Windows 10 Wi-Fi Sense FAQ

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Windows 10 Wi-Fi Sense FAQ Questions and Answer

Wi‑Fi Sense automatically connects you to Wi‑Fi, so you can get online quickly in more places. It can connect you to open Wi‑Fi hotspots it knows about through crowdsourcing, or to Wi‑Fi networks your contacts have shared with you by using Wi‑Fi Sense.

Here are a few things to know to before you get started:
  1. You need to be signed in with your Microsoft account to use Wi‑Fi Sense.
  2. Wi‑Fi Sense is available on Windows 10, but not on earlier versions of Windows.
  3. Wi‑Fi Sense isn’t available in all countries or regions.

What does Wi‑Fi Sense do?

Wi‑Fi Sense connects you to Wi‑Fi networks around you. It can do these things for you to get you Internet access:
  • Automatically connect you to open Wi‑Fi networks it knows about by crowdsourcing networks that other people using Windows have connected to. These are typically open Wi‑Fi hotspots you see when you’re out and about.
  • Automatically connect you to Wi‑Fi networks that your Facebook friends, Outlook.com contacts, or Skype contacts have shared with you after you’ve shared at least one network with your contacts. When you and your contacts share Wi‑Fi networks with each other, you give each other Internet access, but don’t get to see each other’s passwords. No networks are shared automatically. When you first connect to a network that you decide to share, you’ll need to enter the password, and then select the Share network with my contacts check box to share that network.
The initial settings for Wi‑Fi Sense are determined by the options you chose when you first set up your PC with Windows 10. You can change your Wi‑Fi Sense settings any time by selecting Settings > Network & Internet > Wi‑Fi > Manage Wi‑Fi settings, and then changing one or both of these settings under Wi‑Fi Sense:
  • Connect to suggested open hotspots
  • Connect to networks shared by my contacts

Can Wi‑Fi Sense discover my location even if I have the Windows location service turned off for my user account?

Yes. Wi‑Fi Sense can discover your device location even when location is turned off for your user account. This is true whenever Wi‑Fi Sense is turned on. Wi‑Fi Sense uses your location to find suggested open Wi‑Fi hotspots.

What determines if Wi‑Fi Sense will automatically connect to open Wi‑Fi hotspots?

Wi‑Fi Sense will automatically connect you to suggested open Wi‑Fi hotspots if you have Connect to suggested open hotspots turned on in Settings > Network & Internet > Wi‑Fi > Manage Wi‑Fi settings. This is turned on already if you did either of these:
  • Selected Use Express settings when you first set up your PC with Windows 10
  • Chose Customize settings during setup, then turned on Automatically connect to suggested open hotspots. Not all networks are secure.

How does Wi‑Fi Sense determine which open Wi‑Fi hotspots to connect me to?

Wi‑Fi Sense has a database of information about open Wi‑Fi hotspots—and we update that crowdsourced information based on what your PC and other participating customers’ PCs tell us about those networks. Wi‑Fi Sense analyzes some characteristics of open Wi‑Fi networks that other Windows customers have connected to and determines if they had a good-quality connection. If enough of them did, those networks are added to the database and are suggested by Wi‑Fi Sense. You and others then get connected to a suggested network when one of them is in range.

I’m concerned about security. What should I know about connecting to an open network?

An open network is a Wi‑Fi network that doesn’t require a password to connect, which means that the network isn’t secure. Anyone can connect to it, and other people might see info you send over the network. Many public Wi‑Fi hotspots are open networks that fall into this category.

Be careful using an open network to do something online that requires sensitive or personal information, such as banking or buying things online. Even if the Wi‑Fi network isn’t open and requires a password or certificate to connect, other people on the network or Internet can still possibly see the info you send unless the connection to the website uses HTTPS. This kind of connection to a website is encrypted and is shown with a lock icon Lock icon on the address bar in Microsoft Edge. You can also use VPN to get an encrypted and more secure connection.
If you’re really not sure about the safety of a Wi‑Fi network, you should disconnect from it and try to connect to a Wi‑Fi network you trust. (To disconnect from a Wi‑Fi network, select the Wi‑Fi network icon Wi‑Fi icon on the taskbar in the lower-right corner of the desktop, select the network you’re connected to, and then select Disconnect.) Another thing you can do is turn off Wi‑Fi while you’re doing something that requires sensitive info and use cellular data instead during that time (if your PC has a cellular data connection).

Remember, there are lots of other things you can do on open Wi‑Fi that you might feel comfortable doing—like browsing the web, catching up on the news, watching videos online, listening to streaming music, or checking social networks you use (to name just a few things).

There are a few networks around me. How does Wi‑Fi Sense determine which one to connect to?

There are times when a few Wi‑Fi networks will be in range. When this happens, Wi‑Fi Sense will try to choose the best one to connect to based on several different factors. It considers if other people using Wi‑Fi Sense have connected to it, if it’s a network that you’ve connected to on your own, whether it’s password-protected or open (password-protected networks are given preference over open networks), if it’s provided by your mobile operator, and if it’s been shared by a contact. Along with those things, it considers the signal strength and quality of the network to try to give you the best Wi‑Fi connection at that time.

What determines if Wi‑Fi Sense will automatically connect me to Wi‑Fi networks my contacts have shared with me?

Wi‑Fi Sense will automatically connect you to Wi‑Fi networks your Facebook friends, Outlook.com contacts, or Skype contacts have shared with you if you have Connect to networks shared by my contacts turned on in Settings > Network & Internet > Wi‑Fi > Manage Wi‑Fi settings and you’ve shared at least one network with your contacts. This is turned on already if you did either of these:
  • Selected Use Express settings when you first set up your PC with Windows 10
  • Chose Customize settings during setup, then turned on Automatically connect to networks shared by your contacts

How can I share Wi‑Fi network access with my contacts?

Sharing access to password-protected Wi‑Fi networks gives your Facebook friends, Outlook.com contacts, or Skype contacts Internet access without them seeing your Wi‑Fi network passwords. Your contacts and friends then get automatically connected to the Wi‑Fi network you share if they’re using Wi‑Fi Sense on their PC running Windows 10, or on their phone if it’s running Windows 10 Mobile. Likewise, your PC will automatically connect to Wi‑Fi networks they share with you to give you Internet access.

Some other important things to know beforehand—you choose if you want to share a Wi‑Fi network when you first connect to it, and you and your contacts give and get Internet access without seeing each other’s network passwords. They won’t have access to other computers, devices, or files stored on your home network, and you won’t have access to these things on their network.

To share Wi‑Fi network access with your contacts

  1. Go to Start Start icon, then select Settings > Network & Internet > Wi‑Fi > Manage Wi‑Fi settings.
  2. Turn on Connect to networks shared by my contacts.

    When this option is turned on, you’ll be able to do two things—automatically get connected to password-protected Wi‑Fi networks your contacts share with you, and select Wi‑Fi networks to share with your contacts by using Wi‑Fi Sense.

  3. Select one or more of these check boxes—Outlook.com contacts, Skype contacts, or Facebook friends—depending on which groups of contacts you want to share networks with.
  4. When you connect to a password-protected Wi‑Fi network later on, select the Share network with my contacts check box if you want to share that network.

    For contacts in the group or groups you chose, Microsoft will share access to that network if they’re using Wi‑Fi Sense on a PC that’s running Windows 10 or phone that’s running Windows 10 Mobile. It can be a few days between the time you share the network and the time your contacts get connected to it.

    To share Wi‑Fi network access with Outlook.com contacts, they need to be in your address book and you need to be in theirs.

Do all my Facebook friends, Skype contacts, and Outlook.com contacts have access to the networks I share?

You control whether you want to share your password-protected network with your contacts using Wi‑Fi Sense. You can share a network with just your Facebook friends, mutual Skype contacts, or mutual Outlook.com contacts, or with all three groups if you want. It’s up to you.

After you share access to a network with a group of contacts, all the contacts in that group will be able to connect to the network when it’s in range. For example, if you choose to share with your Facebook friends, any of your Facebook friends who are using Wi‑Fi Sense on a PC that’s running Windows 10 or phone running Windows 10 Mobile will get connected to the network you shared when it’s in range.

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Can I choose to share Wi‑Fi networks with individual contacts?

No, you can’t pick and choose individual contacts. You can only share with groups of contacts. For example, if you share password-protected Wi‑Fi networks with your Skype contacts, all your Skype contacts will have Internet access over the networks you share.

I’m concerned about sharing Wi‑Fi networks. Can you tell me a little more?

Whether you choose to share password-protected Wi‑Fi networks with your contacts to give them Internet access is completely up to you. Here are some important things to know and consider:
  • Your contacts don’t see your Wi‑Fi network password. For networks you choose to share access to, the password is sent over an encrypted connection and is stored in an encrypted file on a Microsoft server, and is then sent over an HTTPS connection to your contacts’ PC or phone if they use Wi‑Fi Sense. Your contacts don’t get to see your password, and you don’t get to see theirs.
  • You’re in control, and you choose which Wi‑Fi networks you want to share access to. When you first connect to a password-protected Wi‑Fi network, you choose if you want to share access to that network with your contacts. You can share a few networks, a lot, or none—it’s up to you to decide which networks you share. You might have more contacts on one social network or service than another, so you could share Wi‑Fi network access with one social network or service and not another to help determine how many people can have access.
  • When you share network access, your contacts get Internet access only. For example, if you share your home Wi‑Fi network, your contacts won’t have access to other computers, devices, or files stored on your home network. If you have a small business that has intranet sites, your contacts won’t be able to access them.
  • Networks are only shared with contacts who use Wi‑Fi Sense on a PC running Windows 10 or phone running Windows 10 Mobile. Wi‑Fi Sense doesn’t work for people who use a PC or phone that’s running on a different operating system. If your contacts turn off Connect to networks shared by my contacts in Settings > Network & Internet > Wi‑Fi > Manage Wi‑Fi settings, they’ll stop sharing their networks and they won’t be able to connect to networks you share.
  • You share with your contacts, but not their contacts. The networks you share aren’t shared with your contacts’ contacts. If your contacts want to share one of your networks with their contacts, they’d need to know your actual password and type it in to share the network.
  • Enterprise networks that use 802.1X can’t be shared. If you connect to one of these enterprise networks at work or somewhere else, those network credentials won’t be shared with any of your contacts.

Can I use Wi‑Fi without using Wi‑Fi Sense?

Yes, you can still connect to a Wi‑Fi network on your own.

If you don’t want to use Wi‑Fi Sense, you can go to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi‑Fi > Manage Wi‑Fi settings, and then turn off Connect to suggested open hotspots and Connect to networks shared by my contacts.

How can I prevent someone from sharing my Wi‑Fi network password if I decide to manually enter it on their PC?

If you decide to manually enter your password on someone’s PC instead of sharing access through Wi‑Fi Sense, make sure they can’t see what you’re typing when you enter it, and then make sure that the Share network with my contacts check box is cleared before you select Connect.

I entered my network password on my friend’s PC and cleared the Share network with my contacts check box before connecting. Can they share my network later?

They could, but only if they know the actual password and enter it to share your network.

Can someone I share my network with change my Wi‑Fi network password?

No. When you share access to a password-protected Wi‑Fi network by using Wi‑Fi Sense, your contacts don’t see the network password. For networks you choose to share access to, the password is sent over an encrypted connection and is stored in an encrypted file on a Microsoft server, and is then sent over an HTTPS connection to your contacts’ PC or phone if they use Wi‑Fi Sense.

I see text with a link that says Wi‑Fi Sense needs permission to use an account. What do I need to do?

If the link appears and you want to be able to select Wi‑Fi networks to share with those contacts, just select the link, and then follow the instructions.

How long does it take for shared Wi‑Fi networks to show on my PC and my contacts’ PCs?

If a contact shares Wi‑Fi network access with you, it can take a few days for it to appear on your PC before you’ll get connected to it automatically. The same is true for networks you share with your contacts—it can take a few days for them to get access on their PC or phone. If you share a network and then stop sharing it, it usually takes a few days until it stops being shared so your contacts can’t connect to it. This is also the case if you add or remove contacts or friends—it usually takes a few days for the changes to take place.

Do I have to share all networks?

No, you choose which password-protected networks you want to share. If you don’t want to share a particular network, just clear the Share network with my contacts check box when you first connect to that network.

I’m sharing a network and want to stop it. How do I do that?

If you’re sharing Wi‑Fi network access and want to stop sharing a certain network, do the following:

To stop sharing access to a Wi‑Fi network

  1. Go to Start Start icon > Settings > Network & Internet > Wi‑Fi > Manage Wi‑Fi settings.
  2. Under Manage known networks, select the network that you want to stop sharing access to, and then select Stop sharing.

    It can take a few days for the network to stop being shared. This is also true if a user is already connected to the network.

If you want to stop sharing all Wi‑Fi networks that you’re currently sharing, go to Start Start icon > Settings > Network & Internet > Wi‑Fi > Manage Wi‑Fi settings, and then turn off Connect to networks shared by my contacts under Wi‑Fi Sense. It can take a few days for the networks to which you’ve shared access to stop being shared. When you turn this setting off, you won’t get connected to Wi‑Fi networks that your contacts have shared with you.

How do I opt my Wi‑Fi network out of Wi‑Fi Sense?

If you don’t want Wi‑Fi Sense to connect people to your open Wi‑Fi network or allow people to share access to your password-protected network, you can opt your network out of it by including _optout somewhere in the Wi‑Fi network name (also called the SSID). For example, mynetwork_optout or my_optout_network. When it comes to sharing, you might choose to do this if you have a Wi‑Fi network at home or at a small business where other people know the Wi‑Fi network password, but you don’t want to allow your network to be shared.

To change your network name and opt out of Wi‑Fi Sense

  1. Use an Ethernet cable to connect your computer to your router or other Wi‑Fi access point.
  2. Open your web browser, and then enter the address of the configuration webpage for your Wi‑Fi router or other access point. The address is usually either http://192.168.0.1 or http://192.168.1.1.

    If it’s not one of these addresses, you can try a few other things. First, check the bottom of your router or access point, and see if there’s a sticker with the address listed on it. If there isn’t, you can find the address by typing ipconfig in a command prompt window if you’re using Windows (or ifconfig in the command prompt on Mac OS or Linux), and then looking at the address for the Default gateway.

  3. If prompted, enter the administrator user name and password for your router or access point.

    If you don’t know either one, check the documentation for your router or access point to find the defaults that are used.

  4. On the router configuration webpage, find a text box that’s labeled Name, SSID, or something similar, and then type a new network name that has the phrase _optout in it.
  5. Save your changes if prompted, log out, and then unplug the Ethernet cable that’s connecting your computer to your router.

To get connected to your Wi‑Fi network again when you’re done, choose the new network name, and then enter your network password when prompted.

Notes:

  • Can’t find the Name or SSID box on the router configuration webpage? Look for it in a section labeled Wireless settings or something similar to that.
  • It can take several days for your network to be added to the opted-out list for Wi‑Fi Sense. If you want to stop your network from being shared sooner than that, you can change your Wi‑Fi network password. For more info about how to do that, check the documentation for your router or access point.
  • Depending on your router or access point, you might be able to change the name of your network another way. See the documentation for your router to find out.

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