Why Does My Computer Keep Switching to a Different Network?

By Tommy Charles

Your computer may switch networks frequently because of a setting in your network properties. It may be advantageous for your computer to do so in order to ensure that you have the best connection possible at all times. However, if you find it distracting, or if you experience connection problems as the result of this behavior, you can prevent it by learning more about network options.

The Default Network

Windows remembers all of the networks that you successfully connect to, and automatically assigns one of these to be the default network. Typically, you will find that this is the most secure network with the strongest signal. When you turn your computer on, Windows automatically connects to this network and will remain connected to it under normal circumstances. You can see all of the networks that your computer has saved by accessing the wireless network list.

Wireless Network List

To access this list, right-click the "Internet Access" icon in the taskbar and then click "Open Network and Sharing Center." Then, click the blue "Manage Wireless Networks" entry on the left-hand side. If you see "Automatically Connect" on any of these networks, then your computer will connect to them when you come within range, provided that you have entered the network's security key at least one time before. You can change this behavior by editing the network's properties.

Network Properties

Each network in the list has properties that are broken down into two groups: connection and security. To view these properties, right-click a network and then click "Properties." To view a network's security key, click the "Security" tab and then click the "Show Characters" checkbox below the "Network Security Key" box. To see the network's default behavior settings, click the "Connection" tab. All networks in the wireless network list will have the "Connect Automatically When This Network Is in Range" checkbox ticked by default. To change this behavior, click this checkbox.

Preventing Network Switching

If two of the networks in your wireless network list are in the same physical location, your computer might switch from one to the other frequently. It does this in an attempt to remain connected to the network with the strongest signal. You can prevent this behavior by right-clicking one of the networks, clicking "Properties" and then deselecting the "Connect to a More Preferred Network if Available" option. To prevent this behavior completely, make the same change with all of the networks in the list.