Turn Windows Into A WiFi Hotspot & Share Your Internet Connection

You’ve got an Internet connection via a network cable, but you want to have your other computers and devices get Internet connections wirelessly. Can you do this? Can you make your Windows computer run like a WiFi router?

The short answer is a qualified, ‘Yes.’ The key component in this process is making sure that your Windows computer has a wireless network card. If you have that installed properly, then you can turn your Windows computer into a WiFi hotspot and share your Internet connection.

How Does This All Work?

Most WiFi cards for PCs can be used to share wired Internet connections, wirelessly. Mind you, it does take some software, or special configuring, to use that capability. Essentially, the software or configuration is what will act as the ‘virtual router’ to enable your computer to share that Internet connection. We’re going to look at a few different ways that you can do this on a Windows computer, as well as the positives and negatives of each method.

virtual wifi   Turn Windows Into A WiFi Hotspot & Share Your Internet Connection

Ad-Hoc Wireless Connection via Windows Menus

Ad-hoc is a Latin phrase meaning ‘for this’. It is meant to describe something that is set up for this particular purpose only. Often it is something of a temporary nature with minimal setup, planning, or support. There are two ways to set up an ad-hoc wireless network in Windows: one is through the graphical menus, and the other is through the command line interface. Let’s take a look at the graphical menus first.

Click on your Start Menu, then Control Panel, then Network and Sharing Center. You’ll see the following window:
network and sharing center 640x307   Turn Windows Into A WiFi Hotspot & Share Your Internet Connection
Now click on  Set up a new connection or network. When the new window opens, scroll down until you see Set up a wireless ad hoc (computer-to-computer) network. Highlight that option by clicking once on it, then click the Next button.

set up wireless adhoc   Turn Windows Into A WiFi Hotspot & Share Your Internet Connection

You’ll now see a window that explains what an ad-hoc wireless network is and it tells you a few things about it. The most important thing to note is that any devices using the ad-hoc wireless network must be within 30 feet of each other, in any direction. Consider that as a maximum upper limit, as so many other things can affect the range of a wireless signal. Expect maybe half of that. You can optimize the range by following a few tips on what we’ve come to call wireless feng shui.

The second most important thing to note is that if you create an ad-hoc wireless connection, any wireless connection you have to a device right now will be dropped. So, if you think you can connect wirelessly to one network and share that network wirelessly with others – you can’t. It’s one or the other. Click the Next  button to move on to the next window.

This window is where you set the name of your network and what kind of security it has on it. It is recommended to use the WPA2-Personal choice for Security type. This gives you the best security you can get with an ad-hoc connection like this. Use a password that you don’t mind giving to other people. Don’t recycle a password you use for other things like Facebook or banking. You’ll soon regret that, if you do. If you intend to set up an ad-hoc wireless network again in the future, you can check the box that reads Save this network and click the Next button.

name network and security   Turn Windows Into A WiFi Hotspot & Share Your Internet Connection
Congratulations! You’ve just created an ad-hoc wireless network! Share it with your friends and family as you see fit.

The problems with this kind of connection aren’t many, but it isn’t the most universal solution. People with Windows 7 or earlier trying to connect with non-Windows devices have had some difficulties and have had to investigate deeply to find out how to configure their non-Windows devices in order to connect.

Sometimes, the issue is that the device isn’t compatible with the type of security or encryption that your ad-hoc wireless network is set up to use. Sometimes, it’s a matter of the firewall on the host computer blocking the devices from connecting. Sometimes, you can solve the problem by assigning static IP addresses to your connecting devices. Sometimes, it doesn’t seem like there’s a good reason at all why it won’t work.

From the research I’ve done, it appears that Windows 8 and newer have less issues like this. We have previously explained what you can try if you are having issues with Windows 8 and WiFi.

The Verdict On This Method

The positive is that this is an easy connection to set up and quick to disable. This method is best suited for allowing short and temporary connection of devices you know that will work.

Ad-Hoc Wireless Connection via Command Line or Batch File

You can also create and disable an ad-hoc wireless network using the command line. When you can do something through the command line in Windows, you can also write a batch file to do the same thing. This is especially useful for tasks that you would repeatedly perform.

To do this via the command line, you need to open the Command Prompt. The quickest way to do that is to click on the Start Menu then type cmd in the Search programs and files field. When it finds the Command Prompt program, right click on it and select Run as Administrator, unless you are the administrator.

First, you must initialize the hosted network mode. This is the command: netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=YourSSID key=YourPassword keyusage=persistent where you change YourSSID to whatever you want to name the network, and YourPassword to whatever password you want on the network.

Second, you must turn the network on: netsh wlan start hostednetwork

netsh command prompt 640x323   Turn Windows Into A WiFi Hotspot & Share Your Internet Connection

Third, when you want to close out the network, use the command: netsh wlan stop hostednetwork

Pretty simple. If you want to create a batch file for this, open up Notepad and copy and paste the following into it. Again, change YourSSID to whatever you want to name the network, and YourPassword to whatever password you want on the network.

@echo off
CLS
:MENU
ECHO.
ECHO…………………………………………
ECHO.
ECHO Press 1, 2, or 3 to select your task, or 4 to Exit.
ECHO…………………………………………
ECHO.
ECHO 1 – Set Wifi Sharing Attributes
ECHO 2 – Start WiFi Sharing
ECHO 3 – Stop WiFi Sharing
ECHO 4 – Exit
ECHO.
SET /P M=Type 1, 2, 3, or 4, then press ENTER:
IF %M%==1 GOTO SET
IF %M%==2 GOTO START
IF %M%==3 GOTO STOP
IF %M%==4 GOTO EOF
:SET
netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=YourSSID key=YourPassword keyusage=persistent
GOTO MENU
:START
netsh wlan start hostednetwork
GOTO MENU
:STOP
netsh wlan stop hostednetwork
GOTO MENU

Save the file to your desktop as something like AdHocNetwork.bat. Make sure it doesn’t have the .txt extension. Now, when you want to create an ad-hoc network, all you have to do is run the batch file (as Administrator) and follow the menu prompts. It’ll look like this:

ad hoc network batch file 640x323   Turn Windows Into A WiFi Hotspot & Share Your Internet Connection

The Verdict On This Method

The same pros and cons apply to this as to the other ad-hoc network you created through the Windows method. It’s  great for setting up a short and temporary connection of devices, but automated and quicker to set up.

The Software Approach

There are plenty of software applications that make setting up your Windows PC as a virtual WiFi router as easy as can be. Most of them take care of the various issues that you might encounter with the more traditional ad-hoc networks. Virtual WiFi Router (free, our review), VirtualRouter (free, our review), WiFi Hotspot Creator (free), Thinix ($13 USD) and Connectify Hot Spot PRO are just a few of the applications available that can do this. Connectify HotSpot Pro has consistently been the best virtual router software that I have used, so I’ll share a bit more about it with you here.

Connectify Hot Spot PRO – $40 USD

In my experience, Connectify is the best application to use for this, as it is super simple to set up, runs flawlessly, and I’ve never had an issue with any device being able to connect to it, as long as it was in range. I’ve connected Android phones and tablets, iPads and iPhones, BlackBerry Playbooks and phones, and of course, Windows PCs. The most I’ve had connected at one time has been five devices and it performed wonderfully, with no noticeable lag on my PC or the other devices.

Sure, Connectify costs a few bucks, but the aggravation it saves easily pays for that. The software also aids in sharing of files between devices connected to it and access to the Local Area Network. I’d go as far as to say that Microsoft should consider acquiring Connectify and making this software part of Windows.

The image on the left shows just how easy it is to configure, and the image on the right shows you how it keeps track of who is connected, and has previously connected.

connectify hotspot pro 495x500   Turn Windows Into A WiFi Hotspot & Share Your Internet Connection

Some of you might be thinking, “Why would I buy Connectify to do this, when I could just buy a wireless router?” That’s a valid question. If your PC is typically going to be stationary, then getting a WiFi router makes a lot of sense. However, if you have the need to be able to set up a WiFi router in different places, if you travel for work, then software is a lot easier to lug around.

The Verdict On This Method

Connectify is ideal for people who might be sales people, corporate trainers, lecturers, and more.

Summing It Up

Now you know that you CAN turn your Windows PC or laptop into a virtual WiFi router, and you have a few different ways to do so. Pick the one that is right for your needs, try it out, test it, and learn more about what you can do with it.

What other things will a virtual WiFi router allow you to do? Play around, and let us know. There definitely is other uses than just connecting to the Internet, but we’ll leave that to you to explore and learn for now.

Ever set up a virtual WiFi network? How did you do it? What were the ups and downs to your method? Is there one way that you would recommend over another? Let us know in the comments, that’s how we all learn, and we’re all in this together.

Image Sources: Sky Background via Flickr, Laptop, Android Tablet, Smart Phone, WiFi Wave via Pixabay.

32 Comments - Write a Comment

0 votes
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Ashok K

Does any of these methods work with windows 7 starter netbook?

0 votes

Guy M

No, Windows 7 Starter does not come with the necessary Virtual Wifi features. Sorry.

0 votes
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Victor O

What about buying a wireless portable router? I think MUO did a review on one of those recently. Why not get one of those?

0 votes

Guy M

You could do that. However it’s one more piece of hardware to carry, and possibly get stolen or lost. These methods are just options to that. If you have the portable WiFi router AND a software WiFi router, then if one or the other fails, you’ve got backup.

0 votes
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Jo-anne P

That is all I run is windows 7 but I still enjoyed the article thanks for the post.

0 votes
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Richard L

Not necessarily true. Quite a few (recent) notebooks do not support this feature. The key error message is that the applications cannot start the server process. The root cause is that the network card used does not support this function. Until customers are aware of this issue & consciously avoid lame notebooks with this crippling limitations, the manufacturers will continue to foist these crap on the users.

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Anthony

There’s software called Virtual Router that does this also. Just Google it, you’ll find it.

0 votes
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Vince A

Can an android device (Tablet or Phone) connect to the internet through this ad-hoc wireless network described here?

0 votes

James B

No. By default android isn’t compatible with adhoc networks.

0 votes
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Lew

You can also use the Soft AP (access point) feature of some USB WiFi dongles. The ones that use the RealTek 8187 chipset work great for this (even with Windows 7 Starter). A couple of mouse clicks and you are done.

Vince A: Android will not connect to an Ad-Hoc network. Will not even “see” it.

0 votes

Guy M

If I recall correctly, the Soft AP feature is now on some on-board WiFi cards. I could be wrong though.

I can connect my Android KitKat and Jellybean devices to the ad-hoc network. What issues are you seeing? Error messages?

0 votes
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DuckGo

I’ve used a couple of the free software solutions but found them not very robust. The ad-hoc method is ok, but in the end I simply bought a dedicated wireless router and never looked back. I’d reconsider using one of the above methods in a pinch, but there’s no substitute for hardware – imo.

0 votes
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AKRefugee

I travel in quasi third world areas of the world. Many times my team and I will show up and find a single wired connection and no wireless router. We take turns hooking up to send our data out which has caused to be on site for several days longer than we should have been. I was taught this method just before my last trip and my team and I tried it out. Worked great for us. Yeh, we could have brought a wireless router but believe me, if you take your eyes off of it it will be stolen. With our bags and laptops we already have enough to watch out for.

We don’t use it as a preferred way to hook to the internet but when we do need to use it I am glad we know how to do this.

0 votes
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Clay

I’ve used Conectify for a year or so now. Works very well with all devices (Android, ipad, pc) i’ve used to connect through it.

0 votes
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kevin

Also check this similar blog http://www.kevuke-howitgoes.blogspot.com , touches more of how to connect your Blackberry playbook via connectify-me

0 votes

Guy M

Thanks for that. I do have issues with the BB Playbook sometimes.

0 votes
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Adam

Any ways of doing this with Ubuntu 13:10?

0 votes

DrPhilFan

Not that I know of.

0 votes
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Jubel

the only problem with the built-in ad-hoc ability in windows 7 or earlier is that,when you turn off your computer then again power it up and starts your hotspot by manually clicking in the System Tray icon..it gives you a exclamatory sign/yellow sign that indicates that No Internet Access through your Hotspot ..well you can fix it by turning off Sharing Internet Connection mode and then Re-enabling it..i would prefer using Connectify,its easy,durable,fast,autmatic :)..thankyou

0 votes

Guy M

Absolutely correct.

0 votes
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Vince A

Guy M, The device won’t even find the network. Doesn’t work for me.

0 votes
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Clay M

you can create a virtual wifi connection with a software ,
There are many such software I use winhotspot as the GUI is user friendly.

it also has some tools which will show connected devices mac address.

if you like to try it download from http://www.winhotspot.com or from cnet also u can download it

0 votes
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Sree

mHotSpot is one more bud utility to share internet connection.

0 votes

Guy M

Cool, Sree. Thank you for that. The more options we have the more likely we are to find the one that best suits our needs.

0 votes
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Http://tricksforums.com/

Thanks for that tutorial. with this method Can i share my internet with my android device.

0 votes

Guy M

If you’re looking to share with your Android, I highly recommend getting Connectify. It makes life so much simpler.

0 votes
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AJ

Hey there,
Based on my past 4 years experience the easiest way to share your internet connection using a your built in wifi is with the small application call “mHotspot’.

mHotspot is a completely free software which converts your windows 7 & 8 laptop into a virtual wifi router and creates a secure wifi hotspot. You can share single internet connection(LAN, Ethernet, Data-Card, 3G/4G, Wif) for multiple devices like laptops, smartphones, android phones, PDAs, Ipads etc. Play Multiplayer gaming using mHotspot. No router or external hardware is required apart from your existing one.

You can download this application from http://www.mhotspot.com/

Good luck and cheers…

0 votes

Guy M

Lots of love for mHotspot in the comments! I may be the only person that wasn’t able to get it working well. Wouldn’t be the first time. Glad to hear it rocks for everyone else.

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guest1

mhotspot is building SEO.. Backlinking :)

0 votes
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jul

the text you give for making the batch file is wrong…
Why?
All the points after “echo” will not work.
But thanks a lot for this code !!
It’s what I was looking for.
I just have to erase all the points on the two lines after echo……………..
and then it works

0 votes
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Guy M

Weird. Works for me. Those dots are all just for show anyway, so yeah, blast them outta there.
Thank you for the comment though. Someone else might have the same problem and you just helped them! You should do something nice for yourself.

0 votes
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sahil

nice article keep writing buddy………thankyou

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