Connecting and disconnecting from a WiFi network on Windows 10 is pretty easy. All you have to do is open the WiFi networks panel from the WiFi system tray icon, select the WiFi network you want to disconnect from, and click the Disconnect button. With Ethernet, you can disconnect a network by unplugging it. You cannot just disconnect the network while the cable is plugged in. If that’s what you want to do, you’re going to have to disable an Ethernet connection.
Disable An Ethernet Connection
The Settings app in Windows 10 doesn’t have any controls for Ethernet connections. The Control Panel app is where you need to go. Since the current stable Windows 10 build makes it difficult to find Control Panel, your quickest option to open it is to paste the following in File Explorer, and tap Enter.
Control Panel\Network and Internet\Network and Sharing Center
On the left, look for and click ‘Change adapter settings’.
This will show you all the network adapters that are configured on your system and which of them have an active connection. This will include your WiFi network adapter as well as your Ethernet network adapter.
Before you proceed to disabling an Ethernet connection, we need to first address how the networks are named and identified. Normally, if you’re connected via a simple Ethernet cable, the Ethernet adapter will show you the network name. In the screenshot below, you can see the same goes for the WiFi network, and WiFi network adapter.
The WiFi network adapter is the Intel(R) Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 which can be identified by its name but it’s also connected to a WiFi network and you can read the name just above the network card’s name i.e. The Bat Cave. This is how it works for Ethernet if you’re connected to a network via an Ethernet cable however, other Ethernet networks might appear here as well such as a hotspot that you’re connected to via a USB cable. As an example, you can in the image below that Ethernet 2 appears as a second Ethernet interface and the connection is named ‘Fatima’s iPhone’. This is something you need to know so you can correctly identify and disable an Ethernet connection.
To disable an Ethernet connection, right-click it and select Disable from the context menu. You will need Administrative rights to disable an Ethernet connection.
If you disable the Ethernet network adapter, any and all Ethernet connections that connect through it will be disabled. An Ethernet adapter, like a wireless adapter can connect to different networks but if you disable the adapter, it doesn’t matter which network you plug into your system, it will not connect.
To understand this in more simple terms, imagine you cemented the only entrance to your home shut (don’t ask me why), and then tried to order pizza. It doesn’t matter where you try to order the pizza from though, you won’t be able to receive it.