How to Remove Hidden/Ghost Network Adapters in Windows? ,

You may encounter problems when changing motherboards or network cards, cold migration of virtual machines between P2V or hypervisors, or configuring multiple VLANs on the same NIC in Windows. hidden (ghost) network adapter, In this case, you cannot set the previously assigned static IP address for the new network adapter with the error The IP address you have entered for this network adapter is already assigned to another adapter,

Windows automatically hides devices that are present in the Windows configuration but are not physically connected to the computer. If you physically disconnect a previously installed network card a hidden network adapter remains in Windows (it can be either a physical NIC or a virtual network adapter). The pre-installed network card gets hidden and you can’t see it in Device Manager.

IP address is already assigned to another network adapter

The main problem with hidden network adapters is that you cannot assign the IP address of your old network adapter to a new network interface. When you try to assign the old IP address, the following error appears:

Microsoft TCP/IP
The IP address <IP address> you have entered for this network adapter is already assigned to another adapter (Intel Gigabit Network Connection) which is no longer present on the computer. If the same address is assigned to both adapters and they both become active, only one of them will use this address. This may result in incorrect system configuration.
Do you want to fix the problem by entering a different IP address for this adapter in the list of IP addresses in the Advanced dialog box?

The IP address you entered for this network adapter is already assigned to another adapter

If you try to set the IP address of the network adapter using PowerShell, an error will appear:

New-NetIPAddress –IPAddress -DefaultGateway -PrefixLength 24 -InterfaceIndex 22

New-NetIPAddress : The object already exists.
Windows System Error 5010,New-NetIPAddress

I often come across this issue with the VMXNet3 virtual network adapter in VMware virtual machines. A new virtual NIC card is identified as a new device (as opposed to vNIC type E1000). If you have removed a network card (vNIC) on a VMWare virtual machine and added a new one, you will not be able to set your old IP address assigned to the removed network interface.

Also, the problem of hidden network adapters appears after migrating a physical server to VM (Physical-to-Virtual – P2V), for example, using vmware converter, After migration, the disabled NICs remain in Windows and you cannot assign the old IP address settings to the new VNICs.

Before assigning an old IP address to a new network adapter, you must remove the configuration of the disconnected NIC.

Show hidden (non-existent) network adapters in Windows Device Manager

To show hidden (physically disconnected) network adapters in Windows, open the Device Manager console in a special mode. To do this on Windows 7 (and earlier versions):

  1. Open command prompt as administrator;
  2. Run command: set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
  3. Start Device Manager Console: devmgmt.msc

In the top menu, click View -> show hidden tools,


expand the network adapter section. Hidden network cards should appear in the list (they have yellow icons). Select the network controller you want to remove, right-click it -> uninstall device, You can remove the network adapter driver by checking Remove driver software for this device alternative.

Ghost (hidden) network adapter on Windows

How to remove hidden/non-current network adapters with PowerShell and CMD?

You can list unused/hidden network adapters in Windows using PowerShell:

Get-PnpDevice -class net | ? Status -eq Unknown | Select FriendlyName,InstanceId

Then you can remove such network adapter by its InstanceId (copy its value from previous command result):

$InstanceId = “PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_10D3&SUBSYS_07D015AD&REV_00\000C29FFFF66A80700”
$RemoveKey = "HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Enum\$InstanceId"
Get-Item $RemoveKey | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Property | %{ Remove-ItemProperty -Path $RemoveKey -Name $_ -Verbose}

PowerShell: Get-PnpDevice show hidden NICs

You can remove all hidden (non-existent) network adapters using a PowerShell script:

$Devs = Get-PnpDevice -class net | ? Status -eq Unknown | Select FriendlyName,InstanceId
ForEach ($Dev in $Devs) {
$RemoveKey = "HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Enum\$($Dev.InstanceId)"
Get-Item $RemoveKey | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Property | %{ Remove-ItemProperty -Path $RemoveKey -Name $_ -Verbose }}

You can use the DevCon.exe (Device Console) tool to remove devices in Windows. This tool is part of the Windows Driver Kit (WDK).

List all network adapters:

devcon findall =net

Copy the device instance ID of the network adapter you want to remove and run the command:

devcon -r remove '@PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_10D3&SUBSYS_07D015AD&REV_00\000C29FFFF66A80700'

Please note that you need to specify , symbol before the device ID.

devcon: remove ghost network adapter on windows

On Windows 10/11 and Windows Server 2022/2019/2016, you can use pnputils built-in command instead of devcon.exe.

List network adapters:

pnputil /enum-devices /class net

pnputil:enum-devices class network

To remove a device by its InstanceID:

pnputil /remove-device "PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_10D3&SUBSYS_07D015AD&REV_00\000C29FFFF66A80700"

pnputil remove ghost network adapter on Windows 11

open device manager, select action , scan for hardware changes from the menu and check that hidden network adapters have been removed.

Windows Device Manager: Scan for hardware changes

Remove network adapter settings from registry

If you still cannot assign the old IP address to the new adapter after deleting the ghost NIC in Device Manager, delete the old NIC’s IP configuration from the registry.

The IP settings of your network interface are located under the registry key HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\Interfaces,

This registry key contains some {Interface GUID} keys. Check them one by one until you find the interface ip address The value contains the IP address assigned to the old network interface.

remove old non existent network adapter from registry

Remember the name of the registry key (this is the identifier of the network adapter). Remove keys:

  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\Adapters\{your_NIC_ID}
  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\{your_NIC_ID}
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Network{your_NIC_ID}

Restart your computer and try to assign the old static IP address to a new network adapter.

Resetting network settings is also recommended. In Windows 10 and 11, you can do this in Settings -> Network & Internet -> network reset,

windows 10 reset network

If you encounter problems after installing an additional network card on your computer, make sure that the built-in LAN interface is disabled in the BIOS/UEFI settings (the item is usually called) GBT NIC onboard Or onboard lan,

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