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Take on Windows 10 Wi-Fi problems and address Wi-Fi Sense

Windows 10 Wi-Fi connectivity is not as straightforward as it sounds. Microsoft moved the Wi-Fi settings and added security risks with Wi-Fi Sense. Plus, Wi-Fi often fails after an upgrade.

Connecting to Wi-Fi in Windows 10 is a little different than in past versions, so IT administrators should familiarize themselves with what's new.

A Windows 10 user without Wi-Fi these days is about as useful as a speed boat without an engine. Users simply cannot get any work done without an internet connection. As a result, IT must know how to solve some common Windows 10 Wi-Fi problems and understand the new connectivity features, such as Wi-Fi Sense, before upgrading.

Explore the Windows 10 Wi-Fi landscape to learn about configuring users' wireless access, resolving post-upgrade connectivity issues and more.

Where are the Wi-Fi connectivity settings in Windows 10?

Microsoft moved the Wi-Fi connectivity settings in Windows 10 to the Settings app. To access them, click Start, Settings, and Network and Internet. On Wi-Fi enabled devices, a wireless section lists all the available wireless networks in the menu that pops up on the left side of the screen. Click the wireless network you want to connect to the internet.

The Advanced section allows you to make the device discoverable on the network or view data usage. Click Manage Wi-Fi Settings to change how the device connects to networks, including whether it does so automatically.

The technical details of a Wi-Fi network, including the name, its service set identifier (SSID) and its wireless protocol are also under Advanced. The information comes in handy when you need to troubleshoot Windows 10 Wi-Fi problems.

How can you configure users' wireless access?

You can limit which wireless networks users can connect to in Windows 10. Open the Group Policy Object Editor and click Computer Configuration, Policies, Windows Settings, Security Settings and Wireless Network Policies. Then right click any network to make a policy for it, including allowing or denying access. Name the policy and enter the network's SSID.

What happens if Wi-Fi fails after a Windows 10 upgrade?

IT administrators must know how to solve some common Windows 10 Wi-Fi problems and understand the new connectivity features.

One of the most common Wi-Fi problems after an upgrade is that device drivers are not compatible with the new OS. Incompatible device drivers prevent devices from connecting to the internet.

You can resolve the issue with the Windows Device Manager by checking if Windows identified the Wi-Fi adapter incorrectly. Log in to a Microsoft account with admin privileges, right click the Start menu and open the Device Manager in the shortcut menu. Next click Network Adapters and check if the device driver name in the Device Manager is the same as the device's hardware. If it's not, get rid of the existing driver with the Uninstall command.

After that, right click the computer name and select Scan for Hardware Changes, which should allow Windows to identify the driver correctly. If it is still wrong, right click the network adapter, choose Update Driver Software and have the device search for driver software. Next download the correct driver and save it to the computer. You can now show Windows the exact driver it should use.

What is Wi-Fi Sense in Windows 10?

Windows 10 includes a feature called Wi-Fi Sense, which makes it easier for users to connect to more wireless networks quickly. Wi-Fi Sense works on Windows 10 PCs, tablets and phones. For it to work, users must be logged in to their Windows account. The feature scans for open Wi-Fi networks -- networks without a password -- and automatically connects users to the best network in range based on its strength and the number of users on it.

In the enterprise, this can be a real problem. Users who have business data on their devices should not automatically connect to untrusted networks because hackers could steal sensitive information. And, any organization that has an open network should prevent unknown users from accessing it. Unauthorized users on a company's network can slow the internet down for employees and provide access to corporate resources.

Show off your knowledge of Windows 10 features

Are you a Windows 10 expert? Flaunt your knowledge with this quiz about app compatibility, the OS upgrade process and more.

How do I turn Wi-Fi Sense off?

Allowing users to automatically connect to any Wi-Fi hotspot is such a security black hole you must know how to turn off Wi-Fi Sense. The best way to turn it off on devices with Windows 10 version 1511 or higher is to deactivate it at the Group Policy level. To do so open the Group Policy Object Editor and turn off "Allow Windows to automatically connect to suggested open hotspots, to networks shared by contacts and to hotspots offering paid services."

Another way to manage Wi-Fi Sense is to access its controls by clicking Start, Settings, and Network and Internet. Then select Manage Wi-Fi Settings. In the next window click Stop Sharing on your company's corporate network. You can also prevent users from automatically connecting to hotspots and shared networks through Wi-Fi Sense by turning off both options.

If you want to ensure that Wi-Fi Sense users cannot access your network, just put _optout in your company's Wi-Fi name.

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This was last published in November 2016

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