Disable Wireless Adapters When Connected to a LAN

Recently, I have been trying to figure out how to keep the laptops in our office from grabbing an ip address on the wireless connection when they are plugged into the local lan, thus grabbing two ip addresses, not to mention the security implications. Now, one would think this would’ve been something that would have been thought of early on and included in the operating system, or, at the very least, something you could do with group policy on a domain controller. Nope, at least, as far as I have been able to tell. I’m still a little hopeful that I might be able to figure out some registry keys to change, once I find a better registry monitor than the one I have, maybe I will figure it out.

It is very easy on most laptops to turn off the wireless connection, such as hitting the function key and F2 on Dell laptop, but who wants to rely on users pressing a key or key combinations every time they login to our network, so, an it has to automatically happen when you dock your laptop or plug in an Ethernet cable. Below I am outlining what I did to make it happen on several different laptops, the ones we actually use in the office. Good thing wireless networks don’t get too finicky and work with most Telephone Systems International. Click on the image to see the larger size.

Dell laptops
Dell laptops with a Dell wireless adapter in them are very easy to disable when connected to a wired network, on the adapter there is a setting called “Disable Upon Wired Connect”, all you have to do is go into device manager, find the network adapter and double click it and go to the advanced tab. Enable this setting and it will turn off the wireless card when connected to your lan.

Unluckily for us, most of our Dell laptops have an Intel wireless adapter, such as the PRO 2200BG, and they do not have this feature. You need to install the Dell Quickset utility, get it here, enter your model and search for quickset, and then go into the location profiles setting:

Dell quickset

Next you need to go into the General Mobility Settings and select Modify Settings:

Dell quickset

Then all you have to do is select the Disable Wi-Fi until the Wired connection is terminated under Network Adapter Switching and save it.

Dell quickset

It should work as soon as you plug it into your lan. With an older Dell laptop, such as the very first one I grabbed to work on, a Dell Latitude D800. Once I installed the Quickset program, the setting did not work when using Windows to manage the connection, and the location profiles link was not even available when using the Intel software for the Intel wireless card that came with the laptop. Once I updated to the latest version of the driver, the location profiles link was there, once you change the setting you will need to reboot for the setting to start working.

One more note: The Dell Quickset program installs a control panel app called Internal NIC Configuration or something similar that has settings that say enable or disable the internal nic if it is running on battery and the default is for it to turn it off to save power, so you will need to change that to get it to work properly.

HP Laptops
We have recently started using some HP laptops, more specifically the HP Compaq 6510b, and it is easy to disable the wireless as the program that is used, HP ProtectTools Security Manager, is already installed.

Simply start the program.

HP laptop security tools program

Then click on BIOS Configuration.

HP laptop security tools program

Then click on system configuration and scroll down to the LAN/WLAN Switching option and enable it. A reboot will probably be required.

HP laptop security tools program

IBM/Lenovo Laptops
I broke out my IBM, err, Lenovo X41 Tablet PC tonight to figure out how to disable the wireless adapter when it’s connected to a LAN. Unfortunately, they don’t have a quick and easy way to do it, at least that I can find on their website or the tablet, if anyone knows of one, please drop a comment below telling me what I missed. So, you have to go with the location profiles option, but it’s pretty straight forward. I’ll try to find a laptop as well to see if the setup is similar.

You need to use the ThinkVantage Access Connections program to do this, I would recommend that you download the latest version beforehand, I did before I even tried to do it, so it’s possible that the installed version will for you, especially if its a newer laptop. Start the program:

IBM location profiles setup

Once the program starts, click on locations in the menu at the top and click create new profile. Here are examples of how I set mine up. You just have to decide the profile name, make sure both the wireless and LAN adapters are listed, it should default to listing the Ethernet adapter first.

IBM location profiles setup

Then you have to enter your wireless settings, make sure to enter your security information.

IBM location profiles setup

On the last screen, make sure those two boxes at the top are checked.

IBM location profiles setup

After clicking okay to save it, click on the global settings link under the Configure menu, and make sure the Enable automatic wireless LAN radio control box is checked.

IBM location profiles setup

These last two picks show you that it works when it is connected to the LAN.

IBM location profiles setup

This one shows you what it does after you unplug from the LAN.

IBM location profiles setup

Toshiba Notebooks
I haven’t gotten my hands on a Toshiba notebook yet, but I hear they have a tool called Config Free or something similar that does it.