Apr 7, 2016

How to Configure and Manage a Network Bridge Connection on Windows 10


In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to properly setup a bridge connection on your desktop or laptop to allow other devices to join your local network and to access the internet.

When there aren't ports available on the router and Wi-Fi connectivity isn't possible, then use Network Bridge on Windows 10 to join other PCs to the network.

Network Bridge is a feature that has been part of Windows for a long time. A bridge allows you to connect two or more network segments together allowing devices to join the network when it's not possible to connect them directly to a router or switch.

For example, on an Xbox 360 without a wireless adapter, an Xbox One that no longer connects to Wi-Fi, or when a computer is far away from the router, you can use Network Bridge to share your computer's connection (e.g., Ethernet or Wireless) with these devices to allow access the network. Once devices connect using a bridge, they will appear as if they were physically connected to the router.


 

Before you begin

Before you start setting up a bridge connection on Windows 10, you will need at least two network adapters. One that is connected to the internet and a second adapter that will be used to connect another computer.

Additionally, as a result of setting up a bridge on Windows 10 (or on previous versions of the operating system), the primary network adapter on the host computer will lose internet connectivity.

To regain access to the internet, you will need to set a static IP address to your computer manually. The first thing you want to do is to save to a text file the current IP address information assigned by the DHCP server on your local network.

To get the IP address information from your computer follow these steps:
  • Use the Windows key + X keyboard shortcut to open the Power User menu and select Command Prompt.
  • Type the following command and press Enter:
    ipconfig /all
  • Make note of the IP address configuration of the network adapter connected to the internet. You need to record the following information: IPV4, subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS servers addresses.

Note: You can use an IP address dynamically assigned by the DHCP server as static only as a temporary solution. On best practice you should assign an IP address in the range that doesn't belong to the DHCP address pool on your router. For more information on how to find the DHCP server configuration make sure to check your router's manufacturer support website.

 

How to create a Network Bridge on Windows 10

  • Use the Windows key + X to open the Power User menu and select Network Connections.
  • Select both, the network adapter that connects to the internet and the adapter you want to use in the bridge connection.
  • Right-click the selection and click Bridge Connections.


At this point, the device connected to the bridge port should have access to the network and internet with the IP address information coming from the router, but the computer hosting the bridge won't be able to access the internet unless you have a third network adapter that is also connected to the network or a static IP address .

 

How to regain internet access after setting up a bridge connection

To regain access to the internet from the host computer do the following:
  • Use the Windows key + X to open the Power User menu and select Network Connections.
  • Right-click the bridge adapter and select Properties.


  • Select the network adapter that connects to the internet.
  • Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4).
  • Click Properties.


  • Select the Use the following IP address option.
  • Use the IP address information you collected at the beginning of this guide to assign a static IP address like is shown in the screenshot below.


  • Click OK.
  • Click Close to complete the task.

How to add more network adapters to a bridge connection

You're not limited only to offer bridge connectivity to a single network adapter. At any time, you can add multiple adapters.
  • Right-click the network adapter and select Add to Bridge.
  • Connect a game console or another computer and the device will automatically acquire the network settings from the local router.

 

How to remove a bridge connection from your computer

When you no longer need a bridge connection, select one or all the participating network adapters, and select Remove from Bridge.


At this point, the bridge adapter should disappear from Network Connections, but if it doesn't, simply reboot your computer.

The last thing left to do is to remove the IP address static settings and let your PC once again get this information automatically from the router.
  • Right-click the network adapter and select Properties.
  • Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4).
  • Click Properties.
  • Select the Obtain an IP address automatically option.
  • Select the Obtain DNS server address automatically option.

 

  • Click OK.
  • Click Close to complete the task.

Network Bridge or Internet Connection Sharing?

It's important to note that Network Bridge is very similar to the Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) feature, but they're not the same.

When you use Internet Connection Sharing (ICS), you will convert your computer into a router, which uses a built-in DHCP server to assign IP addresses to computers participating in ICS. It also offers Network Address Translation (NAT) that allows multiple devices to connect to the network using the ICS host as the middle man.

On the other hand, Network Bridge doesn't turn the host computer into a router and you won't get Network Address Translation. It only provides a medium (bridge) in which other devices can connect directly to the network and obtain the same IP address scheme every other computer connected to the network is using.



Which feature you should use? The answer to the question is: "depends". Both features offer similar benefits. If your local network already includes a router connected to the internet and you want a seamless network integration where all devices share the same network addressing scheme, then you should consider using Network Bridge.

If you need a router-like feature, and you want to keep the network segments separated while taking advantage of the security benefits of Network Address Translation, then you'll be better suited using Internet Connection Sharing.

In theory, a bridge connection is more efficient, because the host is only a pass-through, and all the routing process will occur in the local router and not on the host computer.

Remember that Network Bridge and Internet Connection Sharing have been designed only for home and small office networks, and for scenarios, where a wireless connection can't be established, or a cable run to the main router or switch is not possible. These features are not recommended as networking solutions for businesses. In addition, there can only be one Network Bridge or one Internet Connection Sharing per-computer.

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