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At home I often connect my laptop to my Wi-Fi network. However, when I'm near my desk I plug in my Ethernet cable since that gives me a faster connection to the internet. But if I don't disable my Wi-Fi connection, will Windows (7) know to use my faster Ethernet connection? (Side question: is there a way to tell which connection is currently being used?)

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

I was wondering the same thing last week and found this blog post: Windows Prefers Wired Connections

Short answer

Yes, Windows usually defaults to using a wired connection if it's available. Starting with Vista, existing connections are not switched over to the wired connection if they were established on the wireless connection.

The article goes into greater detail and also explains how to tell whether the wired or wireless connection is actually preferred on your specific computer.

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Windows 7 will use the faster ethernet connection, that "feature" has been there since Vista.

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by disabling wireless adapter when you use the wired one, This conserves IP address allocation, reduces security risks, resolves dual interface routing issues, and prolongs battery life.

or you can brigde the wlan and lan connections, this make windows switch automatically to the connected adapter.

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