Eric Bergman-Terrell's Blog

Windows 7 Tip: What to Do if Windows 7 is Not Choosing the Fastest Network Connection
January 21, 2012

My main computer is a notebook running Windows 7. The notebook connects to a docking station via USB 2. The docking station has a wired, Fast Ethernet connection (100 Mbit/s). Additionally I have a Wireless G WiFi connection (54 MBit/s). Finally, I have an Ethernet cable that provides a Gigabit Ethernet connection (1 Gbit/s) which I usually don't bother to connect, because the docking station's Fast Ethernet connection is fast enough most of the time.

However, when I backup my NAS drive, I need the fastest network connection available, so I plug in the Gigabit Ethernet cable. After noticing that the backups were running slower than expected, I opened the Windows Task Manager and selected the Network tab. I was surprised to find that the docking station's Fast Ethernet connection was being used, instead of the much faster Gigabit connection.

Windows 7 is supposed to give priority to the fastest network connection, but sometimes it gets it wrong, as happened to me. Here's how to fix this issue:

  1. Go to the Network and Sharing Center (Control Panel / Network and Internet / Network and Sharing Center).
  2. Click the "Change adapter settings" link.
  3. For each network connection, right-click the connection and select Properties
  4. Click Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) (or v6 if you're on IPv6).
  5. Click Properties, then click Advanced...
  6. Make sure the Automatic metric checkbox is cleared.
  7. Enter a unique number, inversely proportional to the connection's speed, in the Interface metric textbox. In other words, enter 1 for your fastest connection, 2 for your next fastest connection, and so on.

Setting the interface metric value to ensure that the fastest network connection is used

Now go to the Windows Task Manager's Network tab and verify that Windows 7 is using your fastest connection in preference to the slower ones:

Verify that Windows 7 is using the fastest network connection

I have the need for speed!

I have the need for speed!

Keywords: Windows 7, Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, Network, Bandwidth, NAS, Task Manager, Network, Interface metric, Automatic metric, Network and Sharing Center

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