Why can’t I connect with a 169.254.x.x IP address?

169.254.x.x IP addresses are self-assigned when your computer can't get an address any other way. It's an almost sure sign of a problem.

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My IP address was 192.168.x.xx, and somehow it was changed to 169.254.xx.xx. Because of this I can’t access the internet. Any ideas?

Your IP address wasn’t “changed” so much as it was broken.

If you end up with an IP in the 169.254.x.x address range, then something is definitely wrong.

For most folks, the IP address of your computer is assigned when you boot your machine. Using DHCP, your computer asks for an IP address, and a DHCP server responds by assigning one:
Simple DHCP assignment

If you’re behind a NAT router it’ll be the one handing out IP addresses and you’ll most commonly get an address in the 192.168.x.x range. If you’re directly connected to the internet your IP address could be almost anything. Exactly what range it’ll be in is defined by which IP address ranges have been assigned to your ISP.

169.254.x.x, however, is special.

Consider: what happens when your computer asks for an IP address and no one responds? Due to a network problem, or maybe not being on a network at all, perhaps there’s no DHCP server to hand out IP addresses.

What happens is this: your machine waits for a while and then gives up. But when it gives up it invokes Automatic Private IP Addressing, or APIPA, and makes up its own IP address. And those “made up” IP addresses are in the 169.254.x.x range.

It’s like having an unlisted phone number that’s so unlisted that even the phone company doesn’t know it.

Now, a 169.254.x.x IP address is pretty close to useless. The reason that IP addresses are assigned is so that the upstream networking equipment knows where to send or how to route packets that are destined to reach a machine at a particular address. In other words, when things work that equipment knows that your machine has this address. If your machine makes up its own address, no one else knows. As a result, there’s no way to know how to get to your machine.

It’s like having an unlisted phone number that’s so unlisted that even the phone company doesn’t know it. No one can call you.

Even connecting “out” to visit, say, a web site or other server doesn’t work because there’s no way to know where to send the response.

In fact, the only utility I’ve ever found with a 169.254.x.x address is if machines are connected directly to each other, then some protocols can be made to work machine-to-machine using the IP addresses. Most, however, do not.

It’s frustrating enough that I consider a 169.254.x.x the same as “it’s broken” and move on to resolving the underlying cause.

About all you can really say from getting one of those addresses is simply that the machine cannot reach the DHCP server over the network.

  • If you’re connected via a NAT router, then either your computer is not actually connected on the network to that router, or the router itself isn’t responding to the DHCP request. I typically triple-check my cabling, and perhaps reboot the router.
  • If you’re connected to the internet directly then there’s something about that that isn’t working. Check the cabling to your broadband modem, and check the cabling from your broadband modem to your telephone or cable line. And, if all else fails, call your ISP – it may be their DHCP server or some other item they control that’s at fault.

Bottom line: if you’re getting a 169.254.x.x IP address then something about your network setup isn’t working, and you probably want to investigate what and why.

There are 40 comments:

  1. Dave B Reply

    Hmmmm – is home your local machine or your home router? A good coffee conversation! It gets really weird when you consider IPv6..

  2. Tobie Reply

    this is all makes sense, i have a spanner thrown into my works. i’m running a wireless network in my home. for some reason a few days ago my Desktop stopped connecting to the internet. phone my isp and we ran through a number of things. the computer wouldn’t run either through ethernet or usb to the modem. there appears to be nothing wrong with the computer tried going bac to a restore point when everything was working and this didn’t work there is nothing wrong with the router or the modem as i am still able to connect wirelessly from my laptop, actually what i’m usiing now to write this. but my desktop won’t connect to the router or the modem either through ethernet direct cable, usb or wirelessly i am stuck and don’t know where to turn now. have unistalled firwall and virus (after doing checks!) cann’t see any reason why adawre or spyware would actually try to stop me connecting. does anyone have any ideas?

  3. Elbert Reply

    I Read the article with interest on the IP addreses and learned something new. Good explanation, have never been caught up in this sitiuation but now I know about and IP address that just will not work.

  4. Christine Reply

    The evening after I read this article, two of the computers in my home network started displaying this. I was so grateful I’d read the article because I knew (sort of at least) what was going on. Thanks for all the great information.

  5. EdVpNb Reply

    Tobie, try new port on router? new cable? diffrent computer, connected to the router hardwired? Reset your router? manually configure your ip on that comptuer? Run->CMD->ipconfig /release (Enter) ipconfig /renew (Enter)? 30 sec power cycle? Finally Baseball bat, bet u could hit a home run!!!!

  6. Chris Reply

    ahhh, the baseball bat.. The first and final solution to all your problems :)

    btw, I am my home… 127.0.0.1

  7. Leo A. Notenboom Reply

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    Ex, you’re ahead of your time. To bad your home isn’t widely available yet.

    Someday.

    Leo

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFGzKDGCMEe9B/8oqERAkPBAJ9XgWdx1IT9GCf6tFs9UWtEkw9gBgCggOSw
    PhS+NrTmugnCMTyYhctjMn4=
    =uU2Z
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

  8. teemu Reply

    I have the same problem and I am desperate in getting this resolved once for all.. Can you please help? Thanks.. I am running windows xp and its my home laptop. Thx

  9. chuck stewart Reply

    hi, i wanted to know why i am receiveing a message like this (the server name or address could not be resolved) . this happens when i try and conncet with just 1 website , ultimate baseball online, everything else works , it doesnt make any sence to me. please help me . thannk you

  10. Carlos Eduardo Reply

    I had the same problem with this wrong 169.254 ip address. Please check if you have set up WEP. If yes, check the authentication type; it must be “Open Authentication” on your wireless PC, otherwise the router can’t send the right ip address acording to the DHCP range, and the PC assumes the 169.254 managed by APIPA. It’s possible also to set up static IP address, but is not a good solution, and the conection is also very unstable.good look

  11. Austin Whipple Reply

    how do i get a new ip address so i can play xbox 360 live?

  12. rajiv sampat Reply

    I seem to have found a solution to ip address 169.254.x.x following guidelines by leo.
    I simply went to services in administrative tools,right clicked on DHCP client stopped,waited for 5 secs and restarted DHCP client,unplugged ethernet cable from pc,restarted pc and router.
    Turned on the router first and plugged in the ethernet cable back in as pc started again.
    Checked ip address and pc picked up the right ip address letting me reconfigure the router.

  13. herman greenstein Reply

    who said WEP? DON’T USE IT!!!!! Use WPA (WiFi Protected Access). it’s MUCH more secure.

  14. MD.ARAFAT QUARISHI Reply

    I RUN A INTERNET CAFE SOME TIMES MY COMPUTERS THEY GET APIPA.MOST OF THE TIME IT IS RESOLVED BY DISABLING & ENABLING THE NIC>A RELEASE RENEW>WINSOCK RESET>SWAPPING OF LAN CABLE> HARD RESET OF ROUTER.ALSO I DO CHECK THE LAN ADAPTOR BY PINGGING 127.0.0.1 . AM I FOLLOWING THE CORRECT TROUBLESHOOTING STEPS?IF NOT THEN WHAT ARE THE STEPS I SHOULD PERFORM?PLEASE REPLY.MY EMAIL ADDRESSS IS [email address removed]

  15. Indy Reply

    using router and switch connect with 6 pc with wired,3pc have ip:169.254.x.x why,
    I did power cycle, winsock, ipconfig/release/renew, …etc. still don’t fix.
    Please help me out.

  16. Stumpper Reply

    Indy – I got 169.254 on Dec 1 2008 on my 3rd day down – Im connected wired from the cable modem to the computer – when I remove the coax to the modem I get the IP for the modem – when I connect the coax back in the modem I get 169.254 again – using Charter internet – Thanks

  17. armetra Reply

    I have now experienced this problem with two clients and its the same problem with both wireless and wired pc and laptops. Something strange is going on here. I have tried every possible solution on google. I got so pissed I finally just reload XP on the computer and all was good. But I still haven’t come up with a solution. But I’m on the job and I will post the solution here on this site.

  18. armetra Reply

    Well I guess I was wrong. To get my client back on the net. I looked up his Ip address via his router then I regedit the registry and I searched for 169.254.16.119, his current stuck address and replaced it with and ip address in the real range of addresses and default gateway of 255.255.255.0 and ran winsockfix. I found on google and I am writing this fix on right know on his computer and he is very happy. It worked! I will do more research on this cause I want to know why this is happening.

  19. Rod Reply

    I am trying to recocnise a Vivotex PT 7137 PTZ camera usung supplier install software.
    All is fine, with an IP Address of 10.0.0.8 from a router DHCP server, in ipconfig until I run the discover program, then I end up with the following ipconfig

    Windows IP Configuration

    Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection:

    Connection-specific DNS Suffix . :
    IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . : 169.254.19.220
    Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.0.0
    IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . : 10.0.0.8
    Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.0.0
    Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . : 10.0.0.2

    Is this a standard problem for the discover programs?

    Thanks
    Rod

  20. mathieu Reply

    I solved the problem pretty easily (I have vista though). The only thing I did is clicked ”diagnostic and repair” on the connection menu and chose ”get an ip address for the connection”. I actually tried it a couple of time yesterday night and it didn’t work. I just waited until this morning and it worked the first time I tried. It’s probably because I left my laptop closed for several hours. Good luck to all!

  21. Mark H Reply

    The best way I have found this issue to be resolved if all wlse fails like
    netsh winsock reset catalog (vista)
    or netsh winsock reset (XP)
    try resetting the TCP/IP Stack in cmd prompt which is netsh int ip reset resetlog.txt
    see if that works. Sometimes as i have learnt Winsock does not always repair the issue even though it’s a last resort cmd. but resetting the tcp/ip stack can sometimes resolve this issue.

  22. vikram Reply

    Hello
    I have the same problem, But this occur in my phone
    recently i updated the software then after i cant access WIFI in my phone . Strange thing is I can access other Wireless network & My own Pc internet is working fine . I req everybodu plz help me . My OS is vista home
    big thanks in advance

  23. John (Andrews) Reply

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank YOU to “Mark H”!!!
    I’ve just spend 8 hours in hell (can I say that word?), trying to revive my system from restore points and backups from (fortunately only) a week ago, but keeping track of everything … well long story short, my problem was this “dead network” connectivity with the 169.254.x.x IP address.
    Well, Mark H’s comments to the rescue, the command: “netsh winsock reset” for my XP did the trick! I’ll also look at the other command, “netsh int ip reset resetlog.txt” as I’m curious about that one.
    Also, does anyone have more info on “WINSOCKFIX” program, is it anything more than just these two commands above? I’m leery of a downloaded program from the web (e.g. the DLL fixers) as you hear such war stories about them.
    Best Regards to all, and again THANK YOU for having a site with such valuable posting, and to Mark H for the “winning” post!

  24. Ian Reply

    Microsoft offers a utility that will “hard reset” an IP address that has ‘defaulted’ to a bad ip address.

    Generally you can get the system to reconfigure itself… the issue is caused from a timing issue and static charge.. When you tell the system to reset the IP address it may not work.. do it several times.. then before trying to connect online power cycle your machine.. turn the machine completely off and even unplug it/remove battery. It may take several cycles of this.

    The windows utility and directions for a manual stack dump can be found here:

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/299357

  25. Rachel Reply

    I have two other laptops connecting fine. Except this one with default ip address of 169.254.145.125.. I tried the above “netsh winsock reset” and “netsh int ip reset resetlog.txt” rebooted and still not able to connect to Wireless Network for 192.168.2.1…using WinXP Svc 1.

  26. Cyberman Microsoft certified engineer Reply

    169.254.x.x IP denotes a faulty network cable.

    Ta daaaa nice short answer :)

    Not always. There are many other reasons that a 169. address can happen. (Rarely are answers relating to computers short and simple :-).

    Leo
    17-Nov-2010

  27. Rod Reply

    I have Telus High Speed ADSL coming into my Cisco modem, which is then connected to my in-home router, which in turn connects to an assortment of WinXP, WinVista, Win7, and Mac OSX 10.6.x PCs (not all at once).

    About once a week, sometimes more often, the ADSL modem link to Telus appears to lock up, so my network loses Internet service. When this happens, my in-home network is still functioning, so I suspect the problem is either my router or the ADSL modem.

    I’ve recently replaced the old LinkSys router with an Apple Airport Extreme, but the problem continues, except *maybe* not as frequently.

    When I inspect the Airport router TCPIP setup, it shows an address of 169.254.x.x, and I notice that the last logged connections were an attempt to get a network time update (may be coincidence).

    This interruption process is REALLY annoying, requiring a power cycle of the Airport router, and sometimes of the ADSL modem. Any suggestions? Thanks for any help you can provide!

    Actually I suspect the modem. A 169. address is what many devices fall back to if they cannot get an IP address from where they’re supposed to – typically indicated that the connection has failed.

    Leo
    04-Dec-2010

  28. Rob Reply

    Hello, I am getting 169.254.112.94 However, I can connect using other ISP’s and not my new charter service. They have sent 3 techs over and all get it to work for maybe 1-2 minutes tops. Then all of a sudden, crap again. I need help.

  29. John S Reply

    I’ve been trying to fix a problem with my wireless printer. It took a while, but I finally was able to get the Netgear router to see it, and configure. But when I changed a router setting, the printer went away. Now having a hard time again.

    Reason I mention all that is that my printer’s IP address is 169.254.55.43. Which is probably appropriate for a printer … but I thought I’d mention it.

    Cheers!

    A 169 address is appropriate only for a device that has been unable to connect to the network. In otherwords it’s an error condition if your expecting the printer to work over the network.

    Leo
    14-Apr-2011
  30. John S Reply

    Thanks, Leo. That said, do I need to change the IP address on the printer to get it to work? Is it possible to do that? If so, not sure I know how.

    No, it means that the printer is unable to communicate on your network. Normally it asks for an IP address, the router supplies one. 169 is what it does when the router doesn’t respond, so you have some kind of connectivity/communication issue going on.

    Leo
    14-Apr-2011

  31. DAVID Reply

    ipv4 connectivity limited
    ipv6 connectivity limited
    media state enabled
    my freind has broadband and lets me use it on my pc and i live next door iv allways being able to connect because he gave me his password but now it saying what iv typed at the top of this commentin what can i do to get the internet connection thanks leo

  32. Chet Volpe Reply

    Getting an ip of 169.254.x.x on one computer out of the 4 PC, on iMac, 2 iphones and an ipad… it was working earlier this week and noticed today via TeamViewer that this one computer was offline… After resetting the modem, router (even though all else worked fine) and rebooting the failing pc – still no luck. Any idea why just one computer would not resolve to the 192.168.0.x that it should have…

    Thanks,

    Chet

    Check the cable and the ethernet adapter in the affected computer. Try swapping which port in the router it connects to as well.

    Leo
    02-Apr-2012
  33. Arlie Phillips Reply

    I am having the same problem as Chet. My Acer computer didn’t go online when I started it last week. After checking ipconfig /all it had the 169.254.x.x address. It’s the first time this has happened and my other computers (these are all wireless# can access the Netgear router and get on the Internet. I tried puting in a static IP #192.168.1.x) but that didn’t work either.

  34. Jerry Umali Reply

    Its an error code, you have no internet network access, try restarting your router or switches.

  35. Dwra Reply

    I have a cisco access point(wap200 wireless-G) and sometimes laptops and phones get ip but others don’t.I made some tests with an ipad nad it gets the ip 169.254.215.133 which as I understood from the aricle means that the ipad doesn’t get ip. On the other hand my network is OK because at the same time my phone is connected on internet.What should I do to solve this???thanks

  36. PReinie Reply

    If your computer thinks there should be a cable connection and no cable is connected or it is a faulty cable then you can get the 169.254 IP (even if you want to be wireless).

    If wireless, you might get 169.254 if you didn’t enter your wifi security code properly, but more likely it will just keep asking you for it.

    I have a user who is getting a 169.254 IP and gets different errors, one of which is “IP address conflict”/ “another device is already using that IP address”. What is interesting is he (says he) can get out on the internet (amazon.com). I haven’t figured that one out yet.

    Other things to consider are your router isn’t set up to provide an IP address (you want to control who can use your network / DHCP is disabled in the router). You may have assigned MACs to each IP address and no available IPs are left (you have to assign an IP in the router’s configuration table). Your router is not broadcasting its presence (you may have to enter the network name and password). Another device (computer) is responsible for assigning IPs and that device isn’t seen. The ISP limits the number of computers or assigns only specific MAC addresses to the connection (you have to tell the ISP which MACs are present).

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