Disable Automatic Wireless Connections in Windows

Stay secure by preventing automatic connections to some networks

The Wireless Connection
The Wireless Connection
Introduction

By default, your Windows computer connects to any previously used wireless connection automatically. After you provide credentials and connect to a network one time, Windows connects you to that network the next time Windows detects it. However, if you don't want to connect to a network automatically, either disable automatic connections or forget (remove) a network.

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

Disable Automatic Connections in Windows 10

When you don't want your computer to connect to your ISP automatically, turn off automatic connections. In Windows 10, you can do this through the Action Center.

  1. In the lower-right corner of the screen, select the Action Center icon, then choose All Settings.

    Selecting "Action Center" and "All Settings" in Windows 10
  2. Select Network & Internet.

    Network & Internet in Windows 10.

    In Windows 10, go directly to Settings by pressing the Win+I keyboard shortcut or selecting Start > Settings (gear icon).

  3. In the left pane, select Wi-Fi.

    Selecting "Wi-Fi" In Windows Network settings,
  4. In the Related settings section, select Change adapter options.

    A screenshot of Windows Wi-Fi settings with the Change Adapter Options heading highlighted
  5. In the Network Connections dialog box, double-click the relevant Wi-Fi connection.

    A screenshot of a Wi-Fi network in Windows settings
  6. In the Wi-Fi Status dialog box, select Wireless Properties.

    A screenshot of a Wi-Fi status window in Windows with the Wireless Properties command highlighted
  7. In the Connection tab, clear the check box for Connect automatically when this network is in range.

    A screenshot of a Wi-Fi network's properties in Windows with the "Connect automatically" option highlighted
  8. Click OK to save the setting and close out of the dialog box.

Forget Networks in Windows 8

In Windows 8, there's no setting for disabling automatic connections, but you can forget networks, which accomplishes the same thing.

  1. Select the Wireless Networking icon in the system tray located in the lower-right corner of the desktop. This icon consists of five bars of increasing size from small to large.

    Alternatively, activate the Charms utility, then select Settings Network.

  2. Right-click the network's name and select Forget This Network to delete the network's profile.

Disable Automatic Connections in Windows 7

In Windows 7, you can disable automatic connections or forget a network to prevent your computer from connecting to Wi-Fi networks you've used before. To disable automatic connections:

  1. Select Start, and then choose Control Panel.

  2. In the Icon view, select Network and Sharing Center. Or, in the Category view, choose Network and Internet, then select Network and Sharing Center.

  3. Select Change Adapter Settings.

  4. Right-click the relevant network, then choose Properties.

  5. In the Connection Properties dialog box, select the Authentication tab, and clear the check box for Remember my credentials for this connection each time I'm logged on.

Forget Networks in Windows 7

Another way to prevent automatic connections in Windows 7 is to forget (remove) the network:

  1. Select Start, then choose Control Panel.

  2. In the Icon view, select Network and Sharing Center. Or, in the Category view, select Network and Internet, then choose Manage Wireless Networks.

  3. Choose the relevant Wi-Fi connection, the select Remove.

Reasons to Prevent Automatic Connections

Allowing automatic connections usually makes sense, particularly in your home network. However, you may want to turn off this capability for some networks. For example, networks in coffee shops and public places are frequently unsecured. Unless you have a strong firewall, avoid connecting to public networks because hackers often target public Wi-Fi connections.

Another reason to avoid automatic network connections is that your computer might automatically connect you to a weak wireless connection when a stronger one is available.

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 connect.

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