How to fix a disabled network interface

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By it's nature, off-the-shelf Home Servers are accessible only by Remote Desktop[1] since these servers are headless units with no video connector. This creates a total and complete dependency on network connectivity in order to be able to interact with your server.


The problem

In the attempt to set a static IP or troubleshoot a networking issue, some users have disabled the Network Interface without considering that this will leave their server completely inaccessible.

Possible Solutions

The resolutions to this issue are to either perform a Server Recovery[2], or build[3] or purchase[4] a video cable that will connect to the server debug connector, or to use a USB keyboard and attempt to blindly interact with the server.

The Best Solution

There have been several different possible mechanisms[5] for attempting to blindly enable a disabled network interface via USB keyboard, and the following instructions by forum member "Qnigma"[6] are recognized as the easiest and most successful.

  1. Have a keyboard plugged before the Server is turned on
  2. Turn on the Server
  3. Wait until you hear almost no disk activity. This could take 10 or more minutes
  4. Press [ESC] 2 or 3 times
  5. Press [Ctrl+Alt+Del]
  6. Hold down [Shift] then press [TAB] briefly 1 time
  7. Type: administrator
  8. Press [Tab] (again, 1 brief press)
  9. Type: your server password
  10. Press [Enter] and wait 5 minutes
  11. Press [StartMenuKey] + [r]
  12. Type: ncpa.cpl
  13. Press [Enter]
  14. Wait 60 seconds
  15. Press [UpArrowKey]
  16. Press [Enter]

Here is an image of the resulting Network Control. By pressing "Up" in step 15, you are selecting the primary network location. If you have more than one network adapter in your Home Server then this method may not work.

Ncpa cpl.jpg