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How to turn your Windows 7 laptop into a Wi-Fi hotspot

Updated on March 5, 2010
Turn your Windows 7 laptop into a Wi-Fi hotspot
Turn your Windows 7 laptop into a Wi-Fi hotspot

A secret feature in Windows 7 allows you to take any internet connection and share it wirelessly and securely with any number of Wi-Fi enabled devices including laptops, phones, gaming systems, and more. The idea behind the feature is straightforward: let users simultaneously connect to multiple wireless networks with only one wireless card ... without any additional hardware, wires, or plugs.

Wi-Fi enabled devices can see and join your hotspot just like any other Wi-Fi access point and are kept safe and secure by rock solid WPA2-PSK/AES Encryption

This feature - Microsoft calls it 'Wireless Hosted Network' - remained hidden by default because of incompatibility issues with many devices and drivers. It actually turns your laptop into a router/Wi-Fi hotspot by implementing the virtualization of a physical wireless adapter into more than one virtual wireless adapter - also referred to as Virtual WiFi. A full technical description by Microsoft is available here

Getting started with wireless Hosted Networks

In order to use the wireless Hosted Network feature, your wireless adapter must be using drivers certified for Windows 7. If Windows detects a supported adapter, it will automatically add a connection to the Network Connections window, named 'Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport Adapter' - see Figure 1. If multiple supported-adapters exist, Windows will automatically choose the one to use for the wireless Hosted Network.


Figure 1
Figure 1

As you can see, the device is disabled by default - as is the feature.

One can activate both the device and the feature either through some command line scripts, or through the user friendly and free application 'Connectify'.

1. Activating your device and Wi-Fi hotspot with Connectify

Most users are likely to choose this option: the application provides for an easy setup procedure and resides in the Notification Tray, providing immediate customization of the network).

- Go to Connectify's Homepage, download the software (free, no registration required) and install it.

- Click on the Connectify logo in the Notification Tray.

* Select the Internet connection you wish to share
* Choose a name for your new wireless network
* Choose a wireless password - your wireless Access Point hotspot is encrypted with WPA2-Personal (AES) encryption
* If the Mode box is visible, select "Access Point" if it is in the menu, otherwise, use "Ad Hoc".
* Press the Start Hotspot Sharing button to turn on your wireless network
* Now, from your other devices, you can see your wireless network. Choose to join it, and enter the wireless password to connect.

2. Activating your device and Wi-Fi hotspot through command line scripts

More advanced users can activate the device and Wi-Fi hotspot through command line scripts (please run all Command Prompts with Administrative permissions)

a) Set the parameters for your Wi-Fi hotspot (first choose a name for your Wi-Fi hotspot and a password key)

run : netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=Hotspot key=passwordhere (where ssid = your Wi-Fi hotspot name, and key = your password key)

b) Start the network adapter

run : netsh wlan start hostednetwork

c) Share the connection

- Open Network and Sharing Center, right click on "Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport Adapter",
- Go to Properties --> Sharing,
- Select 'Allow other network users to connect through this computer's Internet connection',
- Click 'Select a private network connection' and select your active internet connection,
- Click OK and close all tabs.

d) Disabling the Wi-Fi Hotspot

run : netsh wlan stop hostednetwork

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    • profile image

      onlineresources 

      2 years ago

      There is another great way of creating Win 7 wifi hotspot. It doesn't require any software or configuration.http://techqy.com/whatsapp-new-version-4-0-0-with-...

    • profile image

      mohsin 

      3 years ago

    • profile image

      finaldraft 

      4 years ago

      I have a need for this type of setup when we visit resort in usa for a fewmonths in winter. resort only allows two connections (wifi) and charges us $50/month!

      i tried connectify, but found that when others were using my hotspot, my computer became very slow, to point it was almost unusable. it is a bit old Toshiba Satellite with Athlon 64X2, 4Gb etc.

      what I did, was scrap Connectify and use the bridge feature built into Windows. laptop would be logged intoresort wifi. bridgeconnects to ethernet port from which cable runs to travel router whichis configured to act as hotspot. no slowdown of my computer.

      Does your method run any faster than connectify or Google?

    • profile image

      ramesh 

      4 years ago

      what settings we provide to users that he will able to install data card and wifi without administrator password in window 7

    • profile image

      naksh 

      4 years ago

      8305422640 help me

    • profile image

      Brown 

      4 years ago

      the "wireless network connecton" in fig 1 remains disabled

      after doing "step b" it is showing :

      "the hosted network couldn't be started.

      the resource is not in the correct state to perform the requested operation."

      my comptr spprts hosted netwrk,

      what should i do..??

    • profile image

      Chandrakanth 

      4 years ago

      Thank you now i got my wifi

    • SpaceShanty profile image

      SpaceShanty 

      4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Very useful Hub! Thanks

    • profile image

      Red 

      5 years ago

      Thank you Very Much...its Working fine for me..........

    • profile image

      Shehzad 

      5 years ago

      Absolutely marvelous. Though a little hitch. Instead of sharing the wifi mini port, one has to share the active connection to internet and there select the wifi mini port (other way round than what the esteemed author has mentioned, no pun intended). After doing this doodle I am able to connect my two smart phones and a tablet. It is a relief getting away from the third party softwares because of their limited trial versions, unsolicited software bundles and need to updates. Best wishes for the author.

    • profile image

      rondmx 

      5 years ago

      vitual hotspot....works for me

    • profile image

      Mlow 

      5 years ago

      Works perfectly!

    • profile image

      Naresh 

      5 years ago

      Really helpful and worked perfetly!

    • profile image

      Manoj 

      5 years ago

      I installed virtual router in my machine(win 7).

      Shared Connections tab is disabled in mine(i am connected to internet through my dongle).

      Don't know what might be the problem :\

      Any kind of help is appreciated :-)

    • profile image

      dummy 

      5 years ago

      What? how can everyone able to connect? I did the steps but my phone can't find the connection???

    • profile image

      fanani 

      5 years ago

      Hi, Jean! Thank you for the article. It surely works. I enjoy browsing and downloading on my cell phone now. I activate my device and Wi-Fi hotspot through command line scripts. I don't have to pay for the different data connection for my laptop and my cell phone now. Thank you very much. I'll forward your article content to my friends.

    • profile image

      chanmoon 

      6 years ago

      Hi!

      I am not able to find wifi mini port is there any way to install

    • profile image

      ZeT 

      6 years ago

      Hi!

      After I click 'Select a private network connection' and select your active internet connection, and then I click ok, I get the following error:

      "An error occurred while Internet Connection Sharing was being enabled. (null)".

      Do you know how can I solve this problem?

      I've used Connectify PRO for 1 month but the it stopped working and wouldn't work again after 2 or 3 uninstalls... I desperately need wifi on my android phone now.

      Please respond me ASAP.

      Thanks for your time!

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      jeanvaljean 

      6 years ago

      @Ideasoftor,

      Didn't know about Virtual Hotspot. Looks very similar indeed. Thanks for the tip !

    • profile image

      Ideasoftor 

      6 years ago

      I'm using another similar free software--- Virtual Hotspot. It's easy to install and use. Only several clicks. I never have problem to connect my iPhone to the free hotspot. Try Google Virtual Hotspot.

    • profile image

      Herb 

      6 years ago

      No way this is going to work. Way too many steps and too many chances of something not working. :-/

    • profile image

      Esso 

      7 years ago

      Worked like a charm, this program is awesome; thanks so much for the article!!

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