How and why to use random hardware addresses

Applies to: Windows 10

Use random hardware addresses

There's two controls for using random hardware addresses—one is for all Wi-Fi networks and the other is for the specific Wi-Fi network you choose. When you turn it on for all networks, random hardware addresses are used while your PC scans for networks and connects to any network. When it's turned on for a specific network you choose, random hardware addresses are used the next time you connect to that network.

  • Use random hardware addresses for all networks:

    • Select the Start button, then select Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi .

    • Turn on Use random hardware addresses.

  • Use random hardware addresses for a specific network:

    • Select the Start button, then select Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > Manage known networks.

    • Choose a network, then select Properties and choose the setting you want under Use random hardware addresses for this network.

Why use random hardware addresses?

When you're not connected to Wi-Fi, your PC sends a signal to look for Wi-Fi networks in the area to help you get connected. The signal contains the unique physical hardware (MAC) address for your device. Some places, for example shopping malls, stores, or other public areas, might use this unique address to track your movement in that area. If your Wi-Fi hardware supports it, you can turn on random hardware addresses to make it harder for people to track you when your PC scans for networks and connects.