Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Wireless HotSpot using your laptop (Windows 7 and Windows 8)

I get to travel around and I have stayed in a number of hotels. One of the most important things for me is Internet access during my stay. I have been to hotels (major hotel chains) where the WiFi signal is so weak in the room that sometimes you need stand by the open door in order to send an email. That is not very convenient, so I needed a quick solution in such cases. By creating a hotspot using your laptop's Wireless adapter, you can have a very strong signal anywhere in the room to access the Internet from any other devices you may have with you (e.g. mobile phone).

I am assuming that your laptop has both an Ethernet port and a Wireless adapter. Before you start check Windows Updates to make sure you have all the latest security updates and the latest drivers for your Ethernet card and the Wireless adapter (consider rebooting if needed).

[Step 1]: Due to the fact it is not common to find an Ethernet socket in a hotel room for Internet access, you will need something like a Wireless Pocket Router to have with you. (If you have access to an Ethernet Socket, then just connect the laptop and move to Step 2.) This device will be able to connect to the WiFi and give you Internet access over the Ethernet port of your laptop. The pocket router is also USB powered which makes it very convenient when travelling (it creates a NAT so, it is very useful gadget from security perspective as well). 

[Step 2]: Once you have your Internet access working through your Ethernet port as usual (or through your Wireless Pocket Router, over your laptop's Ethernet port) turn on the Wireless adapter on your laptop. Get the Command Prompt up and running (use "Run as Administrator" if you are not admin) and type:

netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=MyHotSpot key=MySecretKey

The SSID value is the name of your hotspot which is going to be broadcasted.
The KEY value is the password you need to use for accessing your hotspot
Also, you need to run the following command in order to start the hosted network you've just set up:

netsh wlan start hostednetwork

Just one more thing now and  you are done. Open the "Network and Sharing Centre", and click the "Change adapter settings". Locate your Local Area Connection, Right-Click on it and select Properties. Go to the Sharing tab and check the "Allow other network users to connect through this computer's Internet connection" and select the Wireless Network Connection you just made from the drop down menu.Once you click OK, you will be able to see your new hotspot and connect to it from any other WiFi enabled device!

By the way, if you want to stop your newly created hotspot from broadcasting, you can run the command:

netsh wlan stop hostednetwork

On a side note, I always prefer knowing exactly what I am doing to my system. However, if you feel like you need a GUI application to automate the whole process you may want to have a look at the Virtual Router application.


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