Ten Networking Hacks for Your Windows Registry

Our list of networking-related registry hacks will let you keep your computer from showing up in Network Neighborhood on other computers, fine tune 802.1x settings, and even take some of the load off your CPU.

By Eric Geier | Posted Mar 31, 2010
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The Windows Registry is just one of those things we learn to love, and learn to hate. It's a huge, seemingly unorganized and highly sensitive mess of settings that tell Windows how to behave. As you may know, you can tweak Windows, its features, and other programs by making changes to the Windows Registry.

We're going to discuss ten different registry changes or hacks relating to networking. You might discover a few tricks and shortcuts that may save you some time or a headache. Without further ado, here they are in no real particular order:

1. Hide Your Computer From the Network

If file and printer sharing is enabled on a Windows computer, it by default sends announcements in the background to all the other computers. This makes the computer show up in Network or Network Neighborhood. However, with this registry hack, you can hide your computer so others can't browse to it even if you're sharing.

Create or change the "Hidden" DWORD value to "1" at the following location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesLanmanServerParameters

Then you can still access the computer and shares with the Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path in a web browser or windows explorer window: \computernamesharename

2. Display Error Statistics on the Network Connection Status Window

By default, the Network Connection Status window shows the number of packets or bytes received and sent via the network adapter. This can help when troubleshooting by letting you know if any traffic is getting in or out. However, a simple registry hack can give you another piece of information: the number of errors. This can help alert you of network issues.

Create or change the "ShowLanErrors" DWORD value to "1" at the following location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlNetworkConnectionsStatMonShowLanErrors

3. Change Advanced 802.1X Authentication Settings

802.1X authentication helps better protect wired and wireless networks, but it adds another step to the connection process. This added step might have an adverse impact to clients that roam between wireless access points. Fine-tuning the Pairwise Master Key (PMK) and preauthentication settings, however, might help. In Windows XP and Vista, you must configure these settings via registry values.

Start by browsing to the following location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftEAPOLParametersGeneralGlobal

Then you can change the following DWORD values:

PMKCacheMode: Set "1" to enable PMK caching, "0" to disable.

PMKCacheTTL: Number of minutes (5-1440) to keep PMK entries cached, up to 24 hours.

PMKCacheSize: Maximum number of PMK entries (1-255) that can be cached.

PreAuthMode: Set "1" to enable preauthentication, "0" to disable.

PreAuthThrottle: Number of wireless access points (1-16) that the client will try preauthentication with, based on the order of network profiles created in Windows.

4. Remove Cached 802.1X Login Credentials in XP

Windows XP by default saves the login credentials for 802.1X authentication for later connections. Unfortunately, you must modify the Windows Registry to delete this cache in XP, unlike with Windows Vista and 7.

To remove the cached 802.1X login credentials, delete the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftEapolUserEapInfo

5. Enable the Network Adapter's Onboard Processor

Some network adapters have an integrated processor that can run some networking functions instead of passing them on to the main processor. Ideally, this frees up your main CPU for other tasks and increases overall performance. However, this on-board processor capability is turned off by default in Windows XP and requires a registry change to enable.

Create or change the "DisableTaskOffload" DWORD value to "0" at the following location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesTcpipParameters

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