About Wi-Fi Sense

To get you on the Internet more quickly in more places, Wi-Fi Sense automatically connects you to open Wi-Fi hotspots it knows about through crowdsourcing. Even if it’s turned off, you can still connect to Wi-Fi networks on your own. Wi-Fi Sense is in Windows 10 to get you connected faster, so you can do what you want online.

How it works

You first choose Wi-Fi Sense settings when you set up your PC with Windows 10 or your phone with Windows 10 Mobile, either in Express settings or in Customize. To use Wi-Fi Sense after that, you’ll need to be signed in with your Microsoft account on your Windows 10 PC or mobile device. (Note that Wi-Fi Sense isn't available in all countries or regions.)

Wi-Fi Sense learns about open Wi-Fi hotspots your Windows PC or Windows phone connects to by collecting information about the network, like whether the open Wi-Fi network has a high quality connection to the Internet. By using that information from your device and from other Wi-Fi Sense customers' devices, Wi-Fi Sense builds a database of these high quality networks. When you’re in range of one of these Wi-Fi hotspots, you automatically get connected to it.

Sometimes, you’ll be in range of a few Wi-Fi networks at the same time. When this happens, Wi-Fi Sense uses several different factors to find the best one to connect you to. 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, and if it's provided by your mobile operator. Wi-Fi Sense also considers the signal strength and quality of the network to try to give you the best Wi-Fi connection at that time.

How we help keep your data safe

Protecting your home or business network

If you don't want Wi-Fi Sense to connect people to your open Wi-Fi 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". You might choose to do this if you have a Wi-Fi network at home or at a small business, but you don’t want to allow Wi-Fi Sense to automatically connect people to it.

Connecting to open networks

An open network is a Wi-Fi network that doesn't require a password to connect, which means that anyone can connect to it, and other people might see info you send over the network. Many public Wi-Fi hotspots are open networks you find when you’re out and about. There are lots of things you might feel comfortable doing on open Wi-Fi, like browsing the web, catching up on news, watching videos online, listening to streaming music, or checking social networks. Be careful using an open network to do something online that requires sensitive or personal information, such as banking or buying things online.

Even when a Wi-Fi network requires a password or certificate to connect, other people on the network or Internet can 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 on the address bar in Microsoft Edge.

When you're 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. If your PC has a cellular data connection, you can turn off Wi-Fi while you're doing something that requires sensitive info.

Wi-Fi Sense and location

To find Wi-Fi hotspots to suggest, Wi-Fi Sense has to know where you are. To do this, Wi-Fi Sense uses the Windows 10 location service, which can be turned on or off for your device.

As long as Location for this device is on in Settings > Privacy > Location location-icon on your PC, Wi-Fi Sense can look for open hotspots near you, even if Location service is turned off for your user account. (Only administrator accounts have access to the Location for this device setting.)

On your phone, Wi-Fi Sense can’t discover your device location if you have Location service turned off in Settings > Privacy > Location location-icon.

For more info about Windows 10 location service, see Windows 10 location service and privacy.

How to control Wi-Fi Sense

Wi-Fi Sense may have been turned on or off when your Windows 10 device was first set up, either by choosing Express settings, or by turning on Automatically connect to suggested open hotspots. Not all networks are secure.

To check your Wi-Fi Sense setting

  1. On your PC, go to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi. On your phone, go to Settings > Network & wireless > Wi-Fi > Wi-Fi Sense.
  2. Check to see whether Connect to suggested open hotspots is turned on. If it is on, Wi-Fi Sense will automatically connect you to suggested open Wi-Fi hotspots.
  3. Notes

    The service that was used to share networks with Facebook friends, Outlook.com contacts, or Skype contacts is no longer available. However, if you’re still running Windows 10 (version 1511):

    • The Connect to networks shared by my contacts setting will still appear in Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > Manage Wi-Fi settings on your PC, and in Settings > Network & wireless > Wi-Fi > Wi-Fi Sense on your phone. However, this setting will have no effect now. Regardless of what it’s set to, networks won’t be shared with your contacts. Your contacts won’t be connected to networks you’ve shared with them, and you won’t be connected to networks they’ve shared with you.
    • Even if you selected Automatically connect to networks shared by your contacts when you first set up your Windows 10 device, you still won’t be connected to networks your contacts have shared with you.
    • If you select the Share network with my contacts check box the first time you connect to a new network, the network won’t be shared.

    If you’re running Windows 10 (version 1607), the sharing settings mentioned in the list above will not appear. To find out what version of Windows 10 you have installed on your PC, go to Settings > System > About, and then look at the number next to Version. On your phone, select Settings > System > About > More info to find the version number.

To change your Wi-Fi Sense setting

  1. On your PC, go to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi. On your phone, go to Settings > Network & wireless > Wi-Fi > Wi-Fi Sense.
  2. Under Wi-Fi Sense, change Connect to suggested open hotspots if you like.

To prevent an open Wi-Fi network you manage from being used with Wi-Fi Sense

If you have an open network at your home or small business and you want to make sure Wi-Fi Sense doesn’t automatically connect Wi-Fi Sense customers to it, change the name of your network to add _optout to the name of your network. For example, you could change your network name from “my_network” to “my_network_optout”.

It can take several days for your network to be added to the opted-out list for Wi-Fi Sense, so Wi-Fi Sense customers might still be automatically connected to it for a while after you add _optout to the name. If you want to stop Wi-Fi Sense from connecting customers to it sooner than that, add a password to your Wi-Fi network. For instructions about how to change your network name or add a password, check the documentation for your router or access point.