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I can see several (5+) Wi-Fi access points with the same SSID, but different MAC addresses (using InSSIDer). However, my Windows 7 laptop always keeps connecting to one of the APs, and I suspect it's not the best one.

How can I choose to connect to a Wi-Fi access point with a different MAC address? Is there a custom connection manager that allows specifying the MAC address of the preferred AP?

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5 Answers

The short answer is no, you can't. At least, not with any standard solution. The manufacturer of your WiFi card might offer a custom connection manager that offers this functionality, but I've never seen it.

Windows will generally select the strongest signal among access points with the same SSID in the same band. On some WiFi cards, you can tune the "roaming agressiveness" from the device manager. This essentially decides how much better a signal has to be for Windows to switch access points with the same SSID. (You can turn it down if frequent AP changes are disrupting connectivity, and you can turn it up if you're getting stuck on a poor AP.)

One common irritation is that the strongest signal may not yield the fastest transfers. I have this issue myself with one access point that uses a 20MHz bandwidth and one that uses a 40MHz bandwidth. Windows will choose the 20MHz signal if it's stronger even if it yields a lower transfer rate.

However, my advice to you would be to focus on what's causing your issue rather than trying to patch around it. Is Windows choosing the stronger signal? If so, why isn't that working for you?

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You can do this with Intel® PROSet/Wireless Software, but this can only be done if you have Intel® Wireless Adapter. If you have Intel® PROSet/Wireless Software you need to:

  1. Right click light bulb icon in system tray -> "Configure Wi-Fi"
  2. Right click on wanted network and select "Properties"
  3. Write down the wanted BSSID
  4. Press "Close"
  5. Click "Profiles" -> "Manage Profiles" (Ctrl+R) or click "Profiles..."
  6. Select wanted network, and then click "Properties..."
  7. Click "Advanced"
  8. Select "Mandatory Access Point" and enter custom MAC address (same as BSSID)

This worked for me on Dell Latitude E5520. I don't know if there is custom program for all wireless adapters.

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From How To Geek: Change Wireless Network Priority to Make Windows 7 Choose the Right Network First

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/27067/change-wireless-network-priority-to-make-windows-7-choose-the-right-network-first/

Hope this help. Let us know.

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This is when you have multiple different SSIDs and you want to choose which one Windows trys to connect to first. –  evolvd Feb 15 '13 at 8:01
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I had the same problem, and solved it using Passmark WirelessMon software in Win7. You can also use Linux, and configure the AP MAC address very easily. For example, you can try Lubuntu (not Ubuntu), which is quite simple and performant. But one of the first thing to do is to install the proprietary drivers of your video card, because if you don't, your laptop will probably get hotter than with Win7.

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The question was based on windows 7 and not linux –  Heidar Jun 1 '13 at 20:03
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If you see that many access points nearby that all have the same ssid, it's probably running a system by cisco, aruba, meraki, or similar that has a load balancing feature built in.

In other words, you might not be on the access point with the strongest signal, but if not it's probably because many others are on that access point as well, and you'll do better by using a more distant access point. Overriding this choice is more likely to hurt you than help you.

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Possibly, but I'd still like to make the choice by myself (wouldn't be asking if the system worked well to begin with). –  dbkk101 Apr 1 '11 at 4:26
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