How to tether your phone to your PC

Is your Wi-Fi struggling under the pressure of working from home? Find out how your phone can help you stay connected.  

26 Mar 2020

Millions of us are working from home, trying to replicate an efficient workspace that’s as easy to stay productive in as our offices. However, that also means more people using Wi-Fi from the same provider in your area. The more people sharing the network, particularly under the same roof, the slower and more unreliable your internet connection is likely to be. 

In many cases, it only takes a little thing like a lag-filled video meeting or a shared spreadsheet crashing to throw you off balance and stop you from achieving what you need to.  

Fortunately, there are ways around this. If you’ve got plenty of data on your phone, it may just save the day. Here’s how: 

USB tethering

USB tethering is the quickest way to get a fast, stable connection. Because it’s wired to your laptop, the internet connection is exclusive to your PC. That means you won’t be slowed down by other devices joining the network. So, it’s a lifesaver when you have an urgent brief or project to submit. 

If you have an Android smartphone, It’s easy. All you have to do is plug your charging cable into your phone, and the USB side into your laptop or PC. Then, open your phone and head to Settings. Look for the Wireless and Networks section and tap on ‘Tethering & portable hotspot’.  

You should then see a ‘USB tethering’ option. Make sure the cable’s plugged in, otherwise this option will be greyed out. Tap on it, wait around 30 seconds and refresh your laptop browser. Once it’s refreshed, you should be back online. 

If you have an iPhone, you’ll need the latest version of iTunes downloaded on your laptop. Once you’ve opened iTunes, open your iPhone and go to Settings > Mobile Data > Personal Hotspot or Settings > Personal Hotspot 

Turn on Personal Hotspot, and then plug your iPhone into your laptop via USB. Head to ‘Network settings’ on your laptop, and it should recognise your iPhone as a wired connection. Once you join this, you’re live and ready to go.  


Portable Wi-Fi hotspot

USB tethering is ideal for keeping just your laptop connected, but what if you need to connect other devices? What if your family or housemates also need a strong Wi-Fi signal to do their work? If that’s the case, the answer is to turn your smartphone into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot. 

This works in a pretty similar way to your home Wi-Fi router. Your whole family can connect their laptops, phones and tablets to your smartphone while it’s in tethering mode and get reliable Wi-Fi for as long as they need. 

Setting up your Android phone as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot takes a matter of moments.  

Just like USB tethering, you want to go to Settings, then find the Wireless and Networks section and tap on ‘Tethering & portable hotspot’. From there, head to ‘Set up Wi-Fi hotspot’ to change your network name to something recognisable and your password to something your household can remember. 

After you’ve set up your hotspot, turn it on in your wireless network settings, and connect via Network & Internet Settings on your laptop. 

Your iPhone makes it easy to connect all your other devices and get them online, fast. 

As with tethering with a USB, head to Settings > Mobile Data > Personal Hotspot or Settings > Personal Hotspot. Turn Personal Hotspot on and double check to see your hotspot network name and password are both memorable. Keep on this page until each of your devices are connected to the hotspot. 

Top tip: Just like with a conventional Wi-Fi router, the positioning of your phone while it’s tethering can make all the difference to your internet speed. So, it’s worth having your smartphone placed near a window, or wherever you get the strongest and most consistent 4G or 5G signal in your home. That way, you can get through online meetings smoothly, work from collaborative documents and live stream webinars.  

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