Similar to earlier operating system versions, Windows 10 allows users to establish a software-based Wi-Fi hotspot, also known as an access point. This hotspot facilitates the creation of a local wireless network or the sharing of an Internet connection (wired or cellular 3G / 4G) among multiple devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and other devices. In initial Windows 10 releases, users could only create and administer such hotspots via the command prompt. However, starting with Windows 10 version 1607, a straightforward graphical interface for setting up an access point, termed "Mobile hotspot," was introduced..
Here, we'll explore the process of creating a Wi-Fi hotspot (virtual access point) on Windows 10 without relying on third-party tools. This guide assumes that your system features two network adapters: a wired Ethernet network card (connected to your provider's network) and a wireless Wi-Fi adapter. Our goal is to configure the computer with the Wi-Fi adapter to function as a Wi-Fi access point, allowing other devices to connect and share its Internet connection.
Step 1. Verify that your Wi-Fi Adapter Driver Supports Ad-Hoc Mode
When you execute the command in the Command Prompt window, it will provide details about the Wi-Fi adapter driver being utilized and the supported technologies. If you see the message "Hosted network supported: Yes," it indicates that this driver supports access point mode. If this message does not appear, consider updating the driver version or installing a different Wi-Fi adapter that supports access point mode.
Step 2. How to Enable Mobile Hotspot in Windows 10
With the introduction of Windows 10 1607 (Creators Update), a user-friendly graphical interface for sharing Internet over Wi-Fi was introduced, known as "Mobile Hotspot". To access this feature, navigate to Settings -> Network & Internet -> Mobile hotspot. To activate the access point, simply toggle on "Share your Internet connection with other devices". The name and password for the new Wi-Fi network will be generated automatically (although you can customize them if desired). Additionally, you can select the Internet connection that you wish to share with other devices under "Share my Internet connection from". If your computer is connected to only one Internet source, it will be automatically selected for sharing.
Within the same window, you'll find a list of devices currently connected to your WiFi hotspot. Each device's name and MAC address, along with the assigned IP address, are displayed. Notably, Windows 10 allows up to 8 devices to be connected to the access point simultaneously.
Common Windows 10 errors when Creating a Mobile Hotspot
If the error “We can’t set up mobile hotspot. Turn on Wi-Fi” appears when you trying to create an access point, try to update the driver for your Wi-Fi adapter and / or remove the virtual Microsoft Wi-Fi Direct Virtual Adapter according to the instruction. After that, restart your computer and try to turn on the mobile hotspot again.
Another error message you may encounter is: "We can’t set up mobile hotspot because your PC doesn’t have an Ethernet, Wi-Fi or cellular data connection". This error typically indicates issues with your internet connection, such as no network connection. Ensure that your connection is active and functioning properly. Additionally, this error may appear if you're connected to the provider through PPPoE. It's important to note that Windows 10 mobile hotspot does not support this type of connection.
How to Create a Virtual Wi-Fi Network Using Command Prompt
You can create a virtual Wi-Fi hotspot in Windows using command prompt. Suppose that you want to create a wireless network named Hotspot (this is the network SSID) with the password ZiZiPass. Run the command prompt (with the Administrator privileges) and execute the command: netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=Hotspot key=ZiZiPass
This command will create a new virtual Wi-Fi adapter in the system (Microsoft Wi-Fi Direct Virtual Adapter), which will be used by other wireless devices as a hotspot. Now, enable the created virtual adapter: netsh wlan start hostednetwork
“The hosted network started” message tells that a Wi-Fi access point has been successfully started.
Now, other Wi-Fi devices can see and connect to this access point. Devices connected to such a network can share documents and hardware peripherals, but the Internet access through such WiFi hotspot is still impossible.
How to Share Your Internet Connection using Wi-Fi Hotspot
Now you need to allow to use a wired network connection to access the Internet for all devices connected to the Wi-Fi virtual access point. To do it, in Network and Sharing Center click the name of the network adapter, which provides the Internet connection. In our example, it is connection Ethernet.In a network adapter statistics window click Properties.
In the network adapter properties window you must share your Internet connection. Go to Sharing tab in the Ethernet Properties window. Check the box “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection” and select the name of the virtual adapter created previously in the dropdown list.
After making these changes, be sure to save them. In the Network and Sharing Center, you will notice that the type of the Hotspot network has been changed to "Internet". This indicates that this network, and all devices connected to it, now have access to the Internet.
Now, all devices connected to the hotspot created on Windows 10 can access the Internet through the external network interface of the computer. You can test this by attempting to connect to the hotspot from your phone, tablet, or another laptop.
Viewing Mobile Hotspot Settings
The command will show various details including the network name (SSID), supported authentication and encryption types, the maximum number of devices that can simultaneously use this hotspot (Max number of clients), and the current number of connected clients (Number of clients).
The following command displays the various security settings for your Wi-Fi hotspot and connection keys: Netsh wlan show hostednetwork setting=securityNote: The hotspot on Windows 10 can’t work in the hidden SSID mode.