Windows (going back to at least IE6) by default has WPAD turned on (Internet Options > Connections > LAN Settings > Automatically Detect Settings).

When you don't have a proxy or WPAD server, browsers initially take several seconds saying something to the effect of "Discovering proxy server.." before timing out and loading the page directly.

I can find lots of stuff about how to set up your proxy information via WPAD, but not how to configure WPAD to tell clients you have no proxy.

WPAD works via both DHCP and DNS, however Firefox only supports the DNS method, so a complete answer ideally provides configuration of both DHCP and DNS.

  • 1
    Why don't you just turn it off? – Michael Hampton Aug 6 '13 at 15:35
  • Because I believe in automation over repetition. This is a default setting; the implication of this is that the default behaviour the end user sees is "wait until it times out".. to me, this is stupid. Working out a general config that could be put in place to make it work for both enterprise users (where you can control via GPOs) and also home users (where routers could handle this in some way) is better than thousands of users turning it off on millions of PCs, or simply living with the timeout. Maybe the router firmwares like dd-wrt will provide this by default even. – gregmac Aug 6 '13 at 17:06
  • For most people the checks are really fast. If it really is taking a long time, then maybe you have a problem locally. – Zoredache Aug 6 '13 at 17:15
  • I've been noticing this issue for well over 10 years, probably back to Windows 2000. In that time I've used many different systems on many different networks set up by completely different people, so I'm pretty sure it's not just me (though I'm certainly less tolerant than most of computers doing pointless and avoidable things). I accept that many people are fine with just always waiting the 10 seconds or so, but that doesn't mean there shouldn't be an answer for how to do this, so IT people that care to fix it can do so. – gregmac Sep 27 '13 at 15:15

Even if you are using a proxy you should disable WPAD and manually configure your client's proxy setting using GPOs. WPAD does not have any mechanism for authentication. A Man-in-the-Middle attack is simply a matter of attacker answering the DNS query for wpad.ad.domain.tld faster than the legitimate nameserver (see this article going over the WPAD Metasploit).

You can disable WPAD by using the following GPO:

Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Internet Explorer\

  • How do you handle laptops without wpad? Are you suggesting that a proxy server should be open on the public network, or that users on the laptops should be permitted to configure their own proxy? Or do you know of some other method? - serverfault.com/questions/529092/… – Zoredache Aug 6 '13 at 17:13
  • Setting in GPO does not concern 'computer configuration' section (as @kce wrote) but 'user configuration' section as described in: stackoverflow.com/questions/15029615/… – zdzich Apr 4 '17 at 12:00

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