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How to change the priorities of your network adapter

Force Windows to use the fastest network connection

Wi-Fi has unquestionably become quite popular in the past decade. So much in fact, that some laptops outright refuse to stop using it, even if a much faster LAN-connection is available. Here's how you can correct the priorities of your network adapter.

For most modern laptops, Wi-Fi is the epitome of network connections, providing connectivity while maintaining mobiliy. If you want that extra bit of transfer speed and reliability however, a conventional LAN-connection might still be the better choice. Unfortunately, some configurations of Windows - particulary those on mobile devices - tend to be so enamored by WLAN that they often won't use anything else, even if a perfectly functional LAN-cable is plugged in. See also: How to create Homegroup-netwoks in Windows 7 and Windows 8

Typically, there are two solutions to this problem: The first one requires you to disable your Wi-Fi-adapter altogether, which is not only unneccessary, but also fairly bothersome. The second one tackles the problem much more elegantly by addressing its source: The network priority settings. Here's how to correct them.

Tip: If you aren't sure whether or not your network adapter uses Wi-Fi in favor of normal LAN, check the monitoring tab in the task manager to get a quick overview of your active connections and their workload.

Adjusting the network connection settings

Open up your Windows-Explorer and right-click on the "Network"-entry on the left. Select "properties" to summon the "Network and Sharing Center" of Windows. Alternatively, you can also open the latter by heading into the "Control Panel" and clicking on "View network status and tasks". Once inside, click on "Change adapter settings" on the left to open a window of your available network connections. Next, press ALT to summon an extra menu bar at the top and navigate over Advanced > Advanced Settings to open a small "Advanced settings"-window.

This is where you can change the priority of your network connections. Take a look at the upper box called "Connections": By changing the order of the listed networks adapters, you can change their preferentiality when more than one of them is connected to the same source. To correct the problem of an overzealous Wi-Fi-connection, just move the corresponding adapter below the LAN-adapters (usually displayed with their full name "Local area connection"). Depending on your CPU-performance and network drivers, changes may take several seconds or minutes to process, so don't be thrown off by long loading times.

For the adjustments to take full effect, most systems will need to be rebooted. However, some driver versions are able to work with the new settings immediately. To find out what applies to your system, simply consult the task manager again to check whether or not your Wi-Fi-connection has been rendered dormant.

As a last tip, if you prefer the benefits of a stable LAN-connections, but don't want to miss out on the flexibility of WLAN, also take a look at Powerline-adapters to get the best of both worlds.

This article is based on a segment by our sister publication PCWELT.de.

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