Wireless networking, or WiFi, is one of the best and most important technological inventions in recent years. It allows smart phones, tablets, laptops, TVs, media streamers and even vehicles to access a network connection and the internet without wires. The problem with a mobile network connection is every time you connect to a new network it will likely have different settings than the previous connection.
Things like the wireless SSID, whether it’s an ad-hoc connection, the encryption method and the password will be different each time you connect to another WiFi network. It can be frustrating for example, visiting a family member, friend or customer only to find they don’t know the information for their wireless network, or a computer has several wireless network profiles and they need to be transferred to another computer or backed up before a Windows reinstall.
Thankfully it’s entirely possible to backup and restore the information stored in a wireless profile, including the password, encryption type and SSID. Windows can store dozens of different profiles so it’s useful to have a backup of them for future use. Here we show you 6 solutions to import and export the wireless profiles on your computer.
Nirsoft’s WirelessKeyView is a small portable tool which is useful for quickly gathering the profile names and passwords of wireless connections. Another useful feature is the ability to import and export selected wireless profiles to a standard text file. Be aware that some antivirus software will flag this tool as malicious although these are false positives and the tool is safe to use.
To export a profile simply click on an individual profile, drag the mouse over all of them or use Ctrl+click to select multiple entries. Right click and choose Export Selected Items (or press Ctrl+E) then give the text file a name. To add profiles select “Import keys from export file” in the context menu (Ctrl+I) and locate the text file. Do note that all profiles in a text file will be added so if you only want to install one, they will need to be exported individually in the first place. Also, the saved profile passwords are stored in plain text so make sure the text files are kept safe.
We’ve talked about NetSetMan before for configuring and backing up IP address and DNS server profiles. It’s a feature rich program and another thing it can do is manage wireless internet profiles with the ability to import and export. NetSetMan is both installable and portable from the same setup executable file.
After running NetSetMan go to the Tools menu > NSM WiFi Management. This window allows you to create, edit and remove profiles and connect or disconnect WiFi networks. Profile management is incredibly easy and to export simply highlight the profile from the list and click Export to save it to a location of your choice. Importing is even easier as you only have to click the button and locate the XML file. The XML profiles created here are the same as those used by the Windows Netsh command so they are interchangeable.
3. Network Profiles Utility
The author of the well known d7 repair utility also created this tool. Its intended purpose is backing up and restoring wireless network profiles and general network settings while performing repairs on a system. But it can obviously also be used to backup and transfer the profiles to other systems. The program is also a fully portable standalone executable.
On first run you need to configure the program. Uncheck “Restore Automatically and Exit” and also optionally “IP/DNS settings”, leave the profile location blank to save profiles to the current folder. Save & Close the config window then press Export in the main window to backup all the available profiles. They are saved by default in a Network Profiles\computer name folder and the files are the same as the XML configuration files created by the Windows netsh command.
When you press Import all saved wireless profiles will be added back in one go. To import a single profile, go into the Network Profiles folder and copy out those profiles you don’t want to import. Do note that the profiles are save with plain text wireless passwords so you need to keep them safe.
4. WiFi Network Backup Manager
WiFi Network Backup Manager is quite a simple tool that can import and export wireless profiles. Although it only comes as an MSI installer you can extract it with Universal Extractor to make a portable version.
The program will list the available WiFi profiles on the left with the corresponding XML configuration file data to be saved on the right. Simply click on a profile and press Save or use Save All to export all profiles to a single .WiFiBackup file. To import one or more profiles click Load and locate the .WiFiBackup file. It’s all pretty easy and simple to understand and operate.
5. Export and Import WiFi Profiles using a USB Drive and Windows 7
Something which was taken out in Windows 8 and 10 but still remains in Windows 7 is the option to save a wireless profile to a USB device. Using this feature makes it quite easy to transfer wireless settings from one computer to another. A USB flash drive or hard drive is required.
Export a Wireless Profile to USB
1. Go to Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center > Manage wireless networks and double click on the profile you want to export.
2. Click “copy this network profile to a USB flash drive” near the bottom of the properties window.
3. Insert a USB drive into your computer and click Next when the button becomes available. Wait a few seconds while the process is completed. Click Close.
Import a Wireless Profile from USB
1. Insert the USB drive into the computer you want to import the wireless profile to. If you have autoplay enabled on your computer a popup will offer to “Connect to a wireless network”. If not, open the USB device in Explorer and double click on SetupSNK.exe.
2. The wizard will ask if you want to add the saved profile to the wireless network. Click Yes and a success message will show. You can now go and use the wireless connection.
6. Export and Import Wireless Profiles Using Windows Command Line
Some wireless connection utilities are simply front ends for the built in Windows netsh tool which can perform several network related commands. Since Windows Vista it’s also had the ability to configure wireless network settings such as importing and exporting WiFi profiles. Here we’ll show you the basic commands which will work for most users. They are available in Windows Vista – 10.
Open a Command Prompt (Start > type cmd) and enter the following to see which WiFi profiles are present on the system.
netsh wlan show profiles
Export Wireless Profile with Netsh
If you already know the name of the profiles you want to export or there is only a single profile on the system, the above command can be skipped. To export saved wireless profiles use the export command and save to a folder of your choice.
netsh wlan export profile ["profile name"] [key=clear] folder="%userprofile%\desktop"
The above will save all profiles to the desktop in separate XML configuration files. The key=clear argument is optional and saves the WiFi password in the XML as plain text. That is useful if you forgot the password but also not secure so use it only if you really have to. The “Profile name” argument is also optional and only saves the wireless profile you specify.
Import Wireless Profile with Netsh
After you have the the required wireless profiles exported it might be an idea to rename them. The default name could be quite long and is the wireless connection name and then the profile, e.g “Wireless Network Connection-Raymondcc.xml”. Run the following command replacing the path to the XML with the path to your own file.
netsh wlan add profile [user=current] filename="%userprofile%\desktop\raymondcc.xml"
By default the netsh command will import the profile to all users on the system. If you only want to have it visible to the current user include the user=current argument. In Windows 7 the added profile will show in the Manage Wireless Networks window. In Windows 10 it will be Settings > Network & Internet > WiFi > Manage known networks, or by using the netsh show command.
Tip: It’s easy to create a batch script for importing your profile onto any Windows computer with a double click. Simply create a folder, copy the XML configuration file to it and then create a .BAT file with the netsh add command. Add the profile filename to the command without a path, for example:
netsh wlan add profile filename="raymondcc.xml"
It’s also possible to do the same with the export command, just use folder=. as the path to create the XML profile in the same folder as the batch script.
netsh wlan export profile folder=.
We have created two simple WiFi profile batch scripts you can use. One will export all wireless profiles to the current folder on double click while the other will import the selected profile. To import a profile all you have to do is drag and drop an XML profile onto the batch file.