Connecting a Laptop to Multiple Networks


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Having a notebook or laptop provides the freedom to be truly mobile. You can work in many places and situations. But this brings an annoyance: if you move your notebook between various different networks, you always have to change network settings.

Recently my employer has issued me a brand new notebook. When I came home at the end of the day, I had to disable DHCP, set up an IP-address and DNS configuration. Next morning I needed to reverse my configuration to work at my office. The real headache began when I went to our customer site. . .


There are three ways to switch a notebook between networks with one click. First is to use a built-in windows feature of saving and loading network settings. This way is for experienced users. Second is by using Windows XP “alternate configuration" feature. The third way is to use third-party utilities like Net Profile Switch, IPSwitch etc. Let's discuss all three.


Windows 2000 comes with the “netsh" utility that gives you the possibility to “dump" all network settings into a file which you can later use to restore your complete Network settings.

To Save the current Settings use “netsh -c interface dump >netset1. txt" To Load the Settings again use “netsh -f netset1. txt"

Create a dump file for every Network that you use (e. g. . , netset2. txt, etc. ) and create a desktop shortcut for every Network.

Pros: - Cons: hard for inexperienced users, does not deal with switching a proxy server in a web-browser, mapping network drives etc.


Windows XP contains the “Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) properties" dialog box, which has a tab “Alternate Configuration" in it. You can specify “alternative" settings, which would be used when the “default" settings are not accessible.

Pros: simple Cons: does not deal with three or more networks, no proxy switching etc.


Another way is to use the “Net Profile Switch" utility from Jitbit Software ( This tool creates a profile with your configuration settings, and you can easily switch between locations by activating a profile with one click. Net Profile Switch not only switches the TCP/IP protocol settings but also switches the proxy-server settings of your Web Browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox), Windows Firewall settings and maps/unmaps network drives for each location. There a free non-commercial edition of this tool available.

Pros: multiple locations, proxy settings, drive mapping etc.

Alexander Lee is an IT-consultant, Microsoft Certified Solution Developer, Database Administrator.


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