Sharing internet over Wi-fi has become quite popular now a days. Since service providers themselves are providing Wi-fi routers, accessing internet on multiple devices such as laptops, PDAs, mobile phones with a single internet connection has become very easy.
But if you have a normal broadband connection and want to create your own wireless network for sharing internet, either you can buy a Wi-Fi router which costs around 2500 INR or use the Windows 7’s Wireless Hosted Network (Virtual Wi-fi) technology which will turn your Windows 7 Laptop in to a Wi-Fi hotspot without any additional hardware. If you want to share internet with a desktop that doesn’t support Wi-Fi, you can get a USB Wi-Fi adapter or a PCI Wireless network card.
If you are wondering what a Wi-Fi Hotspot is, well it is simply put a device that enables users to access internet over wireless LAN. Now how do we set up our Windows 7 machine to act like a Wi-Fi Hotspot? Well actually there are couple of ways to do it.
Windows 7 comes with a feature called Ad-hoc network (This was available on Windows Vista also), using which you can share internet with another device. I tried the same but did not feel it to be quite impressive. Here is a youtube video which explains how to do it.
Better and easier way is to use a tool called Called Connectify Me
Once you are done with the wizard, you can start the hotspot by clicking on Start Hotspot, which will make the network available for other devices. Just scan for the wireless network on another device, key in the password and you are done.
Connectify sits on your system tray and displays the number of clients connected to the network. Now starting and stopping the wireless network is just a click of button. Connectify also enables local sharing such as file sharing. All your shared folders will be available on the network, all you need to do is enter your windows login id and password to access your files wirelessly on another device.
This was a simple click and go method, but if you are interested in exploring more read on.
If you wanted more features and wanted to change the functionality of the sharing then there is more for you.
There is a Open Source tool called Virtual Router on codeplex, which is entirely developed in C# 3.5 with WPF. Now comes the real fun, just download the code and create your own version of the Virtual Router…! You can go ahead and add a module to limit the internet bandwidth shared on the wireless network. You can add a module which logs all the URLs browsed on the wireless network for each connection, in case if you are planning to use it in an office environment, this will be helpful.
I tried both Connectify Me and Virtual Router from My Windows 7 laptop and could access internet on other devices such as another laptop, an iPhone, a blackberry mobile without any hiccups.
This is a guest post by my friend and another techie, Amitkumar Hegde.