Most modern PCs and laptops come with at least 2 network adapters: Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Ever wondered what would happen if you used them both simultaneously? The adapter that supports faster speeds will be given preference. Although most people use the Wi-Fi network adapter as they are always on the go, how will Windows know which one is the faster one and give preference to it?
Windows 11 comes with an Automatic Metrics feature that is responsible for assigning a metric number to each network adapter based on different parameters. Regardless of the number of adapters a device has, a metric will be automatically assigned to it, even if the adapter is virtual.
Depending on your internet needs, you may sometimes need to override the automatic preferences assigned by Windows to the network adapter. Moreover, you can also manage the priorities of the networks that you connect to using Wi-Fi. This article tells you how to change your adapter and network preferences on a Windows 11 machine.
Before we dive into changing the Wi-Fi network priority and the network adapter priority, let’s learn a bit about what it is and how Windows assigns these metrics.
What is Network Priority
Network priority refers to the usage of a specific network over the others while more than one is available. Not only that, but network priority also defines the backup network to use in case the one with the highest preference is unavailable.
By default, Windows assigns priority to a network connected through Wi-Fi as well as the network adapters on the machine. The reason for prioritizing the adapters is the same as for network priority; where one adapter is used more (when available) than the others.
Windows 11 assigns metrics to every network adapter, which in turn defines its priority.
How does Windows Assign Network Interface Metric Priority
As we mentioned earlier, a feature known as Automatic Metric assigns metrics to each network adapter on the device. These can be both physical and virtual adapters.
By definition, a metric is an integer value assigned to an IP route for a specific network interface. Windows identifies the feasibility of a network, also known as cost, by considering the following parameters:
- Speed of the link
- Number of hops to a specific destination
- Delay time
Taking these factors into account, a metric is assigned to each network adapter by Windows. The lower the metric number, the higher its priority.
Prioritizing network adapters is useful, especially in scenarios where you find multiple adapters connected to the same network. Will Windows send network traffic through an ethernet cable, or via Wi-Fi? An adapter with more speed capability will be preferred over other adapters.
Below is a table that indicates the metrics assigned by Automatic Metric in Windows 11 to the network adapters:
|Less than 500 Kb||75|
|Greater than or equal to 500 Kb and less than 4 Mb||65|
|Greater than or equal to 4 Mb and less than 20 Mb||55|
|Greater than or equal to 20 Mb and less than 80 Mb||45|
|Greater than or equal to 80 Mb and less than 200 Mb||35|
|Greater than or equal to 200 Mb and less than 2 Gb||25|
|Greater than or equal to 2 Gb and less than 10 Gb||20|
|Greater than or equal to 10 Gb and less than 40 Gb||15|
|Greater than or equal to 40 Gb and less than 100 Gb||10|
|Greater than or equal to 100 Gb||5|
To learn more about Automatic Metric in Windows, read this Microsoft document.
You can manually change the assigned metrics to give precedence to one network adapter over the other. This can be useful in scenarios where you would rather give preference to Wi-Fi than the ethernet cable.
How to Change Network Interface Metric in Windows 11 and Windows 10
You can manually change the metric of your network adapters by 2 methods. This can be done for any network adapter. Follow the guide below to change your network adapter’s priority.
Change Network Adapter Priority Through Control Panel
If you would rather change the metric using the Graphical User Interface (GUI) in Windows 11, follow the steps below:
Learn how to change your network adapter name.
- Open the Network Connections page in the Control Panel by typing in ncpa.cpl in Run.
- Now right-click on the adapter whose priority you want to change, and then click Properties from the context menu.
- From the Properties window, click Internet Protocol version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and then click Properties.
- From the IPv4 Properties window, click Advanced.
- From the Advanced window, uncheck the box next to Automatic metric and then manually enter the metric in the text field below. You can enter a metric value depending upon the priority you want to give to this network adapter. For example, if you want to give top preference to the selected network adapter, assign metric value 5. Click OK when done.
- Close the other windows by clicking OK or Close.
- Now repeat steps 2 through 7 to change the metrics of the other adapter(s) as well. Make sure not to assign the same metric value to more than one network adapter.
If these seem like a lot of steps, you can also change the metric values using the Command Line Interface (CLI).
Change Network Adapter Priority Through PowerShell
Follow the steps below to change network adapter metrics using Windows PowerShell:
- Launch Windows PowerShell with administrative privileges.
- Paste the following command to obtain information on your device’s network adapters:
- Note down the interface index (ifIndex) of the network adapter from the list.
- Now use the following command to change the interface metric of the adapter. Replace IFIndex with the interface index and IFMetric with the metric value that you want to assign to the network adapter.
Set-NetIPInterface -InterfaceIndex IFIndex -InterfaceMetric IFMetric
- Now confirm that the new metric has been assigned to the network interface by rerunning the command in step 2.
You have now learned how to change the priorities of the network interfaces on your device. Let us now move on to show you how you can also manage the priorities of the wireless networks your Windows 11 device connects to.
How to Change Wi-Fi Network Connection Priority on Windows 11 and Windows 10
Has it ever happened to you that your computer keeps connecting to the Wi-Fi connection whose wireless router is further than the one which is placed right beside you? It is likely because your Windows is configured to connect to it automatically, disregarding the wireless router which has stronger wireless signals.
Similar to network adapters, you can also change the priority of the wireless networks that your device(s) connect to. This way, you will not have to keep “forgetting” a wireless SSID which your computer connects to automatically, and then reconnect to it when you change your location.
Manually changing your Wi-Fi connection priority is also useful when you want your device to prefer a wireless connection over all others when available, but also automatically connect to the other one(s) in case the one with the highest priority is not available.
There are several ways you can manage the priorities of your Wi-Fi connections.
Enable Automatic Connection when in Range
One way to prioritize a Wi-Fi network is to configure your computer to connect to a wireless SSID automatically when it is available. Of course, this will only happen when your device is in the range of the router’s wireless signal transmission.
This method allows you to prioritize a network over the others. However, when this capability is enabled for more than one Wi-Fi network, all those networks then have the same priority. Therefore, we suggest that you only enable the “Connect automatically when in range” capability for one SSID at a time.
Here is how you can prioritize networks using this technique in Windows 11:
- Navigate to the following:
Settings app >> Network & internet >> Wi-Fi >> Manage known networks
- From there, click on the wireless network that you want to prioritize.
- From the Wi-Fi Properties page, check the box labeled “Connect automatically when in range.”
- Now return to the previous page. Click on all other wireless networks and uncheck the box labeled “Connect automatically when in range.”
After performing the steps above, your computer will now automatically connect to the wireless network you have configured to connect it with, even while other networks are saved on your device.
If you want to assign a different priority to more than one wireless network, we suggest you opt for any one of the methods given below.
Change Wi-Fi Connection Priority from Command Prompt
Unfortunately, unlike the network adapters, the priority for the Wi-Fi networks cannot be assigned using the Graphical User Interface (GUI). Nonetheless, you can still prioritize all known networks. This will allow you to manage which network your device’s Wi-Fi connects to even when all of them are available at the same time.
Follow the guide below to learn how to do so:
- Launch the Command Prompt with administrative privileges.
- Paste the following command to view the names of the known network profiles on your device, and then note down the name of the profile that you want to change the priority of:
netsh wlan show profiles
- Now paste the following command to know the name of your wireless adapter and note it down as well:
netsh wlan show interfaces
- Now that you have the names for the adapter as well as the network, you can use the command below to assign a new priority to it. Replace ProfileName with the name of the network, AdapterName with the name of your wireless adapter, and PriorityValue with a priority number (1 being of highest priority):
netsh wlan set profileorder name="ProfileName" interface="AdapterName" priority=PriorityValue
- Repeat step 4 if you want to assign different priorities for different network profiles on the same network adapter.
Using the command in step 4 above, you can keep the AdapterName constant while changing the PriorityValue for the different ProfileNames and assign different priorities to all of the known networks on your computer.
Change Wi-Fi Connection Priority Using Third-Party Software
The name of the tool implies that it was designed for Windows 10. However, after testing it out thoroughly, we discovered that the tool also functions just as smoothly on Windows 11 as well.
Using this small, portable utility, you can prioritize the known wireless networks on your computer through the GUI. Not only that, but you can also control the auto-connect feature as well as auto-switch (switches to the network automatically when prioritized). Here is how:
- Open this GitHub page for Wlan10 and click on Wlan10.exe to download it.
- When downloaded, double-click the package to run the tool.
- You will now see the app with the known networks already populated. Drag and drop the networks according to the priority that you want to implement (top to bottom).
- Simply close the tool when you are finished with the re-ordered networks. The settings will be saved automatically.
Wifinian is an application installed on your OS which is available to download through Microsoft Store. Once installed, you can access and manage your known networks directly from the menu on the Taskbar.
- Click on this link to open the Wifinian Microsoft Store page, and then click Get.
- From the pop-up, click on Open Microsoft Store.
- The Microsoft Store app will now open. Click Install to get the app.
- The app will now be installed on your device. To prioritize known Wi-Fi networks, click on the Wifinian icon from the Taskbar.
- You can now see the signal strength percentage of each individual Wi-Fi network, which you can use to prioritize your networks. Click on Organize and then click on the network that you want to move in the list. Then click on either Up or Down to move the network in the list. The highest priority is of the wireless network at the top.
- Once the list is finalized, click on Organize again to implement the changes.
At any time, you can click on the Engage button to execute automatic connections depending upon the signal strength, placement of the profile in the list, and its automatic switch setting. The Rush button performs a rescan of available wireless networks at short intervals, delivering optimized network connectivity.
After you have successfully changed the metric of a network adapter, we suggest that you go through all the metrics of all network adapters to ensure that the same value is not assigned to another adapter (accidentally).
Moreover, when network adapter prioritization is combined with Wi-Fi network prioritization, you can increase your internet speed drastically by ensuring that the strongest internet connection is readily available to your computer.
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