Disable Automatic Wireless Connections on Windows

Stay secure by preventing automatic connections to some networks

The Wireless Connection
The Wireless Connection

By default, your Windows computer automatically connects to any known, existing wireless connection. After you provide credentials and connect to a network one time, Windows automatically connects you to that network the next time it detects it. The connection information is stored in a network profile.

Reasons to Prevent Automatic Connections

Usually, this practice makes sense—you wouldn't want to log on continually to your home network. However, 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 are careful, you may want to avoid connecting to these networks because they are frequent targets of hackers. 

Another reason to avoid automatic network connections is that your computer might connect 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 listed here for Windows 7, 8, and 10.

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

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, 8, and 7.

Disabling Automatic Connections in Windows 10

  1. At the bottom right corner, select the Action Center icon and choose All Settings.

    The Action Center in Windows 10.
  2. Select Network & Internet.

    Network & INternet link in Windows 10 settings
  3. On the left side, select Wi-Fi.

    Network settings in Windows 10.
  4. Select Change Adapter Options on the right panel under Related Settings to open the Network Connections dialog. 

    Change adapter options button in Wi-Fi Related settings
  5. Double-click (or right-click and select Properties) on the relevant Wi-Fi connection to open the Wi-Fi Status dialog.

    Wi-Fi device connection link in Network Connections panel for Windows 10
  6. Select Wireless Properties below the General tab to open the Wireless Network Properties dialog.

    Wireless Properties button in Wi-Fi Status window
  7. Uncheck the entry Connect Automatically When This Network is in Range under the Connection tab.

    Connect automatically when this network is in range checkbox in Wireless Network Properties window

Disabling Automatic Connections in Windows 8

  1. Select the Wireless Networking icon in the system tray located on the bottom right corner on your desktop. This icon consists of five bars of increasing size from small to large. You can also activate the Charms utility, select Settings and then select the Network icon.

  2. Identify the network name in the list. Right-click and select Forget This Network. This deletes the network profile entirely.

Disabling Automatic Connections in Windows 7

  1. Click the Start button and then click 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. Select Change Adapter Settings in the left pane.

  4. Right-click the relevant network and choose Properties to open Connection Properties dialog.

  5. Select the Authentication tab and uncheck Remember my Credentials for this Connection Each Time I'm Logged On.

Another way to disable in Windows 7 is to "forget" the network, essentially removing it in Windows. To do this, do the following:

  1. Click the Start button and then click Control Panel.

  2. Select Network and Sharing Center if you are using the icon view. For the Category view, select Network and Internet, then Manage Wireless Networks.

  3. Select the Wi-Fi connection, then select Remove.