Ghosts


Haydon

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I saw a couple of 'Unknown device' in my DSL modem, wondered what they were (even feared nefarious things going on) but found the reassuring quote below, penned by MicroCompsUnltd, a Microsoft Certified Professional. These ghosts can apparently also appear elsewhere in your other than Windows computer(s) and other LAN devices.

So, in my case, I used the 'Forget' button to rid my DSL modem from these harmless ghosts, knowing that they will reappear. Here goes.

"This is not a glitch with Windows. This is in fact by design.

Windows Connect Now searches your network not only for devices that are currently connected, but also for any devices that may potentially be capable to being on your network (if you give them permission.)

These ghost devices in a sense have been on your network, and are continously so. Here's why: Phones and some other WiFi devices, but especially phones, are continously scanning for available networks, even when they are connected to one, to try and find possibly a better one (there's some technical babble of what's they are doing, but basically in laymans terms this is the best way to describe it.) Because of this, your WiFi network is continously being scanned intermittently by these devices, and your WiFi network is acknowledging of course that it is available. This will even occur if your network is a hidden one by the way. This is how a phone (or any other WiFi device for that matter) can actually even begin to connect to a WiFi network.

When you are out and about, and you may need to connect to a WiFi network at say a friends house, or Restaurant even, you first have to pull down the list of available networks to actually connect to it. If you ever notice, depending where you are at that time, there usually is at least one more, and often times, numerous other networks besides the one you're trying to connect to available. Most of the time those devices are listed very quickly for you. This is not because your phone is the fastest searcher in the world. This is because in the background while you were doing other things, or it was in your pocket, it was also searching the area for these, so it could have it available to you at a moments notice. This feature on some phones can be turned off, and those wishing to save battery power even more may look into that, however, that for another post.

The thing is, in order to get the device list, the phone/device sends out a 'packet' of data requesting devices info, that other WiFi devices and routers recognize, and respond to with information that is appropriate, in the case of a router for instance, it SSID (the WiFi network name) and type of security challenge that will be needed if that device wishes to join. The initial sending out the information will almost always include it's MAC address, which is USUALLY assigned to a Manufacturer. I could go on and on about this, however, it's Googly information that is even longer winded than I am.

With Windows Connect Now, it goes and does some further work so you don't have to. It's does similar to what the phone does when you click on the Network in your 'File Explorer', Windows Connect Now, sends out a 'packet/beacon' to not only get a list of the current devices connect to your network, but also 'POTENTIAL' other devices that respond back to it's request via whatever WiFi outlet was available to send the beacon. Also, it reads the logs you usually can not see yourself from a router to see what has within a certain amount of time send out one of those packets, to try and give you the fullest list available of all possible devices you may connect to, if you, and that device BOTH have the proper authority to do so. With Windows Connect Now off/disabled, you only see the actual devices that are currently on your network. In this regard, WCN is not necessary as a feature, so it does not hurt at all to have it off, however, it does make it convenient when you want to connect to a tablet or other WiFi device that really is on your network, or at least you want it to be, then it shows you at a glance if the device itself is at least throwing off it's own beacon.

I know this is long winded, sorry for that, but hopefully in it's entirety it will help someone understand why they see these devices."
 

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barman58

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The main reason I've seen for ghost devices is the simple fact that Router manufactures. use only a few of the network segments that are preallocated in the assigned range used by home users

Basically there are maximum of 256 Segments in the standard range allocated to home / small business users 192.168.0.0 to 192.168.255.0
Major router manufacturers, tend to default to using 192.168.0.0 - 192.168.0.255 or 19.168.1.0 to 192.168.1.255 and the vast majority of users do not set their own ranges.

This is not an issue as the sets are blocked from communications over the main Internet backbone / hubs, however, it's possible if you have more than one router in a small area that overlaps a second router using the same range as the first then devices from either segment can show on either or Both segments. This is quite common in heavily populated urban areas especially as the WiFi ranges are a lot larger than previously

This is perfectly fine as the routers should have different security passwords and will drop any packets that do not originate from their own set of devices.

Of course a lot of users are unaware of this and we often get posts from those who see an unrecognised device and instantly think they have a Hacker or intruder
 

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Slavic

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I think that these "ghost" devices are quite harmless if their number is reasonable. It reminds the offline devices in the Device Manager, which are not shown by default but can be seen if you select this option. Their existence in configuration means that OS doesn't need to detect a new device, look for a driver and install it: device is ready as soon as it's connected. But if the number of such devices is too high (like the remnant system drivers after replacing the motherboard), they may slow the boot process and can be a potential source of problems.

It would be reasonable time to time clear the list of such Wi-Fi devices which are no longer available or unlikely will be in the near future. At best, it should be done automatically after some inactive time (like several months), but it may be not implemented by devs. Another example, I had to manually remove unused Wi-Fi access points in my Android phone, otherwise they will present forever.
 

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barman58

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With the ones that I am talking about, the best way to control them is to change the segment ID you are using 192.168.nnn.000 to a segment in the middle of the available segments. (just change the RED entry), and reboot the system to allocate the new range to your devices. Where possible I preallocate the Addresses to specific devices I have that way any new device stands out
 
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The-Hive

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I seem to have been exorcized, I have no ghosts not even in my closet :ROFLMAO:
 

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Haydon

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Yeah, you were exorcized in a low density (rural) area (y)
 

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Dch48

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My devices only ever show things that are currently active and available (if you have the log on credentials). They do not keep things for months or weeks, not even days. Only what is currently active and within range will show.

And, Wow, a DSL modem? I haven't seen one of those in close to 20 years. LOL
 

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Dch48

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My older laptop, which was the first laptop I ever had, was bought in early 2006. It has a dial up phone modem in it as well as wireless and Ethernet adapters. It is still fully operational but being only single core, is pretty slow on any version of Windows past XP. It currently has a triple boot setup of 98 Second Edition, XP Pro, and Windows 7 Home Premium. I have never even changed the CMOS battery.
 

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Haydon

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A DSL modem is a quite different thing from a dial up modem. DSL and cable modems are pretty well the norm for single family houses these days.
 

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Dch48

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A DSL modem is a quite different thing from a dial up modem. DSL and cable modems are pretty well the norm for single family houses these days.
Of course. I know they are different. I've had both. I just thought DSL had gone the way of the T-Rex. I guess not.
 

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    Acer Nitro 24" RG241Y 144hz refresh rate
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    Integrated Radeon 680M and discrete Radeon RX 6800S with 8GB GDDR6
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    Laptop screen 14" WQXGA, IPS, 120hz refresh rate
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    1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD (WD Black SN850)
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    Battery power and Asus power brick/adapter. Also has USB-C charging
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Haydon

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Of course. I know they are different. I've had both. I just thought DSL had gone the way of the T-Rex. I guess not.
More like a bald eagle, the soaring dinosaur.

Broadband internet access may be location dependent.

BTW, this old thread came alive all of a sudden.
 

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