Virtual Router

How to use your laptop to broadcast your broadband connection. Share a wired web connection via Wi-Fi when using Windows 8. (See also: How to set up a spare router to expand your Wi-Fi network coverage.)

QUESTION I have a new Windows 8.1 laptop, which I use plugged into a wired network for internet access. I would like to share this wired connection with my phone and tablet via Wi-Fi.

This used to be easy on my old Windows 7 laptop, where I could simply set up the connection using the new connection option in the Network and Sharing Center, but I can't find the option on Windows 8.1. Can you help?

HELPROOM ANSWER The method of setting this up under Windows 8.1 is different, but still possible. If you want an easy life, you could download a freeware utility such as Virtual Router to set it up for you, which will provide you with a dialog-driven interface to set up connection sharing for you.

Alternatively, you can use commands built in to Windows 8.1 to share the connection without the need for additional software. Open up a command prompt with Administrator access by typing Windows+x and then selecting Command Prompt (Admin).

In this window, you'll need to type the following command to create a hosted wireless network to which your other devices can connect:

netsh wlan set hostednetwork ssid=MYNETWORKNAME key=MYPASSWORD

Replace MYNETWORKNAME with the chosen name for your wireless network as it will appear to other devices when they scan for networks. You'll also need to substitute MYPASSWORD with your chosen password to join your network. It can't be blank as WPA2 encryption is enforced as part of the setup.

Next, start the network with the following command:

netsh wlan start hostednetwork

This should cause your new wireless network to become visible to your other devices, enabling them to connect using your specified password.

To enable these devices to access the internet connection on your laptop, you'll need to share it with your new wireless network. Go to the Windows control panel and click on Network and Sharing Center. Find the entry for your wired internet connection, click it and then click on the properties button near the bottom.

Select the Sharing tab and tick the box marked 'Allow other network users to connect through this computer's internet connection'. In the drop-down menu under 'Home networking connection', choose the name of the wireless connection you created earlier and click OK.

If you want to turn off your shared connection, you can open an Administrator command prompt and type:

netsh wlan stop hostednetwork

Hope this all helps!

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