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How to use Windows to soft-disconnect a computer from a network?

By Emmanuel Seriki | February 25, 2020 |

greater than 6 minutes

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In Windows 10 build 17763.404 – which corresponds to the Windows version resulting from the installation of the April 2019 Patch released for Windows 10 Version 1809 – Microsoft added a new group policy setting known as the Enable Windows to soft-disconnect a computer from a network setting. In this guide, we intend to examine this particular setting and show you how to configure or use it.

What is the ‘Enable Windows to soft-disconnect a computer from a network’ setting?

The Enable Windows to soft-disconnect a computer from a network setting is the setting that guides Windows behavior or reaction when it realizes that a computer should no longer be connected to a network.

  • If the policy setting in view gets enabled (or turned on), then Windows will always act to soft-disconnect the computer from the network the moment it determines that the computer should no longer be connected to the network.
  • If the policy setting in view gets disabled (or turned off), then Windows will always work to disconnect the computer from the network immediately (an instant or abrupt process) the moment it determines that the computer should no longer be connected to the network.

How does the soft-disconnect setup work?

We can describe the soft-disconnect working process this way:

  • When Windows figures out that the PC should no longer be connected to a specific network, it stays calm and does not act to terminate the connection immediately. After all, abrupt disconnections tend to degrade users’ experience – and they hardly provide noticeable benefits. As a general rule, abrupt disconnections are avoided.
  • Once Windows decides to soft-disconnect an interface, it works to inform the TCP stack that proceedings for the network must be stopped (it should no longer be used). Windows will allow the existing TCP sessions to continue (without interruptions or disruptions). However, new TCP sessions will be permitted to use the interface in view only if they are explicitly bound or if a different interface that routes to the desired destination is unavailable.
  • The message or the notification sent to the TCP stack induces a change in the network status. Network applications then listen for the events (as they occur). Those apps proactively transfer their connections to the network – if the means of doing so exists.
  • Windows works to examine the traffic level on the interface in view every thirty seconds. If the system finds out that the traffic level is above a specific threshold, it takes no action. This way, the current configuration or event allows for ongoing active usage of the interface. File transfer or VoIP call services, for example, continue with their operations.
  • When the traffic goes below the known threshold, Windows acts to terminate proceedings for the interface (the interface will finally be disconnected). Apps that employ long-live idle connections – such as email clients and similar service or management applications – might see their connections get interrupted, but they will be able to reestablish their connections over a different interface.

How to enable or disable the soft-disconnect a computer from a network setting in Windows 10

1. Enabling or disabling the soft-disconnect from a network setting through Group Policy:

If your machine is running the Pro, Enterprise, or Education edition of Windows 10, then you can access the necessary setting in Group Policy and make changes to its configuration. In fact, the procedure we are about to describe involves using the Local Group Policy Editor application and is easily the most straightforward method of controlling the soft-disconnect setup in Windows. We recommend you always use it.

Note: If your device is running Windows 10 Home, for example, then the procedure here does not apply to you because the Group Policy program is not configured for use on your PC (or it does not even exist in your standard operating system environment). In that case, you have to skip this method of enabling or disabling the soft disconnect from a network setting and move to the next one.

Anyway, these are the instructions you must follow to enable or disable soft disconnect on your PC:

  • Press (and hold) the Windows logo button on your keyboard and then tap the letter R key to open the Run app quickly.
  • Once the Run window shows up, you have to fill the text box there with this code: gpedit.msc
  • To run the code, you have to hit the Enter button (or click on the OK button on the Run window).

The Local Group Policy Editor window is supposed to come up now.

  • Here, you must look to the top-left corner of the program window and then click or double-click on Computer to see its contents.
  • Now, you have to navigate through the directories on this path to reach your destination:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Network > Windows Connection Manager

  • Assuming you are at the right place (inside the Windows Connection Manager directory), you have to look to the right pane.
  • From the list of policies there, you have to check for the Enable Windows to soft-disconnect a computer from a network policy.
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  • Double-click on the policy.

The Enable Windows to soft-disconnect a computer from a network window will come up now.

  • These are the changes you can make at any point in time:
  1. To turn on the soft-disconnect setting, you have to click on the radio button for Enabled to select this option (around the top-left corner of the window).
  2. To turn off the soft-disconnect setting, you have to click on the radio button for Disabled to select this option.
  • Now, you have to click on the Apply button and then click on the OK button to save the new configuration for the Enable Windows to soft-disconnect a computer from a network policy.

If you change your mind on the soft-disconnect setting, all you have to do is go through the same steps to get to the Enable Windows to soft-disconnect a computer from a network window, choose the reverse option, and then click on the Apply and OK buttons to save the changes.

2. Enabling or disabling the soft-disconnect from a network setting through the registry:

The procedure we are about to describe applies to all Windows 10 editions. This method of enabling or disabling the soft-disconnect function can be used on Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Education, and other Windows 10 editions because the projected changes are made to the registry, which is a component that exists on all Windows 10 editions.

Well, these are the steps you must go through to enable or disable the soft-disconnect function on your computer:

  • First, you have to launch the Run application. Perhaps, you can do it through the Windows logo button + letter R key combination.
  • Once the small Run window appears, you have to type the following code into the text box on it: regedit.
  • To get Windows to execute the code, you have to hit the Enter button on your keyboard (or click on the OK button on the Run window).

The Registry Editor application window is supposed to come up now.

  • Here, you must look to the top-left corner of the window and then click or double-click on Computer to see its contents.
  • At this point, you have to go through the directories on this path to get to your destination:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ Policies \ Microsoft \ Windows \ WcmSvc \ GroupPolicy

  • Now, you must check the directory you are currently in for the fSoftDisconnectConnections key.

If the key is missing, then you have to create it. Continue with these instructions:

  1. In your current location, you must do a right-click on any spot free of objects on the right pane.
  2. From the list that comes up, you have to click on New and then select DWORD (32-bit) Value. Even if your machine is running the 64-bit version of Windows 10, you still have to select 32-bit DWORD.
  3. Fill the field for Name with fSoftDisconnectConnections and then save the key.
  • Double-click on the fSoftDisconnectConnections key.

The Edit DWORD window for the fSoftDisconnectConnections key will come up now.

  • Well, depending on what you are looking to do, you must perform one of the following tasks:
  1. Fill the box for Value data with 1 – if you want to enable the soft-disconnect function.
  2. Fill the box for Value data with 0 – if you want to disable the soft-disconnect function.
  3. Delete the figure in the box for Value data – if you want to retain your system default configuration for the soft-disconnect function.
  • Click on the OK button to save the changes you just made to the fSoftDisconnectConnections key.
  • Close the Registry Editor application and other active programs.
  • Now, you have to restart your computer to give Windows the chance to take the changes you made into account.

If you change your mind on the changes you made to the soft-disconnect configuration on your computer, then all you have to do is go through the same instructions above to get to the Edit DWORD window for the fSoftDisconnectConnections key, fill the box for Value data with the appropriate figure, save the changes you made, and then restart your PC to finish things. Alternatively, you can always delete the fSoftDisconnectConnections key to force Windows to restore the default configuration for your system.

TIP:

One of the procedures we described involved tasks performed on the registry, so we will use this opportunity to tell you about Auslogics Registry Cleaner. If you ever experience issues with your registry or if you find yourself needing to resolve irregularities affecting your registry, then you will do well to download and run the recommended application. The registry is an incredibly sensitive component in the Windows operating system environment, so you are better off letting the application – which was specifically designed to work on it – handle the issues on your behalf.

Fed up with your slow PC? Tired of waiting for Windows to start up? Take a look at the most common reasons behind poor performance and the best ways to deal with them here.

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