Solved: Dell Wi-fi 6 AX201 Device Cannot Start

Solved: Dell Wi-fi 6 AX201 Device Cannot Start

I recently got a [easyazon_link keywords=”Dell Inspiron 7490″ locale=”US” tag=”bobmckay-20″]Dell Inspiron 7490[/easyazon_link] at home and was so impressed with it, when I needed a new one for work, I asked for the same model (though a lower spec).

When it arrived, everything was as expected except for one thing: there were no wifi networks visible.  When I dug in, it became apparent this is because there were no functioning network adapters at all!

A quick dig in to the Device Manager of Windows 10 found the the network adapter installed but with an exclamation mark saying that the “Device cannot start“.

I did a clean install of Windows and all seemed well, I downloaded and installed the wireless network drivers from the Dell Support website, did a BIOS update, rebooted and again everything seemed fine.  I then install the Dell SupportAssist software to pick up any further driver updates “from the horse’s mouth” so to speak, at which point there were a few including one for the wireless.  I installed, rebooted and hey presto – the wifi problem had returned.

I then did another clean install and the problem was there from the outset – the wifi wouldn’t work but I remember something I’d seen on a forum somewhere:

Unplug the power cable and hold down the power button on your laptop until it does a hard shutdown.  On older laptops you could remove the battery but this is the closest you’ll get to pulling the power from the wifi adapter card on modern laptops with sealed cases.

Upon reboot sure enough, the wifi adapter was back!

So in summary I recommend the following steps:

  1. Clean install of Windows
  2. BIOS update
  3. Install the drivers
  4. Do NOT install Dell Support Assist
  5. If you have the Wifi card problem, do a hard reboot or remove power and battery (if you can).
Bob McKay

About Bob McKay

Bob is a Founder of Seguro Ltd, a full time father and husband, part-time tinkerer-with-wires, coder, Muay Thai practitioner, builder and cook. Big fan of equality, tolerance and co-existence.

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8 comments on «Solved: Dell Wi-fi 6 AX201 Device Cannot Start»

  1. Gerald Fishel says:

    I just had the same issue with a Dell Precision 5540. I had rebooted a couple times already to no avail, but the trick of unplugging the power and doing a hard shutdown did the trick, without having to reinstall Windows or mess with the BIOS or drivers.


  2. Cary says:

    Thank you, this worked for a problem I was having with a Latitude 7410

  3. Robert Walker says:

    Thanks, doing the hard reboot worked for my AX201 on my Maingear Vector.

    1. Alex says:

      Hi Robert, thanks. I sent in my Acer Swift 13 to fix exactly this problem. Four weeks after I got it back the same problem occurs. A hard reset helps temporarily. However, the whole issue is shameful.

      1. Bob McKay says:

        Hi Alex,
        Yep I know – it appears to be a problem with the chipset and/or drivers rather the laptop manufacturer but that doesn’t help you as the customer!

  4. Radhakrishnan Viswanathan says:

    Thanks. Doing the hard reboot did the trick.

  5. Jerupitus says:

    The hard reset worked for me, and I don’t even have a Dell! HP Spectre x360 ax201 wifi card was bugging out, switching between working properly and cannot start, error code 10. I tried 3 different drivers, uninstalling the device, deleting old drivers and manually reinstalling the newest ones, the original OEM one, all to no avail. Sure enough, this did the trick. Thank you very much!

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hey Jerupitus, that’s great – glad it works on HPs too!

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