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Installing a VPN on a Virtual Router on Windows

Last edited: May 29, 2020
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Setting Up a VPN on a Virtual Router (Windows): Summary

Do you want to install a virtual router on your Windows computer? For example to connect your Smart TV with a VPN? This can be done via an external program, such as Virtual Router Plus, or via Command Prompt. The latter goes as follows:

  1. Type cmd in the search bar and start Command Prompt as administrator by using a right-click.
  2. Type netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=XXXXX key=YYYY with the name of the connection instead of XXXXX and the desired password instead of YYYY.
  3. Start the virtual router by typing netsh wlan start hostednetwork and pressing enter.

Now it’s time to enable the VPN. A VPN that works very well with virtual routers is ExpressVPN.

Do you want to know whether your computer is capable of setting up a virtual router? Or are you looking for more information on the possibilities of a virtual router? Read our full article below.

Many devices don’t have built-in software for setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection. Think of your Smart TV or Amazon Firestick, for example. If you want a VPN on these devices, you’ll have to use a different method. Fortunately, there are quick ways to make this happen. One of them is to set up a VPN on a regular router or on a virtual router. In this article you will learn how to set up a VPN on a virtual router on Windows.

What Is a Virtual Router?

RouterA virtual router is a program that pretends to be a regular router. It allows your computer to work like a Wi-Fi hotspot. Seting up a virtual router could be seen as a way of flipping the WiFi receiver in your PC. As a result, your computer is no longer able to receive WiFi signals, but it can transmit them. Unfortunately, few computers can receive and transmit a wifi signal at the same time. That is why most virtual routers are only able to share an internet connection they receive via cable. In short, a virtual router is a device that is connected to the internet via cable and then transmits that connection via wifi.

Nowadays, many devices have the ability to act as virtual routers. Many people already use the Personal Hotspot Function of their iPhones and the “Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot” on their Android phones. The virtual router on Windows works approximately the same way: your Windows computer becomes a new Wi-Fi transmitter that other devices can use to access the internet.

The Possibilities of a Virtual Router

A virtual router allows you to share your internet connection with other devices. This can be very useful when there’s no wireless internet in your direct surroundings. For example, if the room you’re in only offers one wired internet connection, a virtual router will allow you to share this connection wirelessly with other devices.

In addition, many people use a virtual router for financial reasons. This virtual variant is free if you already have a laptop or computer. A normal router can cost you quite a bit of money, meaning you can save money by using a virtual one instead. You will barely notice the difference when using a virtual router, since it’s just as fast as a normal router. The only drawback is that, unlike a normal router, you’ll have to set it up again every time you start your computer.

Moreover, you can secure a virtual router with a VPN. When you do this, all devices that are connected to this virtual router are also protected by that VPN. So if you want to secure all your devices at once, this is very easy when you use a VPN via a virtual router.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, some devices can’t run any VPN software themselves. This means you can’t install a VPN on these devices. Examples are Apple TVs, Smart TVs and Google Chromecasts. You can still secure these devices with a VPN if you make them connect to the internet via the virtual router, which runs through a VPN server. When you do this, you redirect the internet of these devices via the secure VPN connection running on the router.

Virtual Router VPN on Smart Devices

What Do I Need to Set Up a Virtual Router With a VPN?

Below is a list of requirements for when you wish to install a virtual router working with a VPN connection on your Windows device. You will need:

  • A Windows computer.
  • An internet cable (including a connecting piece if your computer doesn’t have the possibility to directly plug in an Ethernet cable).
  • A VPN subscription (e.g. with ExpressVPN, NordVPN or Surfshark).
  • Virtual router software (which you can download for free via the link in the step-by-step guide below).

To use a virtual router, you need a working computer and an internet cable. Finally, you’ll need a VPN subscription in order to protect both your computer and the devices that connect to the virtual router.

Can My Windows Computer Be Turned Into a Virtual Router?

Before you start this process, it’s important to check whether your computer supports the transmission of Wi-Fi signals. You can find this out quickly by following these steps:

  1. Simultaneously press the “Windows” and “S” keys on the keyboard.
  2. You will see the search bar. Type in “cmd” to find Command Prompt and click it.
  3. In Command Prompt, type the following: “netsh wlan show drivers“. Press enter and you’ll get to see the configurations of your network drivers.
  4. Make sure that “Hosted network supported” is followed by the word “Yes“. This looks like the image below.

Virtual router possible

When you see the word “Yes”, your computer is able to set up a virtual router. If you see the word “No”, you will unfortunately not be able to create a virtual router with your device.

How to Set Up a Virtual Router With VPN on Windows

If you’ve got the right equipment, you can get started. You can set up a virtual router with a VPN on Windows in two steps. First, you’ll have to set up the router itself. Then you can start the VPN connection. For complete protection, it’s important to do it in this order, otherwise your internet traffic might use an unprotected connection.

Step 1: Set Up Your Virtual Router

Setting up a virtual router on Windows is quite easy and can be done in just a couple of minutes. You can do this via free software, or by activating the router manually. We’ll tell you how both of these options work.

Setting up a virtual router with Virtual Router Plus

The easiest way to set up a virtual router is with the help of free software. We use a program called Virtual Router Plus, which you can download it by clicking on this link. Simply install the program and open it. You’ll see the following menu:

Virtual Router Plus example

Behind “Network name (SSID)” you can enter the name of your virtual router. You can make up this name yourself, so that you and the people around you can easily recognize the network. Feel free to let your creativity run wild: how about “Chance the Router” or “Lord Voldemodem”? Next, you’ll have to think of a password that people will need in order to connect to your virtual router. Click the arrow behind “Shared connection” and choose the option “Ethernet“. Finally, click on “Start Virtual Router Plus“. Your virtual router should now be visible when you check the available networks on another nearby device.

Setting up Virtual Router via Command Prompt

Maybe you don’t want to install special software on your Windows computer. No worries. There’s another option. You can also manually set up a virtual router via Command Prompt. Simply follow these steps:

Step 1: Start Command Prompt by typing “cmd” in the search bar in the bottom left corner of your screen. Right click on Command Prompt and open it as an administrator.

Step 2: Now you can enter the settings of your virtual router. Type out the following command. Take care to spell everything correctly and don’t forget any spaces.

netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=XXXXX key=YYYYY

After ‘ssid=’ (instead of XXXXX) you should enter the name of your connection, which you can choose yourself. The name only serves to make it easy for others to find your network. Behind ‘key=’ (instead of YYYYY) you can enter a password of your choice. With this password, people will be able to access your network. Finally, press enter.

Step 3: Start the virtual router by entering the following command:

netsh wlan start hostednetwork

You can disable the virtual router with the following command:

netsh wlan stop hostednetwork

For an overview of information about your network, type this command:

netsh wlan show hostednetwork

Here is an example to give you an idea of what this looks like in practice:

Command Prompt Virtual Router

Once you’ve turned on your virtual router, you can check whether it works correctly by trying to connect to the network with a different device. Make sure you can access the internet when using the virtual router. If this all works, you can proceed to the next step: setting up a VPN on your virtual router.

Please note that you will need to enable the virtual router each time you shut down Windows.

Step 2: Set Up a VPN Connection on Windows

Now that your virtual router is working, it’s time to set up the VPN. Fortunately, this is very easy and only takes a few minutes. The infographic below explains the process step-by-step.

Install VPN Step by Step Desktop

Here’s some additional information:

  1. First, you’ll have to choose a VPN provider to subscribe to. If you need some advice on which one to pick, you’ll find good options here. Scroll down on this page to see which VPNs are best to use with a virtual router. Go to the website of your chosen VPN provider and choose a subscription that meets your needs.
  2. Download the VPN software from your VPN provider’s official website. Usually, you’ll automatically be given the option to do so right after creating your account.
  3. Install the software by clicking on the downloaded file and going through the steps.
  4. Log in to the VPN software with the details of the account you created in step 1.
  5. If necessary, choose the VPN server you want to use from the list of options provided by the VPN. Simply click on a server location (e.g. USA) to select it.
  6. Enable the VPN by clicking the power button. In many cases, you’ll already be connected to the VPN automatically when you choose a location.

IP DNS Leak Test

All your internet traffic will now run through your chosen VPN server. This means that all traffic from the devices connected to your virtual router will also be protected.

It’s important, however, to check whether your devices are properly secured. You can do this by going to dnsleaktest.com on every device connected to the virtual router. On this website, click on ‘extended test’. The website will check whether your connection is suffering from any DNS leaks. This test will look like the screenshot on the side. If you don’t have any leaks, you won’t see your actual IP address back in the list that’s compiled at the end of the test.

Suitable VPN applications

Not all VPN applications will instantly work in combination with a virtual router. With some VPNs, you’ll first need to change the protocol or the settings of the connection. A VPN application must support the OpenVPN protocol in order to work with a virtual router. There are a number of VPN providers that will be able to function on a virtual router without any problems, but the VPN that proved to work for us over and over is ExpressVPN. This VPN is super fast, offers different servers and has many extra options. It also works flawlessly on a virtual router, because it uses OpenVPN by default.

ExpressVPN
Our pick
Our pick
Deal:
3 months for free with a one-year subscription
9.5
  • Super-fast and simple VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN

Another option is NordVPN. This provider is one of the biggest VPNs in the world and also works on virtual routers. NordVPN has thousands of servers, so you’ll always have plenty of choice in server locations. It’s also a slightly cheaper option than ExpressVPN.

NordVPN
Deal:
Only $3,49 a month for a 3-year subscription
9.1
  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
  • Nice and pleasing application
  • No logs
Visit NordVPN

If you’d rather have a little more choice, feel free to take a look at our overview of the best VPN providers of this moment. All of those will work with a virtual router as well.

If you use a different VPN, it may not work immediately. This could be due to the settings of the connection. We’ll explain how you can change the settings so your VPN will start working right here:

Step 1: Go to you Windows settings and click ‘Network & Internet’:

Windows Settings Network and Internet

 

Step 2: Click on “Change adapter options”:

Change Networks Settings screen

Step 3: Right-click on the connection that says “TAP-Windows Adapter”:

TAP Windows Adapter Properties

Step 4: Click ‘Properties’ and then open the ‘Share’ tab at the top. The following menu will appear:

Properties connection virtual router

Step 5: Check the boxes in front of both options. Behind the option “Home networking connection” you choose your virtual router from the drop-down menu. Finally, confirm these settings by clicking “OK”.

You have now correctly set up the VPN connection in combination with a virtual router! Enjoy surfing the web and streaming content safely and securely with all your devices.

Conclusion

In this article we’ve discussed all about virtual routers and how to set them up on Windows. To secure your internet connection, it’s important you use a virtual router in combination with a VPN. An active VPN connection ensures that all devices connected to your virtual router will be online in a secure, anonymous and free way. However, please note that not all VPNs will instantly work on your virtual router. Sometimes you may need to change some additional settings to get this to work.

Setting Up a VPN on Your Virtual Router (Windows) - FAQ

Do you have a question about installing a VPN on your virtual router on Windows? Have a quick look at the frequently asked questions below and click a question to see the answer.

A virtual router works like a Wi-Fi hotspot. When you use one on your laptop or computer, it will be able to send out Wi-Fi signals, instead of just receiving them. This way, other devices, such as your smartphone or your Amazon Firestick, can use your computer’s (secure) internet connection.

You can set up a virtual router on Windows in two different ways. The first option is to use external software to set up your connection. Another option is to manually create a virtual router via Command Prompt. You can read here how to do this step by step.

Yes, you can. Just like your ‘normal’ internet connection, you can secure your computer’s virtual router or hotspot with a VPN. This can be done by enabling a VPN on the device that acts as a virtual router or hotspot. As a result, any device connected with that router will be protected as well.

A VPN that works perfectly in almost all cases is ExpressVPN. You won’t have to manually set up this VPN and its protocols if you want to use it with your virtual router. It’ll be ready to go as soon as you turn it on. You won’t experience any delay, either, because ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs out there.

If you run a VPN on a virtual router, all devices connected to that router are automatically protected by the VPN. This way you won’t have to install the VPN software on every device, you might be able to protect more devices than your subscription would otherwise allow, and you’ll be able to use a VPN on your Smart TV or Google Chromecast, giving you more streaming capabilities.

Cybersecurity analyst
David is a cyber security analyst and one of the founders of VPNoverview.com. Interested in the "digital identity" phenomenon, with special attention to the right to privacy and protection of personal data.

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