1. Computing

Wi-Fi Internet Sharing: Turn Your Windows 7 Laptop Into a Wi-Fi Hotspot

By

Connectify turns your Windows 7 laptop into a wi-fi hotspot or access point

Connectify turns your Windows 7 laptop into a wi-fi hotspot or access point

Connectify
Many of us these days have more than one device that we'd like (or need) Internet connection for -- smartphones and tablets, laptops and mobile Internet devices. Hefty tethering charges and fees for wi-fi hotspot access when you're away from home or traveling can add up for all those devices; it isn't always economical to pay to have all of them connected. Thankfully, there's free software called Connectify that can turn your Windows 7 laptop into a wi-fi hotspot or wi-fi access point of sorts, sharing its Internet connection over wi-fi with any other nearby wireless devices (any wireless-capable device, running Windows 7 or not). Here's how to use Connectify to get wi-fi Internet access on multiple devices through your Windows 7 laptop.

Note: If you have a wired Internet connection (e.g., one Ethernet connection in your hotel room) or a 3G cellular data modem for your computer, you can also use Internet Connection Sharing, a built-in Windows feature to share an Internet connection. See How to Share Internet Access (XP), Share an Internet Connection on Windows Vista, or Share an Internet Connection on Windows 7. If you have a Mac, you can Share Your Mac's Internet Connection via Wi-Fi as well.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 20 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Download and install Connectify (from CNet).
  2. Click on the Connectify logo in the Notification Tray at the bottom right of your desktop (the icon looks like a radio wave).
  3. Select the Internet connection you want to share.
  4. Now you'll create a wi-fi hotspot: choose a name for your wireless network.
  5. Choose a wireless password. The network is encrypted with WPA2-AES encryption.
  6. Select "Access Point" mode to turn your laptop into a wi-fi access point; if it's not available you'll have to choose "Ad Hoc", which is less secure and has other limitations (learn about ad hoc wireless networks)
  7. Click the Start Hotspot Sharing button to turn on the wi-fi network
  8. On the client devices, you should be able to see the new wi-fi network you just created and use standard wi-fi connection instructions to connect to that wireless network.

Tips:

  1. Connectify can also be used to extend the range of your home wireless router. Install it on your Windows 7 laptop, connect to your home network and start the hotspot service, and you can extend the wi-fi signal.
  2. If you have problems using Connectify with your wireless adapter, try updating the wireless drivers either from Windows Update or your laptop manufacturer's support site.
  3. See the Connectify.me site for other troubleshooting issues.

What You Need

  • a Windows 7 computer with wireless adapter
  • client computers with wireless adapters
  • Connectify software (free)
  • Internet access for the Windows 7 computer

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.