What is Wi-Fi Sense and should you be using it?

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 28, 2015
Updated • Jul 28, 2015

It can be quite frustrating if friends, family members or colleagues want to access the Internet at your place.

While some routers support guest accounts that improve security somewhat, sharing your password with others is the standard and usually not a good idea.

While you can type it yourself on the device the friend is using, there are programs out there that reveal the password once a connection has been established.

Microsoft's Wi-Fi Sense, available as a service in Windows 10 and on Windows Phone 8.1, is an attempt to make the process comfortable. It allows you to share login credentials with friends in the background so that devices get signed in to the WiFi automatically when they visit locations network access was shared for.

Wi-Fi Sense is enabled by default in Windows 10 but it won't just share your credentials with friends automatically.

Whenever you connect to a new wireless network using the device, you get the "share network with my contacts" option in the prompt that opens up.

Contacts in this regard means Outlook, Skype or Facebook contacts and friends, with options to share the information with one, two or all three of the supported services.

Wi-Fi Sense offers no option to pick contacts from a list to allow them to use the feature. If you choose to use the sharing feature, all of the contacts may take advantage of it.

This is a big deal considering that you may not want to grant access to the Internet to some. If you select Outlook for instance, you will share it with all contacts including that one-time contractor, your boss and anyone else who is on your list of contacts.

After you share access to a network with a group of contacts, all the contacts in that group will be able to connect to the network when it's in range. For example, if you choose to share with your Facebook friends, any of your Facebook friends who are using Wi-Fi Sense on a Windows Phone will be able to connect to the network you shared when it's in range. You can't pick and choose individual contacts

While access gets limited to Internet access automatically -- Microsoft notes that contacts only get Internet access and not access to "other computers, devices, or files stored on your home network", it is still something you may not want to do considering that you may be held responsible for the actions of others if they use your Internet connection.

How Wi-Fi Sense information are shared

Information are shared over an encrypted connection. If you select to share access to a network, information required to access it are stored in encrypted form on a Microsoft server.

Contacts who are in the range of the wireless network will receive the information over a secure connection and logged in to the network automatically provided they use a device that supports Wi-fi Sense.

For networks you choose to share access to, the password is sent over an encrypted connection and stored in an encrypted file on a Microsoft server, and then sent over a secure connection to your contacts' phone if they use Wi-Fi Sense and they're in range of the Wi-Fi network you shared. Your contacts don't get to see your password, and you don't get to see theirs.

Microsoft notes that Enterprise networks using 802.1X cannot be shared.

Disabling Wi-Fi Sense

wi-fi sense

To manage Wi-Fi Sense on a device running the Windows 10 operating system, do the following:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key and click/tap on Settings in the Start Menu. If Settings is not displayed, type Settings and hit enter.
  2. Navigate to Network & Internet > Wi-Fi.
  3. Select Manage Wi-Fi Settings on the page.
  4. There you can then disable Wi-Fi Sense and that your device connects automatically to networks shared by your contacts.
  5. You may disable
  6. In addition, you find options to manage networks that you have shared so that you can remove that permission again.

Tip: You may opt out of Wi-Fi Sense on a network by adding _output to its network name.

Should you be using Wi-Fi Sense?

Wi-Fi Sense is a handy feature on first glance. Once you share access to your network with your friends, they'll be able to sign in to it automatically which makes the process comfortable.

You may have two core issues with Wi-Fi Sense. First, that it does not offer granular sharing controls as you can only share the information with all of your contacts or none. While this may work for some users, most may not want to hand over access to their Internet to all of their contacts.

The second issue is that data is stored on Microsoft servers. It is encrypted and transfer to and from the server is encrypted as well, but you may not want the information to be stored on a remote server you don't have full control over.

What is Wi-Fi Sense and should you be using it?
Article Name
What is Wi-Fi Sense and should you be using it?
Find out what Wi-Fi Sense is, what it does, and if you should be using the feature of Windows 10 and Windows Phone 8.1.

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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):


  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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