How to see active network connections (windows)

The venerable OS’s Wi-Fi logic allows for advanced network prioritization

How to see active network connections (windows)

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Windows XP reached end-of-life in 2014 and no longer receives critical security or feature updates from Microsoft. We recommend that you upgrade to Windows 10 for the best and safest computing experience. We retain this content on behalf of readers precluded from upgrading.

Windows XP automatically establishes a wireless network connection to Wi-Fi network routers and access points. This feature makes it easier to connect laptops to wireless internet connections and Wi-Fi.

How to see active network connections (windows)

Does My Computer Support Automatic Wireless Network Configuration?

Not all Windows XP computers with Wi-Fi wireless support are capable of automatic wireless configuration. To verify your Windows XP computer supports this feature, you must access its Wireless Network Connection properties:

From the Start menu, open the Control Panel.

In the Control Panel, select the Network Connections option if it exists, otherwise first click Network and Internet Connections and then click Network Connections.

Right-click Wireless Network Connection and choose Properties.

In the Wireless Network Connection properties window, do you see a Wireless Networks tab? If not, your Wi-Fi network adapter lacks Windows Zero Configuration support and the built-in Windows XP automatic wireless configuration feature will remain unavailable to you. Replace your wireless network adapter if necessary to enable this feature.

If you do see a Wireless Networks tab, select it, and then—in Windows XP SP2—select View Wireless Networks. A message may appear on the screen as follows:

Windows cannot configure this wireless connection. If you have enabled another program to configure this wireless connection, use that software.

This message appears when your wireless network adapter was installed with a software configuration utility separate from Windows XP. The Windows XP automatic configuration feature cannot be used in this situation unless the adapter’s own configuration utility is disabled, which is generally not advisable.

Enable and Disable Automatic Wireless Network Configuration

To enable automatic configuration, go to the Wireless Network Connection properties window, select the Wireless Networks tab, and select Use Windows to configure your wireless network settings. Automatic wireless internet and Wi-Fi network configuration will be disabled if Use Windows to configure your wireless network settings is not selected. You must be logged in with Windows XP administrative privileges to turn on this feature.

What Are Available Networks?

The Wireless Networks tab allows you to access the set of available networks. Available networks represent those active networks currently detected by Windows XP. Some Wi-Fi networks may be active and in range but not appear under available networks, such as when a wireless router or access point has SSID broadcast disabled.

Whenever your network adapter detects newly available Wi-Fi networks, you will see an alert in the lower-right corner of the screen allowing you to take action if necessary.

What Are Preferred Networks?

In the Wireless Networks tab, you can build a set of preferred networks when an automatic wireless configuration is active. This is a list of known Wi-Fi routers or access points that you want to automatically connect to in future. Add new networks to this list by specifying the network name (SSID) and appropriate security settings of each.

The order in which preferred networks are listed is the same order that Windows XP will automatically attempt when trying to make a wireless internet connection. You can set this order to your preference, with the limitation that all infrastructure-mode networks must appear ahead of all ad-hoc mode networks in the preferred list.

How Does Automatic Wireless Network Configuration Work?

By default, Windows XP attempts to connect to wireless networks in the following order:

  • First: Available networks that are in the preferred network list (in order of listing)
  • Next: Preferred networks not in the available list (in order of listing)
  • Finally: Other networks depending on which advanced settings were chosen

In Windows XP with Service Pack 2, each network, even preferred networks, can be configured individually to bypass automatic configuration. To enable or disable automatic configuration on a per-network basis, select or unselect Connect when this network is within range within that network’s Connection properties.

Windows XP periodically checks for new available networks. If it finds a new network listed higher in the preferred set that is enabled for auto-configuration, Windows XP will automatically disconnect you from the lesser-preferred network and re-connect you to the more preferred one.

Advanced Automatic Wireless Configuration

By default, Windows XP enables its automatic wireless configuration support. Many people mistakenly assume this means your laptop will automatically connect to any wireless network it finds. That is untrue. By default, Windows XP only auto-connects to preferred networks.

The Advanced section in the Wireless Networks tab in Wireless Network Connection properties controls the default behavior of Windows XP automatic connections. One option in the Advanced window, Automatically connect to non-preferred networks, allows Windows XP to auto-connect to any network on the available list, not just preferred ones. This option is disabled by default.

Other options under Advanced settings control whether auto-connect applies to infrastructure mode, ad-hoc mode, or both types of networks. This option can be changed independently from the option to connect to non-preferred networks.

Is Automatic Wireless Network Configuration Safe to Use?

The Windows XP wireless network configuration system limits automatic connections by default to preferred networks. Windows XP will not automatically connect to non-preferred networks such as public hotspots, for example, unless you specifically configure it to do so.

My Internet connection has been slow lately, and I think it might be a possible attack. A friend has told me to use Wireshark, but it is a big install, and I do not have the time to learn how to use it. Is there an easier way to see all the connections on my PC so I can take further action?

How to see active network connections (windows)

6 Answers 6

You are looking for the netstat command. This command should provide what you’re looking for:

if you would also like to see what programs are using the specified ports you can use:

to use the netstat program:

  • Go to the start menu (or press Win + r and skip to step 3)
  • If on XP, click “Run”, If on vista or later, search for cmd in the search box and skip to step 4.
  • type cmd
  • after cmd opens, type netstat -a
  • a list of all open connections with their ports will be displayed

more info about netstat:

I would also recommend running Autoruns and Process Explorer, also in the Sysinternals Suite to help diagnose your problem.

If you’re looking for a simple look at which connections are hungry on Windows 7 onwards, then bring up Task Manager, Performance tab, Resource Monitor, Network tab.

Prio (http://www.prnwatch.com/prio.html) can provide, as part of the Windows Task Manager, an updating list connections with some additional context that may help you make sense of what is going on.

You can see the active ports aligned with the processes in use.

It adds a lot of functionality to the task manager and it is all contained in one area.

I am not a computer scientist but I find that netstat is a bit slow and many connections pass through unrecorded, wireshark is fast but has too many packets to filter through and windows resource monitor is too hard to look through the list to see who is making connections.

How to see active network connections (windows)

Your PC makes lots of Internet connections in a day’s business, and not all of them are necessarily sites you’re aware connections are happening with. While some of these connections are harmless, there is always a chance that you have some malware, spyware, or adware using your Internet connection in the background without your knowledge. Here’s how to see what’s going on under the hood.

We’re going to cover three ways you can view your PC’s active connections. The first uses the good old netstat command from PowerShell or the Command Prompt. Then, we’ll show you two free tools—TCPView and CurrPorts—that also get the job done and may be more convenient.

Option One: Check Active Connections with PowerShell (or Command Prompt)

This option uses the netstat command to generate a list of everything that has made an Internet connection in a specified amount of time. You can do this on any PC running Windows, from Windows XP Service Pack 2 all the way up to Windows 10. And, you can do it using either PowerShell or Command Prompt. The command works the same in both.

If you’re using Windows 8 or 10, fire up PowerShell as an administrator by hitting Windows+X, and then selecting “PowerShell (Admin)” from the Power User menu. If you’re using the Command Prompt instead, you’d also have to run that as an administrator. If you’re using Windows 7, you’ll need to hit Start, type “PowerShell” in the search box, right-click the result, and then choose “Run as administrator” instead. And if you’re using a version of Windows before Windows 7, you’ll need to run the Command Prompt as administrator.

How to see active network connections (windows)

At the prompt, type the following command, and then press Enter.

We’re using four modifiers on the netstat command. The –a option tells it to show all connections and listening ports. The –b option adds what application is making the connection to the results. The –f option displays the full DNS name for each connection option, so that you can more easily understand where the connections are being made. The 5 option causes the command to poll every five seconds for connections (to make it more easy to track what is going on). We’re then using the piping symbol “>” to save the results to a text file named “activity.txt.”

After issuing the command, wait a couple of minutes, and then press Ctrl+C to stop the recording of data.

How to see active network connections (windows)

When you’ve stopped recording data, you’ll need to open the activity.txt file to see the results. You can open the file in Notepad immediately from the PowerShell prompt by just typing “activity.txt” and then hitting Enter.

How to see active network connections (windows)

The text file is stored in the \Windows\System32 folder if you want to find it later or open it in a different editor.

How to see active network connections (windows)

The activity.txt file lists all processes on your computer (browsers, IM clients, email programs, etc.) that have made an Internet connection in the time during which you left the command running. This includes both established connections and open ports on which apps or services are listening for traffic. The file also lists which processes connected to which websites.

If you see process names or website addresses with which you are not familiar, you can search for “what is (name of unknown process)” in Google and see what it is. It’s possible we’ve even covered it ourselves as part of our ongoing series explaining various processes found in Task Manager. However, if it seems like a bad site, you can use Google again to find out how to get rid of it.

Option Two: Check Active Connections By Using TCPView

How to see active network connections (windows)

The excellent TCPView utility that comes in the SysInternals toolkit lets you quickly see exactly what processes are connecting to what resources on the Internet, and even lets you end the process, close the connection, or do a quick Whois lookup to get more information. It’s definitely our first choice when it comes to diagnosing problems or just trying to get more information about your computer.

Note: When you first load TCPView, you might see a ton of connections from [System Process] to all sorts of Internet addresses, but this usually isn’t a problem. If all of the connections are in the TIME_WAIT state, that means that the connection is being closed, and there isn’t a process to assign the connection to, so they should up as assigned to PID 0 since there’s no PID to assign it to.

This usually happens when you load up TCPView after having connected to a bunch of things, but it should go away after all the connections close and you keep TCPView open.

Option Three: Check Active Connections By Using CurrPorts

How to see active network connections (windows)

You can also use a free tool named CurrPorts to display a list of all currently opened TCP/IP and UDP ports on your local computer. It’s a bit more focused tool than TCPView.

For each port, CurrPorts lists information about the process that opened the port. You can close connections, copy a port’s information to the clipboard, or save that information to various file formats. You can reorder the columns displayed on the CurrPorts main window and in the files you save. To sort the list by a specific column, just click on the header of that column.

CurrPorts runs on everything from Windows NT up through Windows 10. Just note that there is a separate download of CurrPorts for 64-bit versions of Windows. You can find more information about CurrPorts and how to use it on their website.

Applies to: Windows Server (Semi-Annual Channel), Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012

Displays active TCP connections, ports on which the computer is listening, Ethernet statistics, the IP routing table, IPv4 statistics (for the IP, ICMP, TCP, and UDP protocols), and IPv6 statistics (for the IPv6, ICMPv6, TCP over IPv6, and UDP over IPv6 protocols). Used without parameters, this command displays active TCP connections.

This command is available only if the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) protocol is installed as a component in the properties of a network adapter in Network Connections.

Syntax

Parameters

Parameter Description
-a Displays all active TCP connections and the TCP and UDP ports on which the computer is listening.
-b Displays the executable involved in creating each connection or listening port. In some cases well-known executables host multiple independent components, and in these cases the sequence of components involved in creating the connection or listening port is displayed. In this case the executable name is in [] at the bottom, on top is the component it called, and so forth until TCP/IP was reached. Note that this option can be time-consuming and will fail unless you have sufficient permissions.
-e Displays Ethernet statistics, such as the number of bytes and packets sent and received. This parameter can be combined with -s.
-n Displays active TCP connections, however, addresses and port numbers are expressed numerically and no attempt is made to determine names.
-o Displays active TCP connections and includes the process ID (PID) for each connection. You can find the application based on the PID on the Processes tab in Windows Task Manager. This parameter can be combined with -a, -n, and -p.
-p

Remarks

The netstat command provides statistics for the following:

Examples

To display both the Ethernet statistics and the statistics for all protocols, type:

To display the statistics for only the TCP and UDP protocols, type:

To display active TCP connections and the process IDs every 5 seconds, type:

To display active TCP connections and the process IDs using numerical form, type:

Troubleshoot a non-working network without rebooting

How to see active network connections (windows)

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What to Know

  • Disable: Control Panel >Network & Internet >Network and Sharing Center >Change adapter settings. Right-click [network] >Disable.
  • Enable: From the same Network Connections screen, right-click the network and choose Enable.
  • Before disabling a network connection, save any open web-based files so that you don’t lose your work.

If your internet isn’t working, disable and re-enable the connection to reset the network-specific functionality without rebooting the computer. This reset may clear certain kinds of network problems just like a full reboot would. In this guide, we show you how to disable and enable a network connection on any device with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, or XP.

How to Disable A Network Connection

Disabling and re-enabling network connections is done through Control Panel.

In Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista, select Network & Internet. Alternatively, you can right-click the internet icon in the taskbar (next to the clock) and select Open Network & Internet settings.

In Windows XP, change to Category view, select Network and Internet Connections > Network Connections, then skip to Step 4.

If your Control Panel doesn’t look like the screenshot below, instead having a bunch of icons, try looking for Network and Sharing Center; if you find it you can skip right to Step 4.

How to see active network connections (windows)

Select Network and Sharing Center.

How to see active network connections (windows)

Select Change adapter settings. In Windows Vista, choose Manage network connections.

How to see active network connections (windows)

In the Network Connections screen, right-click or tap-and-hold the connection you want to disable, then select Disable. The icon for the connection turns grey to show that it’s disabled.

How to see active network connections (windows)

If Disable doesn’t appear in the menu, the connection is disabled.

If prompted, confirm the action, or enter an admin password if you’re not logged in as an administrator.

The internet connection is disabled.

How to Enable A Network Connection

Enabling a network connection is similar, but you’ll use the Enable option instead.

Repeat Steps 1, 2, and 3 (from above) to access the Network Connections screen.

Right-click or tap-and-hold the connection you want to enable, and choose Enable.

How to see active network connections (windows)

If prompted, enter an admin password or confirm the action.

The icon is no longer gray, indicating that the connection is enabled.

I can see only the active network. Everytime i connect my iphone with personal hotspot enabled a new network is created in my connections. Currently its network 17. I can only see that network. I want to delete the other 16 networks. Can someone help me?

Thanks n regards
Nitin

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At a command prompt type: secpol.msc

This brings up the local security policy window

In the left pane click once on “Network List manager Policies”

Then, in the right pane, you will see your networks listed. There are none to delete here, usually, but you can rename “Network 12” to whatever you like:

Right click on the network you wish to rename

–under “Name” choose the Name bullet and enter your network name in the box.

You can also set icons here and set it as private or public, etc.

Windows wants to manage everything for you so this is what you get unless you really want to troll through the registry.

At the command prompt type: regedit

This is your key location:

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How to see active network connections (windows)

Whenever an application wants to make itself accessible over the network, it claims a TCP/IP port, which means that port can’t be used by anything else. So how do you check open ports to see what application is already using it?

An IP address specifies a computer—or other network device—on a network. When one device sends traffic to another, the IP address is used to route that traffic to the appropriate place. Once the traffic reaches the right place, the device needs to know which app or service to send the traffic on to. That’s where ports come in. If the IP address is akin to a street address on a piece of mail, the port is something like the name of the person at that residence who gets the mail. For the most part, you don’t need to worry about ports. But once in a while, you might encounter an app that’s set to listen for traffic on the same port that another app already has in use. In that case, you’ll need to identify the app that already has that port in use.

There are a number of ways to tell what application has a port locked, but we’re going to walk you through a couple of built-in ways that use the Command Prompt, and then show you a great freeware application that makes it even easier. All these methods should work no matter which version of Windows you use.

Use Built-In Tools to See What is Listening on a Port

We’ve got two commands to show you. The first lists active ports along with the name of the process that’s using them. Most of the time, that command will work fine. Sometimes, though, the process name won’t help you identify what app or service actually has a port tied up. For those times, you’ll need to list active ports along with their process identifier numbers and then look those processes up in Task Manager.

Option One: View Port Use Along with Process Names

First, you’ll need to open the Command Prompt in administrator mode. Hit Start, and then type “command” into the search box. When you see “Command Prompt” appear in the results, right-click it and choose “Run as administrator.”

How to see active network connections (windows)

At the Command Prompt, type the following text and then hit Enter:

After you hit Enter, the results may take a minute or two to fully display, so be patient. Scroll through the list to find the port (which is listed after the colon to the right of the local IP address), and you’ll see the process name listed under that line. If you’d like to make things a little easier, remember that you can also pipe the results of the command to a text file. You could then just search the text file for the port number you’re after.

Here, for example, you can see that port 49902 is tied up by a process named picpick.exe. PicPick is an image editor on our system, so we can assume the port is actually tied up by the process that regularly checks for updates to the app.

How to see active network connections (windows)

Option Two: View Port Use Along with Process Identifiers

If the name of the process for the port number you’re looking up makes it difficult to tell what the related app is, you can try a version of the command that shows process identifiers (PIDs) rather than names. Type the following text at the Command Prompt, and then hit Enter:

The column at the far right lists PIDs, so just find the one that’s bound to the port that you’re trying to troubleshoot.

How to see active network connections (windows)

Next, open up Task Manager by right-clicking any open space on your taskbar and choosing “Task Manager.”

How to see active network connections (windows)

If you’re using Windows 8 or 10, switch to the “Details” tab in Task Manager. In older versions of Windows, you’ll see this information on the “Processes” tab. Sort the list of process by the “PID” column and find the PID associated with the port you’re investigating. You might be able to tell more about what app or service has the port tied up by looking at the “Description” column.

How to see active network connections (windows)

If not, right-click the process and choose “Open file location.” The location of the file will likely give you clues as to what app is involved.

How to see active network connections (windows)

When Once you’re there, you can use the End Process, Open File Location, or Go to Service(s) options to control the process or stop it.

Use NirSoft CurrPorts to View What is Listening on a Port

If you aren’t really the Command Prompt type—or you’d rather just use a simple utility to do all this in one step—we recommend the excellent freeware CurrPorts utility by NirSoft. Go ahead and download the tool. Just make sure you get the right version (the regular version is for 32-bit Windows and the x64 version is for 64-bit Windows). It’s a portable app, so you won’t need to install it. Just unzip the download folder and run executable.

In the CurrPorts window, sort by the “Local Port” column, find the port you’re investigating, and you can see everything—the process name, PID, port, the full path to the process, and so on.

How to see active network connections (windows)

To make it even easier, double-click on any process to see every single detail in one window.

How to see active network connections (windows)

When you’ve determined what app or service has the port you’re investigating tied up, it’s up to you how to handle it. If it’s an app, you may have the option to specify a different port number. If it’s a service—or you don’t have the option to specify a different port number—you’ll likely have to stop the service or remove the app.

netstat is a command-line network tool that is a handy troubleshooting command. Its cross-platform utility means you can use it on Linux, macOS, or Windows.

netstat can be very handy in the following.

  • Display incoming and outgoing network connections
  • Display routing tables
  • Display number of network interfaces
  • Display network protocol statistics

Let’s get it started…

Show all connections

To start with netstat, let’s see the command that displays all connections.

Type the above command and hit enter. You will see all the active connections from different states as shown below.

You will see a header with Proto, Local Address, Foreign Address, and State. Let’s see brief info about them.

  • Proto – defined the protocol type (TCP, UDP, etc. ) of the socket.
  • Local Address – displays your computer IP address and port, local end of the socket.
  • Foreign Address – displays remote computer that your computer is connected to, the remote end of the socket.
  • State – defines the state of the socket (LISTENING, ESTABLISHED, CLOSE_WAIT, TIME_WAIT).

We can filter the connections in different ways. Let’s see them.

Show only established connection

We have seen the state in the connection information. You can use below syntax to view all established connections from/to your Windows server.

Note: to view LISTEN, CLOSE_WAIT, TIME_WAIT you can just use as follows.

To see the connections that are in LISTENING state change ESTABLISHED keyword in the previous command to LISTENING. You will get the information about connections that are in the listening state as follows.

Similarly, run the following command to see all the connections that are in CLOSE_WAIT state.

Finally, use the TIME_WAIT flag to get information about all the connections that are in TIME_WAIT state.

Show PID used by port number

Every connection is a process internally. And every process has an ID, and its called PID. We can see the PID of every socket connection using the following command.

The above command displays all the connections with PID. Let’s run the command and see how we get the result.

We got an extra column called PID. And its the process identifier.

A very handy when you have to find out which PID is using the particular port number.

You can see the following info if you use the above command.

Show statistics of all protocols

Useful when you have to find out for any received header error, received address error, discarded packet, etc. It will list out statistics from IPv4, IPv6, ICMPv4, ICMPv6, TCP, UDP, etc.

You will see the statistics of all protocols as shown below.

To find out any errors quickly you can use syntax.

The above command filters all the errors from statistics of all protocols.

Show routing information

To display Route Table, you can use the below syntax. The following syntax will also list all interfaces.

If you use the above command, then you see the info about routing as shown below.

Show Interface Statistics

To view the status of all interface, you can use the following syntax. This will display Received & Sent details.

Show Fully Qualified Domain Name of foreign address (remote host)

If you are tracking some issues and would like to know FQDN of the remote host, then you can use the following syntax.

If you run the above command, then you will see a similar result as follows.

Note: you can combine findstr syntax to show precise results like below.

The above command will filter the connections and displays only established connections. Let’s see an example.

We can filter the connections using the domain with the following command.

Specify the domain in the command and you will see the filtered connections as follows.

I hope this helps you get familiar with netstat command usage on Windows. If you are interested in learning Windows administration then I would suggest checking out this course.