What is Wi-Fi Sense for Windows 10?

Don't want it? Learn how to turn it off

If you have an older version of Windows 10, you've probably heard about Wi-Fi Sense. Microsoft attempted to solve a modern annoyance, but it may not be worth the trouble. Here's what you need to know about Wi-Fi Sense and how to turn it off.

What Is Wi-Fi Sense?

Wi-Fi Sense was a tool for Windows designed to collect data on public Wi-Fi hotspots, such as those available in coffee shops or public buildings. It would collect useful data about the hotspot, such as its speed and signal strength, and upload it to a database. As the database grew, the idea would be that as Windows products came near these hotspots, they would automatically connect.

What Are the Risks of Wi-Fi Sense?

Wi-Fi Sense was a good idea, but cybersecurity researchers had several objections to the idea. The key objection is there are inherent security risks to connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots. Hackers can load them with malware, or they may be co-opted for other purposes. As a result, some people prefer not to connect to public hotspots automatically.

A Microsoft Surface running Windows 10

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Do You Have Wi-Fi Sense?

Due to security concerns, Microsoft temporarily removed Wi-Fi Sense from later builds of Windows. To determine whether Wi-Fi Sense may be on your computer, check your Windows 10 build.

  1. Press the Windows key, or select the Windows icon in the lower-left corner of your desktop to open the Start menu.

    The Windows 10 Start Menu.
  2. Select the gear icon to open the Settings.

    The Settings option on Windows 10 Start Menu.
  3. Select System.

    Selecting System from the Windows 10 Settings.
  4. On the left panel, select About.

    Selecting About in System settings.
  5. Scroll down to Windows specifications to find your Windows Edition and Version number. If you have version 1803 or later, you don't have Wi-Fi Sense. If you have version 1709 or earlier, you may have Wi-Fi Sense enabled.

    Windows version listed in System settings.

Should You Leave Wi-Fi Sense Enabled?

If you're unable to update your computer, you should probably turn off Wi-Fi Sense. Microsoft has discontinued support and data collection, which means its database is outdated and less useful.

While the chance of downloading malware or otherwise having your computer attacked by malware is unlikely, it isn't out of the realm of probability. Hackers may seek your personal identification, credit card numbers, bank accounts, or other private data. It's better to be safe than sorry.

If possible, as a rule of thumb for personal security, have only one credit card you use on the internet. This will limit your exposure, Wi-Fi Sense or not.

How to Disable Wi-Fi Sense

Follow these steps to disable Wi-Fi Sense:

  1. Press the Windows key, then select the gear icon to open Windows Settings.

    The Settings option on Windows 10 Start Menu.
  2. Select Network & Internet.

    Network and internet option is highlighted.
  3. On the left panel, select Wi-Fi > Manage Wi-Fi settings.

    Wi-Fi settings is highlighted.
  4. Select the toggle switches for Connect to open suggested hotspots and Connect to networks shared by my contacts to toggle both off.

    Windows 10 Wi-Fi Sense settings
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