How to Use my Laptop as a Router

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Updated February 12, 2023

If you are experimenting with the various features of a wireless network, such as how many IP addresses your router has, you may wonder how to use a laptop as a router. The best routers, after all, are multifunctional, but can laptops act as routers in a pinch? Keep reading to find out.


  • A standard Windows laptop can act as a wireless router in a pinch, as long as you have a cable modem, an Ethernet port, and an Ethernet cable.
  • Start by making the Ethernet connection, and then using the host computer to create an ad hoc network.
  • Once successfully created, other devices within range should be able to connect to the ad hoc network via WiFi connections.

Laptops Doubling as Routers

Generally speaking, most laptops can be used as an ad hoc router when absolutely necessary. When would this come in handy? If you lack a router but you have an Ethernet cable to connect the laptop to the modem, or in situations where you have too many devices needing simultaneous access to a network. This is a relatively complicated process, however, and much more difficult than, say, learning where to place a router or finding out how many ethernet ports a router has, which is very simple.

Insider Tip

A smartphone can also be used to tether a satellite signal to devices within range.

Here are the steps to get your laptop operating as a router, which will also be useful if you want to learn how to connect two computers with a router.

How to Use a Laptop as a Router

STEP 1 Plug in Your Laptop

Make sure you have a laptop computer running a popular operating system (Windows or Mac OS) and plug it directly into your cable modem with an Ethernet cable. Windows computers work best for this scenario, as the process is much simpler.

STEP 2 Enable ICS

To enable Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) in Windows laptops, start by opening the Control Panel and clicking on the Network and Sharing Center. Make sure you are in icon view and not category view. Click on Change Adapter Settings in the left-hand menu. Right-click on Local Area Connection and choose Properties. Click on the Sharing tab to allow other network users to use this computer’s Internet connection.

STEP 3Create an Ad Hoc Network

Head to the Network and Sharing Center and click to Set Up a New Connection or Network. Next, scroll down and click Setup a Wireless Ad Hoc Network. Follow the prompts.

STEP 4 Connect and Share the Network

Connect to the network on the host computer by clicking on the network icon. It should read “Shared” and “Waiting for Users.” On client computers or gadgets, click the network icon and look for the ad hoc network you just created. It should connect automatically.


What is the best Internet device for a laptop?

A standard cable modem will be fine, or a WiFi adapter with an Ethernet connection, along with a wireless router.

How to get faster connections using Ethernet?

An Ethernet connection will provide the fastest Internet speeds. Connect your device to your router or modem using an Ethernet adapter or standard LAN cable.

Can I access my Internet without a router and modem?

To get a wireless connection, you’ll need a modem and a router, though you can make network connections (not online) with just a router.

STAT: A wireless network adapter is a device that connects your PC to a wireless network. (source)

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