Are you suddenly seeing a large number of "Unknown Devices" appearing in your Circle device list or a device with the same name, but multiple entries and MAC addresses? This might be caused by one of your devices using a new privacy feature, a settings change on a Windows 10 device, or some software on the device.
Why is Circle finding these "Unknown" devices?
Have any devices with Android 10 or iOS 14 (or versions above that) on your network? These OS versions and above include a feature to use randomized MAC addresses when a device connects to a network. For both operating systems this feature is enabled by default. Since Circle uses MAC addresses to track devices this could lead to new "Unknown devices" appearing in your device list.
This issue might also occur if you have a Windows 10 device with the "Random Hardware Address" feature enabled in its settings. (The issue can also occur on other devices that have installed "MAC spoofing" software.)
What types of problems can this cause?
When your devices have this type of feature enabled you may find that suddenly they appear over and over again, become assigned to the wrong profile, or become unmanaged. This can cause the devices to access the Internet without filters or your tracking of History, Usage and Time Limits to fail. These devices may also be unaffected by your Pauses, Focus Times, or Bedtimes. We strongly recommend using the below to address this problem!
How do I address this?
For Android and iOS devices
Step #1 - Disable the Random MAC / Private MAC Feature
These unknown devices can appear due to a feature on Android and iOS devices that causes them to change their MAC address on the network. Circle will see the new MAC address as a new device and set it to your Home profile or as unmanaged. To keep this from occurring disable the random MAC address/private address feature on the device itself. Remember that kids can turn this back on, so make sure to install the app afterward (see step #3).
This setting needs to be disabled for each WiFi network, if your router has one network listed as multiple bands (2.4G and 5G).
Note: These random MAC / private MAC features are not available for versions below iOS 14 or Android 10, so make sure to check your device for version info before proceeding on the below.
Disabling Android's Randomized MAC Address Feature
To disable random MAC addresses:
- Open the Android Settings app.
- Tap Network & Internet.
- Tap Wi-Fi.
- Tap the gear icon associated with the wireless connection to be configured.
- Tap Advanced.
- Tap Privacy.
- Tap Use Device MAC.
Note: The instructions above may differ for your Android device. Refer to your device manufacturer's help site for more assistance with this feature. Be sure to do these steps twice, once for the 2.4Ghz network and once for the 5Ghz network.
Disabling iOS's Private Address Feature
- Open the iOS Settings app.
- Tap on Wi-Fi.
- Tap the "i" next to the Wi-Fi you'd like to manage the connection for.
- Tap the "Private Wi-Fi Address" toggle to disable it in the off position.
Step #2 - Remove the unknown devices from Circle.
When this random MAC/private address feature is enabled, you'll see new devices appear in the Circle app. This can clutter your device list or cause problems when managing/filtering devices. To correct that, remove the "Unknown Device" from your Circle device list:
- Open your Circle parent app.
- Tap the devices icon in the upper right hand of the parent app.
- Find the device and tap on its name.
- Tap "Remove from Circle" and confirm (repeat the process if your device is listed more than once).
Note: Be sure to do these steps twice, once for the 2.4Ghz network and once for the 5Ghz network.
If the device returns you may need to check other devices and disable the random MAC/private address option. (Devices may also reappear if they are still on the network and connected.)
Step #3 - Install the Circle kid app on iOS and Android devices
We recommend that you install the Circle Parental Controls app on any Android or iOS devices and configure those devices as "kid devices" so they can be easily identified and managed. This will manage the device whether inside or outside your home, and even if random MAC addresses are enabled. Add that device as a mobile device by following the guide here: Setting up a Kid Device for Mobile Management.
For Windows 10 devices
Have a Windows 10 device in your home that is appearing as an "Unknown Device" in your Circle device list? This might be caused by the "Random hardware addresses" setting on the device. The setting changes the MAC address on the device each time it connects to the network. Circle uses that MAC address to identify devices. Follow the steps below to disable the feature causing that issue. Afterward, remove the old unknown devices using step #2 above.
Turn off Random Hardware Addresses on Windows 10
- Connect to your home network on the Windows 10 device.
- In your taskbar, right-click on the Wi-Fi icon and then Properties.
- Under the Random Hardware Addresses section, change the setting to Off.
- Turn off of the Wi-Fi on your device and turn it back on to reconnect to your network using the hardware MAC address.
Note: These settings will only be saved for your specific home network and your Windows 10 device will continue to protect your privacy by using a random MAC address when connecting to other networks. Be sure to do these steps twice, once for the 2.4Ghz network and once for the 5Ghz network.
"Unknown devices" may appear in your Circle device list if MAC spoofing software is installed on the device and enabled to create new MAC addresses for the device. You can remove this software to resolve the issue. We recommend locking down the account that installed this to keep it from installing new apps/software to evade Circle.
Need more help identifying devices? Check out this article.