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Sometimes, when I disable the WiFi on my laptop (Dell D620) an odd ad-hoc network appears labeled as hpsetup.

There's no Internet on it, of course, but it doesn't disappear either. It appeared in both XP and 7. It used to show up in my Ubuntu netbook, but doesn't anymore.

What is it and why is it there?

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3 Answers

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According to HP, HP software that gets installed for a printer – which could be connected via a wired or wireless network – will install HPSETUP just-in-case.

It's how HP keeps an eye out for a wireless printer.

I think they are using it as a network listening device. I use HP printers over a wired network and the software always installs HPSETUP. I believe HP desktops and laptops come preloaded with this software as well.

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HPSETUP originated from HP wireless printers, which create an ad-hoc network called HPSETUP for you to send jobs to the printer wirelessly. A strange bug in how Windows XP handles ad-hoc networks causes your computer to re-broadcast ad-hoc SSIDs sometimes if you have ever attempted to connect to them. What likely happened is that you connected to the HPSETUP SSID once (possibly by accident), your XP computer then started rebroadcasting it (even though the network isn't actually accessible, it broadcasts the SSID), and then your other computers would see it sometimes as well. In short, Windows handles ad-hoc networks very strangely.

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That sounds like a very plausible theory, but I don't live within 5 miles of an HP Wireless printer, and never touched one, much less connected to one. Also, this also happens in Windows 7, so unless they never fixed it (quite possible) it shouldn't happen. Great theory though. –  digitxp Aug 23 '10 at 20:59
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Interesting. This is the explanation I've seen various times, and I've personally observed the weird ad-hoc behavior in general, but there must be more than one way that HPSETUP gets out there. I'm interested to hear what you eventually find out! –  nhinkle Aug 23 '10 at 22:48
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Could be a HP printer but also a viral SSID. See here for an explanation.

Can this viral SSID be stopped?

Yes, but others exist like linksys, hpsetup, tmobile, default. Any SSID that tends be the default for consumer grade access points and computers tends to become viral ad hoc SSIDs. An easy way to reduce the risk of connecting to these SSIDs is to configure Wireless Auto Configuration to only connect to access points (infrastructure networks).

  1. Click on the Wireless option in the System Tray and open the Wireless Network Connection window.
  2. Click on “Change advanced settings”.
  3. In the Wireless Network Connection Properties window, click on the Wireless Networks tab.
  4. Click on the Advanced button.
  5. Click on “Access point (infrastructure) networks only”
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It's on when I disable my adapter. –  digitxp Dec 19 '10 at 5:45
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