How to Turn Your Windows Computer Into a WiFi Router

Updated on May 5, 2016
Turn your computer into a Virtual Wireless Router
Turn your computer into a Virtual Wireless Router
USB Network Adapter
USB Network Adapter | Source

Hardware requirements

It is possible to share an Internet connection with wireless-ready devices without using a WiFi router. Nevertheless, your computer does need special hardware to have such a capability.

Most modern laptops already have internal wireless network adapters, and even some desktops. If you have an older laptop with no WiFi capabilities you'll need to buy a wireless network card or a USB network adapter (this works for both laptops and desktops).

For a desktop you can use a USB network adapter (as mentioned above) or an internal wireless PCI card.

System Requirements
System Requirements | Source

System and hardware requirements

Wireless Hosted Network is a WLAN feature available in Windows 7,8 and in Windows Server 2012/2008 R2 with the Wireless Lan Service installed. The wireless Hosted Network is what makes it possible for your computer to virtualize a physical wireless adapter into multiple virtual wireless adapters. Long story short, only the above mentioned editions of Windows support this feature.

In this tutorial you will learn how to use Virtual Router, a free application that lets you easily create a wireless Internet connection from any other active connection that's present on your computer. Virtual Router supports only Windows 7, 8 and 2008 R2, so if you want to turn your computer into a virtual WiFi router and its running under Windows Server 2012 you can either use another program or the Windows built-in settings.

Concerning hardware, your computer needs to have a wireless device and driver supporting the Windows Virtual Wifi and Wireless Hosted Network features. If the drivers are Windows 7/8 certified, they should be supported by Virtual Router. If you're not sure, check out the list of known supported devices on the developer's page.

Step 1 - Download and Install

After you made sure your computer is wireless-ready you need to download Virtual Router. This is a free application so you don't have to pay anything for it. Once you've downloaded the installer, double-click on it to start the setup.

The installation process for Virtual Router is extremely simple. All you have to do is agree with the license terms and proceed to the setup window where you can select the installation folder and whether you want to install the program for just the current Windows user or all users. If you're not sure what to do with these options, leave the default settings and click the "Next" button.

Virtual Router Setup

Virtual Router Setup
Virtual Router Setup

Step 2 - Settings

Now it's time to actually use Virtual Router, so double-click the application to run it. By default, the application runs in the system tray. To open Virtual Router Manager (the program's interface) double-click the tray icon. Make sure you are connected to the Internet using the connection you want to share.

The settings are straightforward:

1. Fill in the network's name (SSID) - This can be any name you want, although you should choose a relevant one so you know that's your shared Internet Connection.

2. Choose a password - Since a virtual router works just like the physical device, you need a password to prevent unauthorized intruders from using your Internet Connection.

3. Select the connection you want to share from the drop-down menu - You can use the Refresh button if you've connected to it while the Virtual Router Manager was already open and it wasn't showing up in the list.

4. Start Virtual Router - Press this button, once you've completed all the settings to enable your shared connection.

Virtual Router Manager

Virtual Router Manager
Virtual Router Manager

Shared Connection

Step 3 - Test the shared Internet Connection

If everything went well and Virtual Router is started you should be seeing your newly created connection in the Windows connections list.

Your computer should be currently connected to two connections: the connection you've shared, and the one you've just created.

To connect to it with any wireless-ready device (phone, laptop, tablet...etc) simply select the appropriate network and fill in the password, like you would for any other connection. Voila! You are now successfully sharing your Internet connection!

Erm......errors anyone?
Erm......errors anyone?

Step 4 - Troubleshooting

"The group or resource is not in the correct state to perform the requested operation

This is the most common error you can get from Virtual Router. There's a number of reasons for this error and several fixes, but you can't know which one works for you until you try them. After each step you should try to start Virtual Router to see if it solved your problem.

  • The first step is to make sure your wireless adapter has the latest drivers. You can find in in the Windows Device Manager under Network Adapters.
  • The second step, you need to make sure the hosted network can run. To do that, press the Windows Start button, open "Run" and type cmd to open a Command Prompt window (you'll need administrator rights). In the window type : netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow
  • To continue, check if the Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport Adapter is enabled. It's also under the Network Adapters section in the Windows Device Manager. Double-click it and the Properties window will pop-up. If under Device Status you see the message : "This device is disabled (Code 22). Click Enable Device to enable this device." it means it wasn't running and you do need to enable it.
  • If the previous step didn't work either, there's a Microsoft hotfix available for a common problem that can occur on computers running under Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. You can download it from here.

Wireless Router
Wireless Router | Source

Other issues

If you experience other problems with Virtual Router the first thing you can do is check if your wireless device's drivers are up to date and that you didn't give your shared connection the same SSID of a network you already have. After that take a look at the developer's F.A.Q since your problem can be listed there.

If Virtual Router doesn't work for you, try out some alternatives. Connectify Hotspot is also a very popular and capable application, although the free version (Lite) has limited functionality. Another free tool for wireless sharing of Internet connections is Virtual Router Plus, which was created as an improved version of Virtual Router that also supports Windows 2012.

Turn your computer into a virtual wireless router

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  • Aliya Crox profile image

    Aliya Crox 20 months ago

    We tested some popular apps that let you do this - Connective and Virtual Router Plus. The latter didn't work very well for us. Our anti-virus flagged it as a threat and during installation it tried to make us install unwanted software.Check this useful link

  • RobertConnorIII profile image

    Robert Connor 3 years ago from Michigan

    great advice!

  • sara0129 profile image

    Shamim Rajabali 3 years ago from Texas

    Good to know. Thanks for the info.

  • Shaohua Li profile image

    Shaohua Li 3 years ago from Singapore

    Please note in Windows 8 the important device is renamed as "Microsoft Hosted Network Virtual Adapter" (clicking "show hidden devices" in device manager). If you encounter the error "The group or resource is not in the correct state to perform the requested operation", make sure this device is enabled. This device will be disabled if you accidentally disable the Virtual Router network adapter.

  • Technogala profile image

    Technogala 3 years ago

    I saw your article for right time.It's help me lot.Thanks for sharing

  • JamesWhitaker profile image

    James N. Whitaker 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

    This is interesting and I guess we are going to try this st home. Just like setting up a small network. Thanks.

  • suraj-chaudhary profile image

    Suraj Chaudhary 3 years ago from Punjab

    It is really nice article.. I used it on my system and it working........

    Thanks for sharing......

  • profile image

    Kampua 3 years ago

    I think this will be much more reliable than most on the shelf Wireless APs as the computer will have much more powerful CPU and more RAM.

  • rustedmemory profile image

    David Hamilton 3 years ago from Lexington, KY

    Very cool demo! This could come in handy sometime.

  • MPG Narratives profile image

    Marie Giunta 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    We were only talking about this at my work, our IT guys were trying to tell us how to do it. Of course, I was totally confused! Thanks for sharing this filecluster because now I have a step by step right in front of me.

  • odlanar profile image

    Odlanar 3 years ago from Ca.


  • gamerjimmy23 profile image

    Jimmy Gent 4 years ago from California

    Good information, definitely worth sharing. Don't you just love the tech age we live in? I cannot begin to envision what life will be like in 20-30 years from now. Perhaps a Star Wars-like world will come to fruition...

  • Hezekiah profile image

    Hezekiah 4 years ago from Japan

    Interesting, but so many devices can becomes routers/hot spots nowadays

  • filecluster profile image

    Alexandra Vasiliu 4 years ago from Timisoara, Romania

    No it doesn't. It simply allows you to wirelessly share the Internet connection you already have (which I'm guessing isn't free).

  • moronkee profile image

    Moronke Oluwatoyin 4 years ago

    First, thank you for sharing this knowledge. Technology is dynamic and one has to keep up to date.

    I'll have to read the steps again before I try it.

    The question is, does it provide free internet service?

  • Alfin Loencontre profile image

    Alfin Loencontre 4 years ago

    Very interesting article, thanks for the information.

  • WestelCS profile image

    Tim Anthony 4 years ago

    This is indeed a nice knowledge base. People could surely use it. I did that with my laptop. But, it failed to connect with mobile phones. Now I understand why. I will try to do it once more with the technique you have described.

  • kennetjames profile image

    Kenneth James 4 years ago

    Nice article. Thanks you

  • ravenrage07 profile image

    John Fox 4 years ago from Richmond, VA

    Wow I had no idea I could do that with my computer I have in my room. Now I can get faster speeds on my phone! Thanks man! Voted up and following now!

  • Ms Dee profile image

    Deidre Shelden 4 years ago from Texas, USA

    Oh, right! If one has a limited allowance of data connection with their wireless plan, a connection via PC can allow for more. Great!

  • filecluster profile image

    Alexandra Vasiliu 4 years ago from Timisoara, Romania

    The first one that comes to mind is you can't use or have limited monthly traffic on your phone's data connection.

  • Ms Dee profile image

    Deidre Shelden 4 years ago from Texas, USA

    Interesting as I'd not heard about Virtual Router. Question: What would be the purpose for connecting one's cell phone wirelessly to one's PC? (Showing my ignorance :/ .)

  • filecluster profile image

    Alexandra Vasiliu 4 years ago from Timisoara, Romania

    Thanks. I'm glad this can be useful for some people.

  • Nicole S profile image

    Nicole S Hanson 4 years ago from Minnesota

    Very interesting. Much too over-my-head, but it seems useful if you know what you are doing!

  • ajayshah2005 profile image

    ajayshah2005 4 years ago from Mid Asia

    Very Informative Hub.Thanks for sharing!