Pack 1 (SP1) Vista release. For more, see: Message when a device on a Windows Vista-based computer uses a network bridge to access the network: "Connected with limited access"

Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10

Starting in Windows 8, this error message can appear on the Windows Network screen after attempting to connect to a local network via Wi-Fi:

The connection is limited

It can be caused sporadically by technical glitches either with the Wi-Fi setup on the local device (more likely) or by issues with a local router (less likely but possible, particularly if more than one device experiences the same error at the same time). Users can follow several different procedures to recover their system back to a normal working state:

  1.  Disconnect the Wi-Fi connection on the Windows system and re-connect
  2.  Disable and then re-enable the network adapter for the local Wi-Fi connection
  3.  Reset the TCP/IP services on the Windows device using 'netsh' commands such as 'netsh int ip reset' (suitable for advanced users who can perform this operation faster than a reboot).
  4.  Reboot the Windows system
  5.  Restart the local router

These workaround procedures do not fix the underlying technical problems; i.e., do not prevent the same issue from occurring again later. Updating the network device driver to a newer version if one is available can be a permanent remedy for this problem if a driver issue is the cause.

A similar but more specific message may also appear:

This connection has limited or no connectivity. No Internet access.

Both this and the other error above were sometimes triggered when the user updated their computer from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. Disabling and re-enabling the Windows network adapter recovers the system from this error.

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