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I'm having to re-install Windows 7 onto a user's PC. Just finished with the basics, Windows 7 is re-installed. However, it can't see our network, the Internet, or anything. Running the troubleshooter, it says, "Plug an Ethernet cable into this computer". Huh? The Ethernet cable is already plugged in, the light is lit, everything hardware is fine. Why does Windows 7 now thing there's no Ethernet cable installed, when very clearly there is?

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is the cable tested and working on another machine? are the ethernet drivers correctly installed? –  Lorenzo Von Matterhorn Apr 11 '13 at 18:05
    
The cable was working on that machine, before I reinstalled Windows. –  Rod Apr 11 '13 at 18:37

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you have a few thing to investigate:

  • maybe your network card is not recognize at all, to check that you can go to : Control Panel\Network and Internet\Network and Sharing Center and at the let click on change adapter settings. check what kind of network card do you see.
  • maybe you cable is simply broken, try antoher one.
  • maybe the device at the other side of you cable is not correctly working
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I think you maybe onto something here. This is a Dell PC, so there's some device drivers in partitions on it. I'm not sure how to get to those partitions, though. –  Rod Apr 11 '13 at 18:38
    
I finally found the driver in a folder called Drivers (obvious, but it took me a while to realize it was there). –  Rod Apr 11 '13 at 20:03
    
did you succeed ? to install driver and see you card ? –  bobzer Apr 18 '13 at 22:59
    
Yes, it did then see the card all right and I was able to go on and set up the user. –  Rod Apr 20 '13 at 1:12

To answer your question; the troubleshooter is only a guide. It is trying to take you step by step through what to check. It doesn't have any way to know if there is a cable plugged in, only that there is no connection. Most troubleshooters rely on your input to prompt you on the next step.

You can look in the device manager to see if there is a yellow ! or ? on the NIC. Then I would suggest downloading the NIC drivers from Dell on another computer and transfer them to this PC with a USB drive.

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Right. "Plug an Ethernet cable into this computer" isn't saying that it hasn't detected one, it's just taking you through a step-by-step procedure to check out the interface. The first step is to make sure a cable's connected. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 11 '13 at 19:40

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