What is a Default Gateway?

Working as a system administrator, I often get asked about computer-related questions. My friends are using me as their tech-guy when they need help. I just hung up from a phone call from a friend of mine that had a problem with his computer. The default gateway was not available. Here’s why and what you can do about it.

The problem “Default gateway is not available” is usually caused by the network adapter’s drivers that are out of date or because of bad network configuration. To solve this issue, one can try reinstalling their drivers or by uninstalling their antivirus software. There are also other solutions that we cover (and guide you through) in this article.

In this article, I will go over the most common solutions and take you to step by step on the way, so that anyone can do it, even without previous computer experience. However, because of the network geek that I am, I believe it’s good to understand what a default gateway is to understand why it’s such important to your computer. If you are one of the 99% that prefer solutions instead of explanations, you can click here to get there immediately.

What is a Default Gateway?

A default gateway is most of the time, the router in your home. This router has an IP address and this address is the default gateway address for the computers, phones and anything else in your house that needs an internet connection. This is because the default gateway is the gateway to the internet.

You see, when a computer needs to reach another network or go to a web server on the internet (for example if a user goes to a webpage), it doesn’t know where to go first, because it’s outside of the local network. When this happens, the computer instead goes to the default gateway, which can then route the packages out from the network to the internet.

That is why it’s almost always the router that is the default gateway. Since the router is responsible for the traffic coming in and out of the local network, it has communication with the outside world. If the default gateway would be another computer, it would be a standstill. All other devices in the network would send its packages and requests to that computer, which wouldn’t know what to do with it.

What this also means, is that when a computer doesn’t have a default gateway, or can’t reach it, the computer can’t reach the internet. That is why you might see something like “Limited Network” because the network is limited to the local network only, and not the outside world.

Wrong Gateway

Another Type of Gateway #funny

What is My Default Gateway?

As I said before, the router is in 98% of the case, the default gateway in your home, and most businesses as well. So, if you know what IP address your router has, that is your default gateway. If you do not know what IP it has, you can easily google it and find the answer. Searching for something like “Asus router default IP” would result in getting the address. To save you some time, I have already googled for you for some of the biggest brands:

  • ASUS Router: 192.168.1.1
  • D-Link Router: 192.168.0.1
  • TP-Link Router: 192.168.0.1 and 192.168.1.1
  • Linksys Router: 192.168.1.1
  • Netgear Router: 192.168.0.1 and 192.168.1.1

You can also check on the back of your router, as it is also mentioned there what IP address it has. This is something you might need to do if you have a no-name router from your ISP. If it’s not on the back, I’ll suggest that you contact your ISP to ask what the IP address of the router is.

If your network is up and running normally, you can also check your computer settings to see what the default gateway is. To check the default gateway on a Windows-machine, you can do this:

  1. Open the start menu and search for CMD
  2. Open Command Prompt
  3. Type ipconfig and hit enter

Don’t be afraid of all the scary things that come up. There are things here that make sense, I promise you. If you take a look at what it says, you should have one line saying, “Default Gateway” and then an IP address next to it. As you can see in the image, my default gateway is 192.168.1.1 which is the same address as my router connected to the internet has.

What You Should Not Do to Solve This Problem

I have had this problem myself and as with any problem, Google is the best solution. However, while searching for solutions for this problem, I found that most sites wanted me to download some sort of driver software that would scan my computer for errors and then download them for me. I have a few problems with this solution:

  • This is only working if your network goes up and down. You wouldn’t be able to download a software and then let it download drivers if you don’t have an internet connection
  • The software is 99.9999% guaranteed to cost money to solve the solution. Some say that it is free, but it is mostly the scan that is free, the actual fix is not
  • A software like this is what I call bloatware. Stuff on your computer that you don’t want. These types of software are trying to scare you with big numbers saying that your computer could crash if you don’t update “those 9 drivers” or give big popups while doing other stuff telling you to purchase a license to save your work.

So, whatever you do, do not download any type of software to solve a problem with drivers or with your computer. Even downloading or purchasing an anti-virus today is not necessary. This is something that I explain more about in this post.

Default Gateway is not Available – The Most Common Solutions

Searching on Google for a solution to this problem is resulting in tons of solutions. To not be worse than others, I have listed my recommended solutions to this problem as well. However, before doing anything, I highly recommend that you do basic troubleshooting first, like rebooting the router and the computer to see if that helps. Remember, I work with IT-Support and at least 50% of the problems can be solved by a reboot. The problem is that users don’t want to reboot and call us for another solution instead 🙂

Solution 1: Reinstall Your Network Adapter Driver

If you only experience this problem on one device in your home, it is something with that device. If you have a computer with Windows on, I highly recommend that you reinstall your network adapter drivers. If they become corrupt, they can have trouble finding the default gateway. To do this, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Open the start menu and search for Device Manager
  2. Open Device Manager
  3. Find Network adapters and expand that category
  4. Right-click on your network adapter and click on Uninstall Device. They can be named a bit differently but mine is named Intel(R) Ethernet Connection I1218-V.
  5. When you click on Uninstall Device, the computer will uninstall the drivers for your network adapter, which means that the adapter cannot function properly. However, to reinstall it:
  6. Restart the computer. During bootup, Windows will take note that a driver is missing and install it.

Windows has many general drivers’ built-in which means that even without an internet connection, it can still install drivers. Sure, it can’t go to the internet and download the latest drivers, but at least there are some.

Solution 2: Uninstall Your Antivirus Software

It’s funny, but it is getting more common every day. That is that your anti-virus is the cause of the problem. Anti-viruses are often blocking more than they should be protective, which can cause trouble. I highly suggest that you do not purchase or install any anti-virus at all but if you have, or if it came with the computer, which is extremely annoying, you should uninstall it.

Especially if it’s McAfee Antivirus. This antivirus is known to cause trouble with your drivers so if the above solution didn’t help, uninstalling McAfee Antivirus, or any anti-virus for that matter can help.

And don’t worry, the reason why an antivirus isn’t necessary is that Windows 8 and Windows 10 has one that is built into the operating system so you will be protected anyway.

To uninstall your antivirus software, follow these instructions:

  1. Open the start menu and search for Control Panel
  2. Click on Uninstall a Program OR Programs and Features (this will depend on the view you have in control panel)
  3. Find your antivirus software and then click on Uninstall
  4. It will most likely protest and ask you to not uninstall it, but stay committed and go through the whole uninstallation-process
  5. Restart the computer after the program has been uninstalled

When the computer boots up again, you will note if it worked or not by testing your internet connection. Have the internet? Congratulations. Still missing out? Don’t worry, I got more tricks in store for you.

Solution 3: Change Drivers for the Network Adapter

If you still experience problems with the default gateway, another trick could be to change the drivers that are being used by the network adapter. This is quite simple to do, simply follow these steps below:

IMPORTANT: While this does work for some, I highly recommend that you take note of which network adapter model you have, before starting to change up. If it doesn’t work, you want to get back to the first one.

  1. Open the start menu and search for Device Manager
  2. Open Device Manager
  3. Find Network adapters and expand that category
  4. Right-click on your network adapter and click on Update Driver
  5. Choose to Browse my computer for driver software
  6. Choose Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer
  7. Uncheck Show compatible hardware. This will give you a list of manufacturers and network adapter models from those manufacturers. By default, Windows will take you to the manufacturer and model that is installed
  8. Do not change the manufacturer, keep it as it is. However, try with different models. Choose another one by clicking on it and click on next

What happens in the background is that the computer will use other drivers for your network adapter. In some cases, Windows has been choosing the wrong one and this is how you can fix it in that case.

Still no internet? Keep going!

Solution 4: Don’t Allow the Computer to Turn Off the Device

If you are on the wireless network and experiencing this problem, it might have to do with your network adapter going into sleep mode. This is something that the computer does to some parts of the computer that is not in use to save power and battery. Unfortunately, it can sometimes choose a wrong time to do so and stop letting it do it for the network adapter could be an option.

To turn off this function, do this:

  1. Open the start menu and search for Device Manager
  2. Find Network adapters and expand that category
  3. On your adapter, right-click and then click on Properties
  4. In the Properties menu, click on the tab named Power Management
  5. Uncheck the checkbox named Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power

What you are doing is to tell the computer that it cannot turn off the network adapter at any time to save power. Most likely, you will not notice any difference in battery length, as the network adapter is always on anyway (expect during problems like this) and it draws so little power compared to other components.

Solution 5: Use Command Prompt to Reset

If you still have problems with the default gateway and has done all the steps above, it is starting to look dark. There is one last thing you can try before you give up every hope and that is by resetting the TCP/IP. This is usually not something you need to do since these settings will be as default most of the time. However, if they have been changed, resetting them back to default might be a solution. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the start menu and search for CMD
  2. Right-click on Command Prompt and click on Run as administrator
  3. In the black window that appears, type: netsh int IP reset and hit enter
  4. Restart your computer

Once restarted your computer, your problem with the default gateway will hopefully be gone and you can once again browse the world wide web.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top