Tethering: How to Connect Mobile Internet to Your PC or Laptop
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Need an internet connection for your PC or laptop, but don’t want to use public Wi-Fi? The solution is simple: connect your smartphone’s mobile internet connection to your PC. This process is known as tethering.

Using tethering with your laptop or tablet may be faster than the public Wi-Fi in your favorite cafe, but it isn’t without problems. Here’s what you need to know about mobile tethering with an Android smartphone.

What Is Tethering?

Tethering is the term for connecting your phone to your computer via USB, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi and using the phone’s internet connectivity to provide a connection for the computer.

In the pre-iPhone days, this meant using an old-style feature phone to call a number that gave internet access anywhere How to Find Free Unlimited Wi-Fi Internet Access Almost Anywhere How to Find Free Unlimited Wi-Fi Internet Access Almost Anywhere There's nothing better than scoring free Wi-Fi. Here are some ways to find free unlimited Wi-Fi no matter where you are. Read More . Some cell phones could share their internet connection, enabling you to get online via the device network’s APN.

Following the release of the iPhone in 2007, cell phone networks began charging for tethering plans. Fortunately, this money-grabbing practice has since been phased out almost completely, and these days, tethering is usually free.

Android Mobile Tethering Options Explained

Android owners have three tethering options to share an internet connection with their PC, laptop, or tablet:

  1. Connect via Bluetooth
  2. Use your phone as a wireless hotspot
  3. Hook your phone to your computer via USB

Below we’ll look at each of these and discover which method will drain your battery quickest, and which transfers data fastest.

Before proceeding, make sure you have enabled mobile internet on your phone. It’s important to note that mobile signal strength will impact speed.

This can result in the battery charge decreasing quickly, as the phone puts effort into downloading less data than it might with a full signal.

We provide speed results from speedtest.net for comparison.

1. USB Tethering

Mobile phones have long had a modem feature, allowing you to hook up the device to your computer via USB. This lets you share the mobile internet connection over a wired connection, rather than the more widely used Wi-Fi.

It’s easy to do. Connect the USB cable that shipped with your phone to your computer, then plug it into the phone’s USB port.

Next, on your Android device, open Settings > Network & internet > Hotspot & tethering. Tap the USB tethering option. The Hotspot & tethering warning will appear, informing you that continuing will interrupt any existing data transfers between your phone and PC.

Click OK to proceed. A notification icon should appear to confirm that the phone is now tethered to your computer. In our testing, we found the following results:

  • Speed: 97Mbps download, 2.02Mbps upload, with an average ping of 66ms.
  • Battery Impact: The effect on your battery depends on whether your laptop is plugged in or not. If it is, battery decrease should be slow to non-existent, as the phone will slowly charge.

Note: If your computer is running on its battery, your phone will potentially drain the computer’s battery, rather than its own.

2. Bluetooth Tethering

Another way to share your mobile internet connection to a PC, laptop, or tablet is to use Bluetooth. The short-range wireless technology has enough bandwidth to route data to and from your phone and a paired device.

Start by pairing your phone with your computer. First, make your Android phone discoverable by long-pressing the Bluetooth icon in the notification area to open Bluetooth settings.

We’ll assume you’re using Windows 10, which has a straightforward Bluetooth pairing tool in Settings > Devices > Bluetooth & other devices. Switch this to On and wait for Windows to detect your phone.

If you run into problems, try our guide to setting up Bluetooth in Windows 10 How to Turn On or Fix Bluetooth on Windows 10 How to Turn On or Fix Bluetooth on Windows 10 Need to pair a Bluetooth device with Windows 10? Here's how to turn on Bluetooth on Windows 10 and troubleshoot any issues. Read More .

Once paired, on your phone, open Settings > Network & internet > Hotspot & Tethering and tap Bluetooth tethering.

Meanwhile on your computer, expand the System Tray to find the Bluetooth icon, and right-click it. Select Join a Personal Area Network, find your phone’s icon, and right-click this. In the resulting menu, choose Connect using > Access point.

Connect to an Android tethering access point via Bluetooth in Windows 10

Your phone should then display a notification that Bluetooth tethering is active. Our testing found:

  • Speed: 35Mbps download, 0.78Mbps upload, with an average ping of 289ms.
  • Battery Impact: Heavy Bluetooth use really puts pressure on your battery. Ten minutes of use ate up five percent of the charge on my phone.

3. Wi-Fi Hotspot

Combining the wireless benefits of Bluetooth with the speed of USB, using your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot is perhaps the most popular tethering option.

Using your mobile internet and Wi-Fi connection, your phone creates a private network to connect your devices devices with a secure password. It’s easily the most convenient option.

Open Settings > Network & internet > Hotspot & tethering and tap Portable hotspot (Wi-Fi hotspot on some phones). In the next screen, switch to On, then use the Configure hotspot menu to set a name for the connection (or use the default, usually AndroidAP).

Tap the Show password box to view the password if needed.

On your Windows PC, press Win + I to open Settings, then Network & internet > Wi-Fi. Click Show available networks and browse to find the network your phone created. (You can also do this by right-clicking the wireless internet icon in the System Tray).

Android Wi-Fi tethering in Windows 10

Select the network, and click Connect. Then input the password as displayed on your phone (making any other changes as required) and the connection will establish after a moment. Here’s what we found from this option:

  • Speed: 10Mbps download, 4.45Mbps upload, with an average ping of 55ms.
  • Battery Impact: As with Bluetooth tethering, heavy use reduced battery by around five percent in 10 minutes. Standard usage seems to be better with Wi-Fi tethering, however, and could potentially last around 5-6 hours.

Once you’ve set up wireless tethering for the first time, it’s easy to activate again. Open the notification area and tap the Hotspot button, then wait for your computer to connect.

Mobile Tethering? Use USB for Best Battery Life

Wireless, Bluetooth, and USB tethering are all options for getting your laptop or tablet online. But which is best?

Our tests show that USB tethering is the option that drains your phone’s battery the slowest. Meanwhile, Bluetooth offers the worst speeds. Thanks to improvements in Bluetooth technology, its impact on battery is acceptable.

Stuck choosing between a Wi-Fi hotspot and USB tethering? Well, USB isn’t the fastest at everything, making Wi-Fi the best all-around option. But if Wi-Fi isn’t available, relying on USB tethering is your best alternative.

Concerned about the cost of tethering? Check these ways to reduce data usage 8 Useful Tips to Reduce Mobile Data Usage and Save Money 8 Useful Tips to Reduce Mobile Data Usage and Save Money Want to get the most out of your mobile data plan? These apps and tricks can help you squeeze out every last megabyte. Read More .

Explore more about: Battery Life, Data Usage, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Wi-Fi Tethering.

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  1. ken
    November 20, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    I find this all very difficult to understand, partly because the windows and messages that I get at each step do not exactly correspond with what the article says I should get. However, I think I have "tethered" my smart phone to my laptop computer, via the USB ports.
    How to I check that they are actually tethered?
    How do I now download an internet page onto my laptop, using my tethered connection rather than my landline internet connection?

  2. nikolas
    May 17, 2019 at 3:04 am

    can you flip it

  3. Tech enthusiast
    January 15, 2019 at 5:56 am

    Tethering isn't a thing anymore yet many people like myself still find it useful. Tethering is very underrated and isn't recieving attention from the developers to make it more efficient.

  4. Dominick
    June 3, 2018 at 11:53 am

    The " Wireless & Networks "
    Why ? Can I Not Find This On My
    " Windows 7 64x Bit Premium "
    Desktop ? Can You Please Help ?

  5. Dominick
    June 3, 2018 at 11:49 am

    The " Wireless & Networks "
    Why ? Can I Not Find This On My
    " Windows 7 64x Bit Premium " Desktop ? Can You Help ?

  6. Karen
    May 7, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Thank you! My son said to turn on my hotspot, but the office computer is not wi-fi enabled. I had tried doing this last week but I didn't see the "USB tethering" choice, or I skipped over it. And now it works!

  7. Taha
    November 1, 2017 at 10:30 am

    Thank you, this really helped me in a time when my WiFi Card was not working and I didn't have time to fix it.

    Thanks a lot.

  8. kathrine
    September 27, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    i want to ask that ,shall we have a technology so tethering is done for large distances and we have internet access from mobile device to pc at large distance ,
    as this technology is at smaller scale internet access.

  9. Jemma
    December 2, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    I use USB tethering to get around the fact that my laptop and my dorm's wifi network are like... allergic to each other! :/ I have an old crappy phone I bought when I first moved to the country, which nonetheless has the secret superpower of maintaining near-constant connection to weird/overcrowded networks that other devices will only connect to intermittently, if at all. Doesn't even have any credit on the SIM card so this is definitely wifi. Whatever.

    My computer thinks it is an Ethernet connection and seems happy, internet speed is good enough for studying, etc. Actually, in general the dorm network is pretty good - they have two routers/networks on each floor, so there are only at most 5-6 people on each network (tall, narrow dorm building) and even at peak use times, voice and video VOIP calls work fine, although there is often an interruption every 10-20 minutes or so as the wifi goes down momentarily. I am a little far from the router and only get 3 bars of wifi reception (though at times, especially when fewer people are connected, it shows all four). I'm not sure why my computer refuses to even connect to it!

  10. Hemanth
    October 4, 2016 at 4:08 am

    After doing as instructed above, I see the option on my PC as connected but when I open any internet browser it says to connect to the internet. Please help me.

    • Sheeja
      April 25, 2018 at 5:42 pm

      I had same experience. Need help..!

  11. Amitesh Srivastava
    August 12, 2016 at 6:15 am

    Is there any way to have laptop's wifi on my phone? I mean making laptop a hotspot instead of device.

  12. cyndi
    July 27, 2016 at 12:27 am

    Thank You Mr. Cawley,
    My sister has financial problems with phone paid by son in different city. She can not afford internet on computer, I have written her instructions you gave to see if this will work for her, since she lives in a very small Texas town where internet is sky high. I knew you could do this and you explained it very well. I can say, now with unlimited data these days this can help with anyone having financial issues or if someone like me that goes camping and can take laptop to watch movie or do facebook!

    • Christian Cawley
      July 27, 2016 at 7:04 am

      happy to have helped!

  13. Daniel
    November 22, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    hehehehe thank, you see my router nor the house phone in the house are notworking right now so my only choice out was turn on my data plan and look this up, use usb tethering and get internet on my desktop.

  14. Anonymous
    July 28, 2015 at 11:42 am

    upto how much distance can we use this hotspot...????????

  15. Anonymous
    June 7, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    me too, i can't see any "Access Point / Connect using" .. doesn't appear when i check the Devices and Printers.

  16. neha
    May 15, 2015 at 7:46 am

    i want to knw how to connect mobile internet with laptop the information given by thz site was not appropriate. u shud make changes.

    • Christian Cawley
      June 11, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      No changes necessary, other than to say that apparently this isn't the case for all devices. Since I've switched to a Nexus 5 I can't create an access point. Frustrating.

    • Anonymous
      June 15, 2015 at 6:55 am

      You can try connecting mobile internet with laptop using USB tethering which work for me and it is best option.

  17. Shubham Tiwari
    May 8, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    My computer show no data access but in my mobile there is 500. Hiw can I solve it

  18. Hamid ali
    May 1, 2015 at 5:30 am

    I am not able to use tethering . plz tell another way to shere android's internet on pc having windows xp.Thanx.

    • Christian Cawley
      May 3, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      Why are you unable to use tethering? Has your mobile provider blocked it?

  19. leti,from ethiopia
    April 26, 2015 at 12:39 am

    wow,iam highly interested to use my phone is network on my pcs,before today,iam searching for the solution of what pinpointed in my mind.
    but today,ifollow the steps found on ur guidelines and my pc is running without limitation.
    thank u

  20. abhishek
    April 9, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    not showing "
    connect using"

  21. Debbie Trimble
    March 29, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    I am using the htc desire 510 on cricketwireless. I cannot seem to get the hotspot on my phone to open. It's set up and paired to my laptop Dell Intel core laptop. But I cannot get internet sharing to connect/work. I have done everything/troubleshooting and all. CAN YOU HELP PLEASE. Tell me what I'm doing wrong. HELP HELP PLEASE. Disabled 57 yr old women with computer knowledge frazzled.

    • Christian Cawley
      April 1, 2015 at 7:57 am

      Hi Debbie, does mobile Internet work on the phone when you're not attempting to share the connection? If so, it could be that your provider is blocking the hotspot.

  22. saurav
    March 14, 2015 at 8:30 am

    windows 7 plz xplain how to access internet in my computer when i m having data pack on my mobile by usb tethering in mobile gionne p4 model

    • cassandra
      March 22, 2015 at 12:16 am

      i am using an AT&T 3gs Iphone Apple
      to a Ipad thinker laptop and Ipad (Ipad) Apple

    • Anonymous
      June 15, 2015 at 7:07 am

      Set your mobile internet connection then connect your mobile phone using usb cable after that
      select SETTING->MORE-> TETHERING AND MOBILE HOTSPOT->USBTETHERING.

      this setting helps to connect internet on windows 7 .

  23. SAURAV
    March 2, 2015 at 9:42 am

    In USB tethering mode do I have to do some settings in my computer because it's not working at all

    • Christian Cawley
      March 2, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      That rather depends on what operating system you're using :)

  24. Swerve
    November 7, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Really helpful article. I do have a question though. Lately I've been reading a lot about rooting and jailbreaking . Often writers give 'tether your phone's internet connection using wifi ' as one of the most significant reasons to why one should root or jailbreak one's mobile device. Often (in fact always) the "unrooted" mobile devices provide that feature anyway. So what extra can rooting possibly do as far as using mobile's net connection is concerned ?

    • ronL2k
      April 22, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      Rooting allows one to change the carrier's APN settings to allow tethering with specific options or with different carriers.

  25. likefunbutnot
    November 6, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    A quick survey of the four nearest Android phones suggests that hotspot capability is still very much arbitrate by carrier policy. My phone is rooted, but all the other phones I checked prompted me to subscribe to a sharing plan.

    • MGIII
      November 26, 2014 at 2:02 am

      I think you're right. My phone is not rooted, and when I went to all the options described, my I wasn't allowed to continue until I added hotspots to my plan.

  26. Kris
    November 6, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    A LONG time ago in a state far, far away, I had a Sprint PCS (remember that?) phone rigged to tether to my GIANT laptop. My wife and I went storm chasing in Oklahoma. (For my international friends, Oklahoma is in about the center of the US and is a massive hotspot for tornadic activity.)

    I was able to dribble enough signal through to get real time doppler updates to use for storm chasing. I thought I was THE MAN for being able to do that. It took all kinds of "duct tape engineering" to get the signal to work. Now, all it takes is a couple of clicks. Glad we've come so far so fast!