So you’ve followed best security practice and set up a new wireless network – with a really long and complex password?
Now you have to go round all your computers, find the network and laboriously type this password in – and do this every time you buy a new laptop, wireless adapter or reinstall Windows.
But it doesn’t have to be that time consuming – Windows 7 makes it easy to backup your wireless network settings (including the password) to a USB flash drive.
You can use that flash drive to quickly restore those network settings to any Windows computer – whether it runs XP, Vista or Windows 7. The backup could also save the day if you forget your wireless password – just use the flash drive to import the original settings (and the actual password is stored in a text file so you can find that out too).
To backup wireless settings on a Windows 7 computer which is already connected to your wi-fi network:
- Open the Network and Sharing Center by clicking the wireless icon in the system tray and choosing ‘Open Network And Sharing Center’ [alternatively, open it from Control Panel \ Network and Internet \ Network and Sharing Center]
- In the left panel, select ‘Manage wireless networks’ to display your saved networks:
- Right click on your network and choose ‘Properties’ to open the Wireless Network Properties window:
- Click on ‘Copy this network profile to a USB flash drive’ to display the Copy Network Settings window:
- Insert a USB flash drive and click ‘Next’
Tip: the flash drive does not need much free space – the settings take up less than 100KB which is tiny.
- The settings are now copied to your flash drive:
Tip: if you need to find out your wireless password (forgotten it) click on ‘View more detailed information’ – this opens a text document which reveals your password.
- Click ‘Close’ to finish and then safely eject your flash drive
How To Restore Wireless Settings
Plug the USB flash drive into any Windows computer (XP, Vista, W7) which has wireless capability.
IF an AutoPlay box appears with an option of ‘Wireless Network Setup Wizard’ – select that option and the wizard will automatically connect your computer to the wi-fi network.
If the AutoPlay box does not appear, open the flash drive in (My) Computer and run the setupSNK.exe program file stored on it. You will be asked if you want to add this computer to the network – select ‘Yes’.
A confirmation message appears to confirm that the new wireless connection has been made – click OK to finish.
Repeat these steps to restore the wi-fi settings on any other computers.
AutoPlay may or may not appear when a flash drive is plugged in – many people (and some security programs) will have disabled AutoPlay for better security – to stop any malicious files on the drive from running automatically.
The files backed up to your flash drive are:
- setupSNK.exe – the program to run the restore process
- autorun.inf – used to automatically run the setupSNK.exe program when you plug in the flash drive
- SMRTNTKY folder – contains the files storing the wireless settings
The folder contains a text file called WSETTING.TXT – this displays all your network settings in plain text, including the type of security and password. Print this off for safekeeping if you want a permanent record – it’s also a neat way of finding out your password if you have forgotten it.