Disable Automatic Wireless Connections

Woman in coffee shop
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By default, your Windows computer automatically connects to any known, existing wireless connection. This means that, once you have provided credentials and connected to a network, Windows automatically connects you to that network the next time it detects it. Connection information is stored in a network profile.

Usually, this practice makes sense — why would you want to continually log on to your own home network?

But for some networks, you may want to turn off this capability. For example, networks in coffee shops and public places are frequently unsecured. Unless you have a strong firewall and you are very careful, you may want to avoid connecting to these networks since they are frequent targets of hackers. 

Another reason to avoid automatic connections is that your computer might be connecting you to a weak connection when a stronger one is available.

You can explicitly turn off automatic connection for individual network profiles using the procedures here for Windows 7, 8 and 10.

Another option is to just manually disconnect from the network. When Windows detects that you have manually disconnected from a network, it prompts you for authentication next time you try to connect.

Windows 10

  1. Tap the Action Center icon and choose All Settings.
  2. Select Network & Internet.
  3. Choose Wi-Fi.
  4. Select Change Adapter Options on the right panel under Related Settings to open the Network Connections dialog. 
  1. Double-click on the relevant Wi-Fi connection to open the Wi-Fi Status dialog.
  2. Click the Wireless Properties button below the General tab to open the Wireless Network Properties dialog.
  3. Uncheck the entry Connect Automatically When This Network is in Range under the Connection tab.

Windows 8

  1. Click the Wireless Networking icon in the system tray on your desktop. (This icon is represented by five bars of increasing size from small to large). You can also activate the Charms utility, tap Settings and then tap the Network icon.
  1. Identify the network name in the list. Right-click and choose Forget This Network. This deletes the network profile entirely.

Windows 7

  1. Click the Start button, then Control Panel.
  2. Select Network and Sharing Center if you are using the icon view. For the Category view, choose Network and Internet, and then Network and Sharing Center in the right pane.
  3. Choose Change Adapter Settings in the left pane.
  4. Right-click the relevant network and choose Properties to open Connection Properties dialog.
  5. Choose the Authentication tab and uncheck Remember my Credentials for this Connection Each Time I'm Logged On.