Cleaning up Network Connections in Windows 7

1 minute read,


Windows makes a mess of all the network adapters when installing NIC cards. Sometimes, you remove network adapters, and you’re left with something like “Local Area Network 3” that can’t be renamed back to “Local Area Network”. The problem is, Windows remembers the previous adapter (even if it is physically removed), so you can’t rename the adapter, otherwise it would conflict with previously named adapters. View & remove all previously (non-connected) NIC adapters first start by opening a command prompt:

  • Start > Run…. Then type cmd.exe. (Be sure to run the Command Prompt as Administrator)
  • In the command window, type set DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES=1
  • Next, type devmgmt.msc
  • Go to View > Show Hidden Devices

Expand the “Network adapters” entry and you should see all network adapters previously installed (but no longer present) in Windows. Select the network adapters you’re no longer using and “Uninstall” them. Usually, old or unused network adapters have icons that are “grayed out” as shown below:

After cleaning up your unused network adapters, you should now be able to rename the network adapters back to “Local Area Connection”.

Extra Tip 1: Using the “Network and Sharing Center”, click on the icon to change the icon and network name.

Extra Tip 2: Start “Local Security Policy”. Go to “Network List Manager Polices”, and you’ll be able to assign profiles to these networks.

Extra Tip 3: Click on an “Unidentified network”s icon, and click “Merge or delete network locations” to delete any previously remembered “networks”.

Hope that helps,
Brian Chavez



Dave G

You’re a little vague with your instructions to “set DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES=1”. I had to look elsewhere to determine that’s to be enetered at a Command Prompt.

Likewise, its not clear what to do with “devmgmt.msc”. After some looking about, I figured out that running “devmgmt.msc” takes you to Device Manager where one can View > Show Hidden Devices.

thanks for the info,


I’ve been trying to change a network from Public to Private the whole day (I don’t have the switch every other solution is talking about) and I was frustrated to the brink of starting to break things. Thanks for the Extra Tip 2.


Open Network and Sharing Center from control panel. Under view your active networks, click on the network icon (when in LAN connection mode). Click on merge or delete connections (past unused connections can be deleted if you are the system admin). You can even rename the connection.


My win 7 system was down for a week.
Tried about 2 dozen methods to diagnose either a hardware or sw/config failure.
Finally, your idea to show hidden devices showed what I suspected - some 15-20 wireless devices sitting there unused (!)
Uninstalled them all and POP - APs started showing up again ! Shazam.
Thank you.
PS On the way I learned Dell refuses to provide Tech support for my laptop because I bought it in Germany. That demanded I re-register it in the US before they would even deign to review my problem.

Leave a comment

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