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My vista laptop catches wifi fine here. But when I plug in a lan cable (for a separate pc-to-pc connection), the wifi stops working (page loads timeout). Any idea why? It seems vista thinks I'm plugging in an internet connection, so it stops using wifi and tries to use the LAN connection for internet, then fails.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Vista supports only one internet connection, and in addition has the annoying habit of always preferring wired connections over non-wired, on the supposition that they are faster (have better metric).

See this article for a solution with many screenshots :
"Windows Vista Multiple Networks: Wireless To Public WIFI and Wired To Private LAN".

The basic solution is to use the command:

route delete 0.0.0.0 IF 11

where the IF 11 refers to Inteface List # 11 (which is displayed by route print command output, in the Interface List section).

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@harrymc, does it remember this setting after reboot? –  hyperslug Sep 30 '09 at 8:36
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I think I read somewhere that Vista does remember routing changes, contrary to XP that forgets. Maybe the OP can confirm that. –  harrymc Sep 30 '09 at 8:57
    
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For those using XP, this one "sticks":

Start -> Run -> ncpa.cpl -> right-click wireless NIC -> Properties
Internet Protocol -> Properties -> Advanced
uncheck Automatic metric
Interface metric: 10
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