Virtual Router: create a wi-fi hotspot using a wifi-enabled PC and a wired internet connection

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Imagine the following situation: you have multiple wireless-enabled PCs or devices, a wired internet connection, and no wireless router to connect a wi-fi hotspot.

Would it be possible to use the wireless adapter from your PC to create a mobile hotspot that can be used to provide all of your wireless enabled devices with an internet connection?

The answer is yes, provided that (a) your PC runs Windows 7, and (b) you install and run a free program called Virtual Router.

Aside from being completely free, this program is noteworthy in that setting up your wireless hotspot is simplicity itself.: all you need to do is run the program, provide a a name and password for your network, and you’re done. Your wi-fi hotspot will be up and running within minutes.

Windows 7 (and Windows server 2008) have new ’Virtual Wifi’ and ’Wireless Hosted Network’ features that make it possible for your PC to set up a wi-fi hotspot, provided, of course, that the wifi device and its driver support this feature as well. This means that this software will have to run on Windows 7 to work but will not run on XP or Vista. If you are wondering whether your wifi device and router support these features the author of Visual Router provides a link to a list of known supported devices on his site (which I link to here). Here are more notes on this program:

  • Ease of use: as previously mentioned, I was able to get a wifi connection running almost instantly after install, and only had to set a password to do so.
  • Connection problems: if you are encountering problems check to see if you are connected to the internet using a wired internet connection and not wifi. Alternately, you might need to update the driver of your wifi device, or you device may not be compatible with the new Windows 7 features mentioned above. Check out the FAQ if you need to troubleshoot.
  • Encryption: WPA2 encryption by default.
  • Performance: was excellent; the wifi connection was fast and responsive; however, I do not know if the wifi connection is handicapped in any way compared to a “normal” wifi router for example. If you have some information and could shed light on this in the comments section Ii would be grateful.

The verdict: an excellent software that can be quite handy, and can get you up and running in two clicks. This program is still in beta, but works well; however it can at times be a little quirky when you attempt to shut it down.

Version Tested: 0.9.0.0 beta

Compatibility: requires Windows 7. Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 1000K).