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Turning your Windows PC into a Wi-Fi hotspot

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Setting it up

MSDN has a detailed explanation about the command-line instructions you need to run to enable the built-in Wi-Fi hotspot functionality of your Windows PC, but in a nutshell this is it:

  1. Start an Administrator command prompt (Win+X, A)

  2. Run:
    netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=YOUR_NETWORK_NAME key=YOUR_PASSWORD
    This sets up a "hosted network" with the network name and password specified. The password is required and has to be between 8 and 63 characters.

  3. Start the "hosted network" (i.e. your hotspot) with:
    netsh wlan start hostednetwork
    This will add a new network connection called "Local Area Connection* xx" where xx is a number. This is a "Microsoft Hosted Network Adapter". You can rename this connection to "Hotspot" or something similar.

According to MSDN, this will work from Windows 7 and up with certified Windows drivers for your Wi-Fi adapter. I've only tested this on Windows 10.

Next - and this is the crucial step! - you need to enable sharing on another network connection, allowing your hotspot to connect to the internet.

Sharing your Wi-Fi

When you're in a hotel and you can only connect a single device to its Wi-Fi network, you'll want to share your Wi-Fi connection:

  1. Open Network Connections (Win+X, W)
  2. Right-click the physical Wi-Fi adapter
  3. Click Properties
  4. Go to the Sharing tab
  5. Check "Allow other network users to connect though the computer's internet connection"
  6. Click OK

It's amazing, but the hotspot will maintain two simultaneous Wi-Fi networks - the hotel network you're actually connected to and the hosted network your PC broadcasts to allow it to function as a hotspot!

Sharing your cable

On the other hand, the problem may be that there is no Wi-Fi network available, only an Ethernet network cable. In that case you probably want to share your Ethernet connection:

  1. Open Network Connections (Win+X, W)
  2. Right-click the physical ethernet adapter
  3. Click Properties
  4. Go to the Sharing tab
  5. Check "Allow other network users to connect though the computer's internet connection"
  6. Select the newly created hotspot connection name ("Local Area Connection* xx" or "Hotspot") in the dropdown list
  7. Click OK

Either way, now you can connect your phone or any other Wi-Fi capable device to your new Wi-Fi hotspot. The hosted network seems to allows up to 100 devices to connect.

Stopping the hotspot

To stop the hotspot, launch an Administrator Command Prompt again and type:

netsh wlan stop hostednetwork

This will make your newly created network connection disappear from Network Connections.

Caution: DO NOT DISABLE THIS CONNECTION FROM NETWORK CONNECTIONS as this will permanently mess it up. You have to re-enable the adapter using Device Manager if this happens. Just use the command line - or create a batch file.