Laptop as a Wireless Router

You may some day come across the rare situation of temporarily needing an extra wireless router.  I can’t really think of a good example, but I know that I encountered such a situation yesterday.  I decided I would write up an article as it may prove useful to others that may find themselves in a similar situation some day.

I had a PC lying around that was still quite usable, but I only had one monitor. Eventually I decided it would be worthwhile to purchase a second monitor so that my wife could make use of the computer. We also decided we would put it into a separate room, so it would not be located adjacent to the other computer and Internet connection. In addition to the monitor, I also ordered a wireless router, wireless keyboard, and a wireless mouse to use with the machine.

Well, as it so happened, the monitor arrived in a separate shipment before the router and peripherals did. After I had nearly completed hooking everything up, my wife informed me that she wanted to get online with it to buy some music for her iPod. Of course, this PC was the home machine for the iPod. I really didn’t feel like moving everything back to the office, hook it all up so she could get online and get her music, then move it back to the permanent home. I then had a revelation and realized I could use my laptop as a wireless router.

Diagram for Laptop as a Router

Here are the basic requirements for using your laptop as a wireless router:

  • A laptop with a wireless network device as well as an ethernet device (duh!)
  • A wireless router that is hard-wired to your Internet connection
  • A hub or router for connecting to the laptop and other machines (alternatively, you could use a crossover cable)
  • At least two ethernet cables, one for the laptop and one for other machines

I was fortunate I had an old hub stashed away within the depths of my gadget closet and had plenty of unused ethernet cables lying around.  Basically all you need to do is:

  1. Connect the laptop to the hub via one of the ethernet cables
  2. Connect the computer(s) to the hub via the other ethernet cable(s)
  3. If you use a crossover cable instead of a hub, you would connect the ethernet port on the computer directly to the one on the laptop.

  4. Connect the laptop to the wireless hub with the laptop’s wireless device (you are probably already doing this)
  5. Set up Internet connection sharing on the laptop to share the wireless device
  6. Network Connections Window

    Network Connections Window

    Internet Connection Sharing

    Internet Connection Sharing

    If you are using Windows XP:

  7. Launch the control panel
  8. Go to your network connections
  9. Right-click on the wireless device and go to properties
  10. Click the Advanced tab
  11. In the Internet Connection Sharing section, click the check box that says Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection
  12. Click OK

That’s all there is to it! This will also work fine with a Mac or Vista laptop. I don’t have either, so I’m not at liberty to provide step-by-step instructions and screen shots. The physical setup would be exactly the same. You would just have to take different steps to set up Internet connection sharing. Just be sure that you set it up to share the connection on the wireless device.

About GeekLad

Geeklad is a technology enthusiast and programming hobbyist. Occasionally he will put together useful little bits of code (be it JavaScript or PHP) and share them with the world. He also enjoys creating and sharing howtos, describing how to do the things people want to do with their computers.
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  • alvaro

    hola saludos me podrias decir si esto funciona con un modem de 56k

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    Sí, es posible. La computadora con el módem de 56k también necesita una conexión de network para conectar con el wireless router. Compartas la conexión del Internet en el módem de 56k con el network. Conecta la tarjeta de network en la conexión de Internet (enlace ascendente) del router. Todo lo demás en la configuración sería la misma.

  • http://www.dailydigitals.com digital camera review

    wow..great idea! I think I will try this at my home :)

  • dominik

    You probably ment, you ordered a wireless network card? Why else would u use a laptop as a router. If you already had one, right?

    (and thanx for this article. I had a lan party down in the basement yesterday. So I brought down my asus eee, connected to my wireless router and viola. Thank you.

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    No I had ordered a wireless router that I was going to install DD-WRT onto to use as a wireless bridge. Essentially, I was going to use it in the same manner as one would use a wireless network card. If you're curious as to what I did exactly, you can check out a MakeUseOf tutorial I wrote on turning an old router into a wireless bridge.

  • http://www.sylvancompany.com/ Microdermabrasion Machine

    Wow.. very interesting.. i m impressed.

  • http://outofrangeblog.blogspot.com Renzo

    OMG…. i just though this morning if my laptop can be wireless sharing with laptop. its really late for me to know this but im happy that i know my laptop can share it with other. thanks for the information ^^, i'll come often so i'll will not miss anything again.

  • Cog

    If you use a crossover ethernet cable directly between the wireless laptop and computer you can don't need the hub

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    That's a very good point, thanks! I'll update the post and mention that.

  • Wesley

    On Windows Vista you would access “Wireless Internet Connection Properties” by Opening control panel, selecting “Network and Internet” and then “Manage Wireless Networks.” Above all of the available wireless networks is a button that says “Adapter Properties.” After that its basically the same.

    J.W.Kent PhD

  • nothingcanbedone

    in the advanced tab there is windows firewall but there is not internet connection sharing please help me what to do?

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    If you don't see Internet connection sharing, it's because you only have one network adapter. For this to work, the laptop needs both an Ethernet adapter and wireless adapter.

  • http://www.50ftethernetcable.net 50 ft Ethernet Cable

    I'm so love this blog, already bookmarked it! Thanks.

  • Neliuz

    Hi guys :)

    Thanks for the post, really great one! Everything that i need! But.. got one question regarding this thred.
    When you say that i can use a hud/router. Can i use my wireless router for this purpouse? Like not use a cable to my other computer that will get the internet from the laptop. But use the wireless signals to get internet from the wireless router.
    Is that possible?

    Thanks :)

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    If you have a wireless router, then you wouldn't need to be using your laptop as a wireless router.

  • Jack & Bunny G.W.

    My acer laptop and hp desktop both are running xp. That was not my problem with the direct connect method that uses my acer as the hub. when I check the allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection, and click ok the error message that came up said “Internet Connection Sharing be cannot enabled. A LAN connection is already configured with the IP address that is required for automatic IP addressing.

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    You are probably using 192.168.0.1 as the IP of your network adapter.
    Windows uses this IP for ICS, so you'll need to set it to something else
    (such as 192.168.1.1).

  • Michael

    thank you thank you thank you.
    This is exactly what I needed to know to connect a POS terminal server to the network via my laptop

  • Unknown Abyss

    Awesome dude, should be helpful for the LAN party today

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    Glad to help, have fun!

  • Me

    I really don't get this… The title is “Use a Laptop as a Wirelles Router” and one of the basic requirements is a …wirelles router? :))

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    You need a main wireless router to transmit a signal for the main Internet

    connection. The laptop behaves as a wireless router for additional

    computers that do not have wireless adapters to connect to the main wireless

    router. It's good for connecting desktop computers in other rooms that do

    not have wireless adapters.

    A wireless LAN party is a great example why you might want to set this up.

    Everyone has desktop computers which take up a lot of space, so they need

    to set up all of them in a dining room. However, the dining room has no

    internet connection or wireless router. With my configuration you could

    use a single laptop as the wireless router for all of the desktop computers

    in the LAN party.

  • Me

    I really don't get this… The title is “Use a Laptop as a Wirelles Router” and one of the basic requirements is a …wirelles router? :))

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    You need a main wireless router to transmit a signal for the main Internet

    connection. The laptop behaves as a wireless router for additional

    computers that do not have wireless adapters to connect to the main wireless

    router. It's good for connecting desktop computers in other rooms that do

    not have wireless adapters.

    A wireless LAN party is a great example why you might want to set this up.

    Everyone has desktop computers which take up a lot of space, so they need

    to set up all of them in a dining room. However, the dining room has no

    internet connection or wireless router. With my configuration you could

    use a single laptop as the wireless router for all of the desktop computers

    in the LAN party.

  • Dynamic Genesis

    Hi,

    I use linux, how can I go about…. (I know that I will need a crossover cable since I don’t have a hub)
    I just need help in linux because I don’t know much about the O.S.

    I am using Ubuntu 10.04, thanks!

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    It’s been some time since I’ve used Ubuntu, so I’m not really sure. I’m not
    sure if Ubuntu 10.04 has a way to do this via the desktop interface, but I
    wouldn’t be surprised if it does. I would suggest checking the Ubuntu
    forums for information on bridging wireless and wired network adapters.

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    No problem. Thanks for coming back and providing the link to the info on
    the Ubuntu solution.

  • Yogesh Sharma

    Hi, i have problem connecting my nokia x6 to my laptop through wifi, i did all the settings in my laptop but when i want to brouse internet on my mobile it shows invalid server name, but some times the same setting work.
    Plz help me how to tackle it.
    Thanks

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    Are you trying to use it as a wireless router?

  • Yogesh Sharma

    yes.

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    If it works sometimes, it’s most likely that you have a weak signal to the
    main wireless router.

  • Tom Middlecoat

    hi, im trying to do this using a home hub 3, but every time i plug it in, my computer decides to try connect through the hub instead, can you help? thanks. 

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    From what I see online about the Home Hub 3, although it’s name would indicate otherwise, it’s actually a router. A hub doesn’t provide any routing capability at all, it only provides a means for computers to connect directly to each other via an ethernet connection. I’m not sure if there is any way to use a Home Hub without any routing.

    One thing that may help prevent computers from connecting to it, would be to disable the DHCP server on the Home Hub if that is possible to do. Without DHCP and using a different DHCP server or manually assigning IPs, the Home Hub should function very much like a hub.

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    From what I see online about the Home Hub 3, although it’s name would indicate otherwise, it’s actually a router. A hub doesn’t provide any routing capability at all, it only provides a means for computers to connect directly to each other via an ethernet connection. I’m not sure if there is any way to use a Home Hub without any routing.

  • Kurtistrainor

    Is there anyway to do this without the hub or crossover cable?

    I’m guessing i cant just run the ethernet cable from my laptop to my desktop…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KWSGSUQQOSNFVFPZXJ265B7QCM Anton

    Yes can we do this without any external hub, because in laptop there is one or more ethernet plug in port / hub.

  • http://geeklad.com GeekLad

    The password and security settings would need to be set on the main wireless router. Then you set the security settings on the wireless laptop to match those on the main wireless router.

  • Thomas O’Neill

    I’m having a problem with this, as I am connecting my laptop via HARDWIRE to the DSL router, then wanting to broadcast a wireless signal to connect my android smartphone…

  • GreatfulGreg

    i have a smart tv connected via lan to my laptop, my laptop connects to internet via WIFI, lan and WIFI on laptop are bridged, both connect to the internet and each others shares etc, my PS3 is conected to internet via the SAME WIFI and it can connect to the internet but not access anything on the shares/home network etc? can anyone advise me how i can get local network access on my PS3 with this configuration, thanks