Wireless vs LAN priority

Not sure if I can even explain this correctly, but I am hoping someone can either answer this or point me in a good direction for an answer.

What governs which connection a computer is going to use if both are available?  i.e. connected to wireless and also plugged in to the hardwire network?

Scenario:
Typical laptop setup that has integrated wireless and an internal NIC.  User is configured for wireless use on the network and always has the wireless card enabled.
There are a few applications that are network installs and can hog huge amounts of bandwidth.  For this reason the user will disable the wireless card while physically wired to force the machine to use the hardwire LAN.

I was under the assumption that the computer would attempt to use the faster more reliable connection when it could.  It looks like this is a gross concept of error.  What I have found, at least on my particular laptop, is that whenever I have a wireless signal available, my machine will use it no matter what.

So, my question, is what makes the wireless connection the seemingly default connection?

Is there a way to change this so the default and primary connection to use is the hardwire NIC?  If the NIC were to be the "master" so to speak, then as long as you plugged in, you would run off the internal NIC, only when you unplugged and went mobile would it utilize the wireless connection.  That is what I am trying to ensure always happens.

Any thoughts here?

TIA

kkohl
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kkohlAsked:
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lrmooreConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Yes. It has to do with the default gateway settings. Assuming that the laptop is XP, there is an option under TCP/IP , advanced, [ ] Automatic metric. If this is checked, then each possible gateway should get a different metric. XP uses 20 for high speed LAN, 30 for next higher speed, etc. Lowest number gets priority.
You can also set a manual metric. Under each adapter TCP/IP settings, uncheck the auto metric and put in something like 50 on the wireless and 10 on the wired. That should do the trick.

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PennGwynCommented:
There are three factors which may be relevant:

1.  I think under the file-sharing properties, you can adjust the order in which interfaces are bound to NetBIOS.  

2.  There can only be one active default gateway/route.  If your wireless connection doesn't have one, the wired connection will be used for all routed (non-local) traffic.

3.  Microsoft probably assumes that if you have a temporary/intermittent connection, it's only active when you want it to be preferred.  This works great for dial-up....

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kkohlAuthor Commented:
Wow, I forgot all about metrics.

Yes, this sounds right on.  I am going to test for a bit now.
Will report back soon.

Thanks!

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kkohlAuthor Commented:
lrmoore, that did the trick.

Thanks!
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