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Find WiFi information in Windows with on-board tools

Thomas Rau

There are countless tools that provide information on the speed, stability and security of a WLAN connection. But it is easier, faster and completely free of charge to analyze your WLAN with Windows on-board tools. Here we show you how to do it best.

EnlargeIf you take a closer look at your WLAN, you may even be able to surf in places that were previously believed to be inaccessible.
© iStockphoto.com/iPandaStudio

Windows actually shows all the information you need for an optimal WLAN connection: The operating system informs you about available networks, connection stability and WLAN speed, which encryption you are using, what the password is and other details of your WLAN hardware. However, as is almost always the case with Windows, this information is scattered over various menus: some are easily accessible in the settings, others more hidden in the control panel, and some are only accessible and understandable for professionals using suitable commands for the command line.

But if you know where to look for certain WLAN settings, you can solve problems with the wireless network quickly and easily - without additional tools. In this article, we will show you where Windows provides the crucial WLAN information. The information relates to Windows 10 with the 20H2 update (October 2020 update).

Basic WiFi information in the WiFi settings

EnlargeIf you instruct Windows to automatically connect to a WLAN, the system will remember the password. In the WLAN properties you can see all networks where this is the case.

You can find out which WLAN you are connected to by placing the mouse pointer on the WLAN symbol in the lower right-hand corner of the Windows taskbar. Clicking on it opens the list of wireless networks that your computer can reach at its current location. They are sorted according to the signal strength, you can immediately see from the lock symbol at the top left whether the WLAN is secured. With a click on the respective network and then on "Connect" you come to this network, provided you enter the correct password in the next step. If you tick “Connect automatically” beforehand, you don't have to do this the next time. This makes sense with trustworthy WLANs that you use frequently, such as the wireless network at home or at work. You can find an overview of all networks whose password your computer has memorized in the Windows settings under “Network and Internet -› WLAN - ›Manage known networks”. If you want to delete a WLAN there, click on it and select “Do not save”. Windows sorts this list according to connection priority: If several saved WLANs are currently within range of the computer, it automatically connects to the network that is higher up in the list.

WLAN check:Does every device have the best connection?

You can find out about this in the Windows WLAN properties

EnlargeThe WLAN properties show the most important information about the current connection at a glance - including WLAN standard, radio channel and data rate.

Windows provides more detailed information about the WLAN you are currently connected to. To do this, click on “Properties” for this network and then scroll down the page. Here you will find the important technical information about your WLAN connection at a glance: the WLAN standard used ("protocol"), the encryption used ("security type") as well as radio frequency and radio channel ("network frequency range", "network channel") via the computers and routers exchange data. These help in solving WLAN problems as well as the information on the IP address of the Windows computer, its WLAN hardware, its driver version and MAC address, which you can also find here. So that you always have this information at hand in the future, you can use the "Copy" button at the very bottom to transfer it to the Windows clipboard and from there to a Word or Notepad file, for example. Windows also shows you the connection speed here in the properties, but the operating system offers more reliable contact points for this information - which is in the box at the end of the article.

At the top of the properties page you will find the settings for the network profile: If you are at home or at work in the WLAN, "Private" should be marked here. Only then can your Windows computer access other devices in the same network. The "Public" profile should be active in a network that you do not trust.

To switch between the profiles, you must have admin rights.

WLAN settings in the Windows control panel

EnlargeOnly the right network profile makes a connection secure: You should always select the "Private" setting for WLAN at home. Then you can access shares and other network devices.

With every Windows update, Microsoft moves further menus from the control panel to the Windows settings. However, you will still find options for WiFi there that aren't found elsewhere. To do this, go to “Control Panel -› Network and Sharing Center ”. For example, you can adjust the network profiles in the control panel in order to be better protected in private WLANs or to have more options in public WLANs. Call up the option "Change advanced sharing settings" in the left-hand column: You can then switch network detection and file and print sharing on or off in the respective profile. These settings have the effect that your computer is then visible to other devices in the network and offers them its file shares and can also access other devices - or not. The profile that the computer uses for this connection is specified under the name of the network under “Show active networks”.

You can also use the control panel to find out the WiFi password for the network you are connected to. This can be helpful - especially if you usually connect automatically and therefore no longer enter the password manually. To do this, click at the top right under “Connections” on the connection name highlighted in blue, behind which the name of your WLAN is in brackets: Now select “Wireless properties -› Security ”. In the "Security key" line is the WLAN password that you can see in plain text by clicking on "Show characters" with admin rights.

A useful point of contact for WLAN problems are the connection properties in the control panel: You open them in the Network and Sharing Center by clicking on the connection name and "Properties", for which you need admin rights. Here you can see the protocols and drivers that your WLAN hardware uses: The first two entries should be activated in a private network as well as the entries for "Internet Protocol, Version 4" and "Internet Protocol, Version 6". If you have connection problems, it is worth deactivating other entries here - especially those that contain a manufacturer name other than Microsoft or terms such as “VPN” and “Virtual”.

EnlargeIn the control panel, Windows adjusts the information on the transfer rate and signal strength in real time. So you can see at a glance when, for example, a transmission is slowing down.

You can also change the name of the network interfaces in the computer in the control panel: This provides a better overview and can make it easier to enter the corresponding commands in the command line. Because Windows creates a new interface for every real or virtual network hardware that you install on the computer. You can see how many are currently available by clicking on "Change adapter settings" in the left column of the Network and Sharing Center. Select a connection and click on “Rename connection” in the line above, enter a new name and confirm it with admin rights.

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