Windows 7 had a Manage Wireless Networks feature that enabled users to save a wireless network profile, complete with its security key, to USB for quick configuration on other computers or accounts. Microsoft curiously removed that utility from Windows 8 and 8.1, so users can no longer extract profiles using a graphical interface. However, the ability to do so in Windows 8.1 exists in the form of textual commands via the Command Prompt.
These commands enable you to back up a single profile, all profiles of a particular interface or all profiles among all interfaces. Saving the XML files to USB allows rapid deployment to multiple computers or accounts. This is especially efficient if the wireless network’s password is complex and lengthy, because it saves you from retyping the password and ensures accuracy.
Backing up Wireless Profiles
1. Right-click the Windows icon and select Command Prompt. Alternatively, search for and select Command Prompt from the Windows search screen.
2. Type the following command at the prompt and press Enter:
netsh wlan show profiles
The resulting list shows the exact profile and corresponding interface names. In the image above, the interface name is “WiFi” and the profile name is “Tenda_1163C8.” If multiple interfaces are present, there would be multiple lists. This step is unnecessary if you plan to back up all profiles under every interface.
- Enter the following command and press Enter:
netsh wlan export profile “ProfileName” key=clear interface=”InterfaceName” folder=”Path”
netsh wlan export profile is the command and always needs to be present.
“ProfileName” specifies the exact profile name to be exported; this name should mirror the name found in the previous step. Omit this part to back up all profiles in a specified interface or all profiles if an interface is not specified.
key=clear includes the password in the backup profile. Omit this part to only export the profile settings, minus the security key.
interface=”InterfaceName” specifies the interface type. Omit this part to back up a specified profile in all interfaces or all profiles if a profile name isn’t specified.
folder=”Path” specifies where the backup should be saved using the format C:\Test.
As another example, to back up all profiles in all interfaces to the directory C:\Test, enter the following command:
netsh wlan export profile folder=”C:\Test”
Restoring Wireless Profiles
1. Press Win-E to open File Explorer and locate the backed up files to ensure you have the correct file names. The names should take the format InterfaceName-ProfileName.XML. If you don’t see “.xml” at the end, your computer isn’t configured to show extensions. That’s fine; just know that the backup file uses the XML extension.
2. Right-click the Windows icon on the other computer or account and select Command Prompt.
3. Enter the following command and press Enter to add a specific profile:
netsh wlan add profile filename=”Path\FileName.xml”
Change Path\FileName.xml to the actual path and backup file name. In the image above, Windows imports the WiFi-Tenda_1163C8 profile from the C:\Test directory.
To only import the profile to the current user, rather than all Windows accounts on the computer, add user=current at the end of the command. Alternatively, add user=all to ensure the profile is added to all accounts.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to import all profiles at the same time, so you need to import them one at a time.