In my neighborhood there are several wireless networks. All of these
are unsecured. As the signal of one of these is stronger than that of
my own router, my laptop sometimes attempts to connect to this other
network. I am running Vista and have repeatedly deleted all the
neighboring networks from the list in the network center. Nevertheless,
it reappears the next time I start up the laptop. Are there other ways
to remove this competing network than just deleting it from the
Deleting it might well be exactly the wrong thing to do.
I believe what you really want to do is leave it in the list, but
tell Vista not to use it.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
The list of wireless networks we want is in Control
Panel, Network and Sharing Center, in the
task Manage Wireless Networks:
In this example from my laptop, you can see that I have several
wireless networks listed.
There are two things to note for this discussion: the order of this
list and the last column which lists manual and automatic connection
type (if you don’t see this column you may need to widen the
When looking for a wireless network to connect to, Windows starts at
the top of this list and tries to connect to each network marked
“automatic” until it finds one that it can connect to.
others, they can just as easily see yours; make sure you
To prevent accidental connections we need to do two things:
change the order of the list so that your network appears first
change the “other” network to a manual connection type
Changing the order is simple: just click and hold on the
network name in the list and drag it into the position you want it to
have and release.
To change from automatic to manual, right click on the
As you can see, you can remove the network, and also use this menu to
move the network up and down in the list, but we’ll click on
The key is to make sure that “Connect automatically when this
network is in range” is not checked. You can still
connect to these networks if you want to, but you’ll need to do so
manually. That’s done by right clicking on Windows Vista’s networking
icon in the task bar and selecting “Connect to a Network”.
As an aside, I’ve not found a way to make absolutely sure that newly
discovered open networks aren’t set to “connect automatic” by default.
You’ll need to keep an eye out for this, and, if that happens, make sure to set
that network to manual.
This example shows the wireless connection used by a local coffee
house, and as you can see, I’ve got it set to connect manually.
Sometimes I simply don’t want to connect when I’m there, for security
or other reasons, and at a minimum, I want to be in control. At home,
the top connection on my list, connections can happen
And as for the various hotel connections you see on my list, there’s
no reason for me to keep them, so I deleted them shortly after writing
As a final aside to the extremely watchful: yes, my home network is
unsecured (no password or encryption). This is intentional and a mater
of convenience. I live in a remote enough area that the WiFi signal
doesn’t travel far enough for others to see – or they’d have to be
sitting in my driveway where I’d notice. If you’re not positive that others aren’t in range, then
absolutely, you should be using WPA encryption on your wireless network.
Since you can see the wireless networks of others, they can just as
easily see yours; make sure you encrypt.