Ever had to stay at a hotel that only provided a single ethernet port for connectivity? Using a USB modem to connect to the internet maybe? Wouldn’t it be great if you could share you internet connection without having to buy even more fiddly hardware?
Well, you’re in luck because that’s exactly what we’re going to take a look at today!
What’s this Dark Magic in my PC?
Good question! This technology is called Virtual Wifi and it’s part of every Windows 7 installation. Also called as Wireless Hosted Network, this technology lets Windows 7 machines route connections over Ethernet or even over a client station connection on the same wifi adapter.
Long story short, this technology basically allows you to turn your laptop into a fairly functional access point through which you can connect your mobile devices, or even a friend’s laptop, to the internet.
The only requirement is that your laptop should have two networking adapters with WHQL certified drivers for Windows 7. Shouldn’t be a cause for worry though: most drivers are certified and almost all laptops come with a wired ethernet port and a wireless Wifi adapter so you should be mostly good to go.
Otherwise, all you need to do is pickup one of those cheap USB dongles to add another network adapter. That’s all you need on the hardware side.
The Easy Way
As with almost everything in life, there’s an easy way and there’s a hard, slightly more nerdy, way. Let’s look at the easier one first.
The easier way makes use of a neat little application called Virtual Router. To quote their site:
Using Virtual Router, users can wirelessly share any internet connection with any Wifi device. These devices connect to Virtual Router just like any other access point, and the connection is completely secured using WPA2, the most secure wireless encryption.
Sounds easy, right? To be honest, it actually is. And did I mention that it’s free to boot?
Grab the installation file and get installing. It’s a very benign application, weighing in at a single megabyte and takes only a few clicks to finish installation.
Once installed, you’ll get a very simply screen to configure your access point.
Name your network as you wish. I couldn’t really ignore the sheer awesomeness of what I was doing so I just named my network, Matrix. Be sure to give your network a strong password as well — unlike me.
Now you’ll need to select which ‘connection’ to share. If you’re connecting through ethernet, this would be a LAN connection. If you’re on a USB modem of some sort, you’ll need to pick accordingly.
If your connection doesn’t show up, it’s probably an outdated driver somewhere. Update your driver and relaunch the application.
And that’s about all there is that you need to do. Click on that big button and wait for the software to do its voodoo. A few moments later, you can connect to the network just as you would connect to a regular network. Here is how mine looked after I hooked up my phone to the network.
The (Slightly) Hard Way
The above sounded almost too easy? You’re a command line warrior who is ashamed to use a GUI application? Fret not! I’m here with a solution for just you.
Step #1: Open a command prompt with administrator privileges. The usual right click, followed by “Run as Administrator” should do.
Step #2: Configure your network by typing in:
netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=thisisagenericssid key=opensesame
Keep in mind that the key is your network’s passphrase. The rest should be self explanatory.
Step #3: Go to your network adapter’s settings.
Right click on the adapter which has the internet connection and click on properties. Click on the sharing tab and enable Internet Connection Sharing.
Step #4: Start your network with the following:
netsh wlan start hostednetwork
Step #5: Stand back and admire your work. You’re done!
That wasn’t as complicated or as time consuming as you thought, was it? People do tend to be quite hard on Windows but no one can deny that it comes bundled with an enormous amount of great stuff like this built in.
Let me know if you’re run into any issues setting this up and thank you so much for reading!