How to Fix: Permanently Disable WiFi on Windows 10

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader 'JustRosy' writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I have a laptop that I use daily, and for security reasons I want my WiFi permanently disabled in Windows 10. Unfortunately my Windows 10 laptop WiFi does not have an 'on / off' switch which would disable my WiFi permanently. Instead, I have been using Windows 10 "airplane mode" to disable the WiFi, but this doesn't work 100% of the time because my WiFi seems to activate spontaneously. I am super paranoid about having a WiFi connection because I don't believe there is a 100% secure WiFi, and therefore I don't ever want to use WiFi on my laptop. I have searched Google on how to permanently disable WiFi on Windows 10, but I can't find the answer. Can you please help? "

My response:

It if possible to permanently disable WiFi in Windows 10 by using Device Manager, which I will explain further down.

That said: if you are paranoid about WiFi eavesdropping, you can always use a VPN to protect your Wifi signal. This will effectively encrypt your incoming and outgoing data to and from your device (to the nearest access point), which will then prevent third parties from eavesdropping on your communications. Currently "Private Internet Access" has - by far - the best deal on VPN access if you pay 2 years in advance, which works out to be $41.88 per year. That is super cheap compared to similar services.

Please note that there is plenty of confusion about what VPNs can and can't do. For example, a VPN will not protect you from "being hacked" (I.E.: having your data leaked) should you submit a password on a web form using an unsecure website. In terms of WiFi protection, a VPN will only encrypt your data to and from your machine (to the nearby access point / router), plus it will obfuscate your location / IP address. That is basically all it does. For more information, please refer to article: Explained: Do I need a VPN? Are VPNs Safe for Online Banking?

How to Fix: Permanently Disable WiFi on Windows 10

If you don't want to use a VPN to protect your Wifi signal, the easiest way to permanently disable WiFi on Windows 10 is to disable your WiFi adapter using Device Manager in Windows. Disabling the wireless network card in Device Manager will prevent it from activating your WiFi signal because the driver is effectively disabled for the device.

Others may suggest using the "FCN + F key" to disable WiFi (somewhat similar to the WiFi on / off switch); however, WiFi can re-enable itself on a reboot or power on / off, so I don't recommend this approach. Instead, Device Manager will work the best because the settings are saved in Windows and will remain that way until you undo the change.

Here's how to permanently disable WiFi on Windows 10:

  1. Click Start, then type in "This PC"; wait for "This PC" to appear in the list, then right click it and select "Properties".
     
  2. The "System" window will appear. On the top left, click the "Device Manager" link.
     
  3. The "Device Manager" window will appear. At the top of the window, your computer name will be listed with all the devices attached (or inside) your machine. Scroll through the list until you get to "Network Adapters", then left click the arrow on the left of the title to expand the list.
     
  4. Locate your wireless network adapter in the list, then right click it and select "Disable device".

Your WiFi will now be permanently disabled until you re-enable it.

To re-enable, follow the same steps as above except right click your network adapter and select "Enable device".

I hope that helps.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Comments

ifopackets_10683's picture

For years I've used Internet off, a free program.
crystalrichDOTcom/internetoff/
It has a limited timer or locked full on or off.
I have it on a Win-XP-Netbook so I "can't"
forget and accidently CONNECT... RickG

buzzallnight's picture

most versions of windows
and most hardware
will automatically reinstall the wi fi modem
on the next boot up??????????????

It is called plug and play.

Dennis Faas's picture

This won't happen if the device is already installed, has a driver and is -disabled- by Device Manager as I've mentioned in the post.