Turn Your PC Into a Wifi Hot Spot

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.

Hardware Requirements

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.

Do read what the installation screen says!

Do read what the installation screen says!

Once installed, you’ll get a very simply screen to configure your access point.

The Default Screen

The Default Screen

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.

With a mobile device on the network

With a mobile device on 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.

Network and sharing center

Network and sharing center

Right click on the adapter which has the internet connection and click on properties. Click on the sharing tab and enable Internet Connection Sharing.

Enable "Internet Connection Sharing"

Enable "Internet Connection Sharing"

Step #4: Start your network with the following:

netsh wlan start hostednetwork

How your prompt should look like

How your prompt should look like

Step #5: Stand back and admire your work. You’re done!

Wrapping Up

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!


  • SZH

    Hey, how did you know I was just looking for something like this? I hope you can’t read all of my thoughts! :-)

    • http://www.ssiddharth.com/ Siddharth

      Haha. I think a lot of us are looking for a utility like this.

  • Alok Desai

    Sounds, cool. Will definitely try it. One question though, and I am sorry If I sound like a noob here, because I am, when it comes to networking stuff.
    In the second method, you do it all without using any third party software like ‘virtual router’ rite?

    • http://www.ssiddharth.com/ Siddharth

      Yes, no third party software required for the second method.

      • Tarek

        I suppose the third party software performs what you did in the second method, yet at backstage

  • Kai

    Another excellent Software for WiFi Hotspots is Connectify (http://www.connectify.me). Use this software since 2 years :)

    • http://www.ssiddharth.com/ Siddharth

      Indeed. I was looking to set up part of my home network when I ran into Connectify and all the software used above.

      Look for a review next week!

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  • kwasi ansong

    i had a bit of a problem sharing my internet connection. i use a usb modem. when i go to internet sharing portion, my modem does not show up in there. any help?

  • g walters

    Can I use this with a Compaq PC with Windows Vista ( I can upgrade windows) It is not a laptop. I live in country and can’t get internet.

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  • D J

    Great Stuff.. been a great help just the info i needed thanxs:)

  • puzz

    I love this idea. i used to use conenctify but it makes my main comp so sloowwwww

    i dunno if this is a bug with my comp or connectify, but im definetly happy i can try thi swith out downloading something

    question though, my little icon thingy in the far corner ( the one that shows the connection) keeps havign a little x next to it, even though there is indeed a connection.

    plus im still kinda scared this may slow down my comp.

    any thoughts? Thanks.

  • http://design-gate.webs.com Wajiha Rizvi

    Pretty cool!

  • Noobi

    Thanks for the post. However at the end of step 3 in the “hard way”, ‘Wireless Connection 2′ doesn’t show up as an option, though it appears in the Network Connections window. I can only select ‘Wireless Connection’, but doing that doesn’t allow me to start the hosted network. Any ideas?
    Many thanks

  • Tam

    I tried installing Connectify, Virtual Router and Maryfi but they all froze my computer or didn’t work. After I use the command prompt step by step then it just shows – Identifying, No network access. The second network is not connected. I even tried creating an adhoc wireless network and no internet access either.

    • Techchoker

      I’ve met the same problem before and asked for help but no response. Then I try a new software named Virtual Hotspot. It’s super easy to use. All my iPhone, iPod touch and NDS can connected without any problems. Most importantly, it’s free! Free! Free again! That is why I love Virtual Hotspot the most

  • OldThumper

    Thought that a similar program to Joikuspot for Nokia mobile should exist on a PC and here you are telling me that there is and it works brilliantly – the easy way anyway! Thanks for that.

  • philgab

    GREAT STUFF..

  • morsyuluv

    i installed the program and my galaxy note is connected but i can’t enter the net
    how do i fix this

  • iPhone

    I am a noob when it comes to networking and yet got this to working with the help of this article. This is a great article!
    My Windows 7 desktop PC only has a wired ethernet connection that I want to share with my iPhone. But it doesn’t a wireless card. So I had to buy a (Belkin N150) Wireless (USB) adapter first and installed the drivers. Then I tried 2nd method first but it didn’t work. Also I had to get WLAN AutoConfig service (on desktop) started. My iPhone tried to connect to the Virtual WiFi Miniport adapter but it just keeps spinning and didn’t get connected. Then I tried the first method “Virtual Router” and it worked great. Virtual Router rocks! It would be nice to know how this software works, what drivers it installs (if any) and how it is different from the Microsoft virtual wifi.
    Thank you very much!

  • Vicki

    BT provide hotspots that are unreliable. Are you considering extending the dongle wifi to such a extent. I would support this if so or are you intending only for individual home use?

  • Mudasir Raja
  • Seab3339

    Downloaded & installed Virtual Router.
    Tried to start ir, and box popped up saying “Could not start”….

  • Amar

    Hi,
    Thanks for sharing this brilliant and simple hotspot method,

    Unfortunately for me, I tried both, and even though I am able to get my ipad & mobile to connect to the hotspot. Nothing happens. Internet activity just does not happen from both devices, even though both show that they have connected successfully to the hotspot.

    I am trying to share the 3G connection from the USB dongle. and the Hospot Status in the Notification tray shows “internet Access”

    Is there something else I need to do ?

  • Asus1234

    I followed the hard way steps. But could not see a sharing tab. What does that mean?

  • Kevin

    Thank you Siddharth! The ad-hoc network wasn’t good enough – this was a good solution

  • chuckofalltrades

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you!
    Been trying like crazy to figure out how to get my desktop to act as a WiFi hotspot.

    Goodbye, clunky router!

  • Tarek

    One question, does the second method work wlan only?
    What if I’m using a USB modem from any communications provider?

  • Melissa

    I’m trying to set up the hotspot using a USB internet stick but when I get to step #3 “sharing” isn’t one of the options, instead it says “general, options, network, security” and none of them allow the network to be shared. I also tried to install the virtual router but it doesn’t show the USB network (and I have no idea how to fix that).

    Thanks for your help!

  • hasham

    i will have to keep my main computer on to use internet on my mobile through wi-fi from my computer!!!
    this is not very effecient as ellectricity in my country is very costly. Any other ideas in which i do not have to keep my computer on while not working on it!!!!!!!

  • rohan

    i loved this method…the 2nd one…

  • Sunny

    i went with the 2nd method, when i try to connect my wireless device to it it asks for a password, what should i type there? plz help

    • boomboom

      I think the password is supposed to be ‘opensesame’ as in the second step when you write key=opensesame, he then says ‘keep in mind that the key is your network’s passphrase’.
      I managed to connect my android phone to it using this password, but not my ipad, perhaps this method doesn’t support apple devices connecting?

  • Mustafa

    i tried this program but didn’t work what i am trying to share is usb internet modem is there anything i can do ?

  • Intars

    I have 2 ethernet ports/adapters and for some reason it shares the first one which doesn’t have internet connection.
    So I get only Wi-Fi LAN. :(

  • Abasiemeka

    Excellent piece. Thanks a million. I just started the hostednetwork on my laptop and my nexus7 can see it but it seems to get stuck at ‘obtaining IP address’. I wonder if there’s some solution to that.

  • anil

    Hi,

    I did everything as you mentioned and i connected to my android phone xperia arc there after when connected to my phone all of a sudden my system got hung up and restarted automatically with a blue screen showing that some issues with recently installed software or hardware make sure check with your administrator like that so it will repeat every time in my system so anyone could you please help me out from this issue .

    Thanks.

  • shweta

    hi. i get stuck after the 2nd command. i get the message ‘the hosted network could not be started. the group or the resource is not in the correct state to preform the required operation.’ I don’t understand! please help!

    • anil

      Hi shweta
      these two are the main big fishes ….check out once
      Have you got any other WiFi network setup with the same SSID or
      Your WiFi card or driver doesn’t support it.

      • Rayan

        Hi

        im aswell having the same problem as shweta and no i have no SSID registered with same name and yes my WIFI card and driver do support it,

        Can you please let me know of any other possibilities???

        Thanx

  • sibtain jamal

    well i tried to setup wifi connection on my laptop which worked perfectly….my apple device also detected the same but it gives the msg that ur not connected to the internet…why any idea

  • aaron

    i am getting the below error. please help
    ‘the hosted network couldnt be started.
    a device attached to this system is not functioning’

  • amrit

    Man crazzzzzy!
    probably best in whole internet.

  • http://windows.appstorm.net/how-to/turn-your-pc-into-a-wifi-hot-spot/ORalexisnet.tk brownvilla

    i dont understand pls u guy can add me on your yahoo messenger and explain it to me very well anway good job

  • badal

    great. thank you

  • Huzaifa

    Hii.I tried 2nd option.But my mobile phone does not scan any network.It does not show my PC network.Help please !

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  • Chetan

    How to change password, I typed the above password and I don’t know how to change the password and ssid, please help me.

  • monir

    this is awesome\o/

  • Alex

    Hi
    Used the second path
    My iphone can see the network, lets me introduce the password but doesn’t connect to it
    Using windows 8

    thank you in advance :)

  • dhanraj

    it ask for a password when i try the hard way it wants a password

  • XP

    Will this work on windows XP? Please reply.

    • XP

      using PC.

  • reeiiko

    No matter what method I try none of my other devices can connect to the network, and even if they can the internet won’t work on them.

  • alan

    Hey, I did all the steps successfully but when I try and pick up the connection on my Sony Experia phone, it dosen’t pick it up, anyone know why?

  • http://windows.appstorm.net/how-to/turn-your-pc-into-a-wifi-hot-spot/#add miles

    thanks ,a lot of stress is gone out of me.exactly what i wanted.

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  • sadegh

    hello and thank you for this software .i should install this and this software say “can not be started
    help me

  • Raj

    Hi!

    Was excited that there was a simple software to instal and then I’d have a hotspot via my lap top. My lap top is connected to a wifi router. Then I have a DAX905 USB Wifi-G Adapter in the USB slot. But whebn I press the big buton it says cannot start virtual router. What’s the problem? Please help.

  • Nina

    Hi all, i have a problem. So far I’ve managed to share the connection from my laptop with my Samsung Nexus phone using the command line. But, whenever my hubby tries to connect with his laptop or netbook, the connection works for a moment (enough to open one or two pages) and then stops (if I’m connected with the phone, also that connection stops working). Still, my own connection continues working just fine. I figured it’s probably that the adapter in my laptop hangs. It can’t be disabled (the Device manager gets stuck if I try), and when I try to reboot my laptop, it gets stuck in the Shutting Down phase, and I have to shut it down manually. I’m using an external ALFA AWUS036H adapter with antenna, I think it has something to do with the problem. Before installing the adapter I used the integrated one (Atheros) and connection sharing with Connectify worked just fine. Anyone know if I’m doomed to use the integrated adapter (that in turn has problems getting a decent signal) or is there something I can do to fix this?

  • Piyush Jain

    Can’t get my USB dongle to get recognized by both of the procedures..can you explain why???

  • Jensen

    I tried it. But at last, I was getting a message as ” The group or resource is not in the correct state to perform the requested operation”. What will be the reason. I am using an usb modem.

  • udara

    Hey.
    Thank you so much. I followed your comand prompt method. That worked nice, I wasted hours searching how to do this. Thank you again!

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    this file have virus?? tell me please!

  • Umar

    i did as u said but during last step the command prompt says” a device attached is not functioning properly”

  • arun

    thanks for the great post..it worked the hard way!

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