Where is the ‘ad hoc’ wireless connection feature in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

If you 'upgraded' from Windows 7 to Windows 8 or directly to Windows 8.1, you might have noticed that ad hoc Wi-Fi (computer-computer) connections are no longer available.  The user interface for setting up an ad hoc connection does not exist any more in the Network and Sharing Center. This can be a bit disappointing. However, with Windows 7 itself, a substitute feature was introduced which is a better replacement for ad hoc wireless connections.

Instead of ad hoc connections, you should use the Wireless Hosted Network feature. It makes your Windows PC behave like a wireless access point.

The wireless Hosted Network is a new WLAN feature supported on Windows 7 and later client versions and on Windows Server 2008 R2 and later Windows Server releases. This feature implements two major functions:

  • The virtualization of a physical wireless adapter into more than one virtual wireless adapter sometimes referred to as Virtual Wi-Fi.
  • A software-based wireless access point (AP) sometimes referred to as a SoftAP that uses a designated virtual wireless adapter.

As you can see, this can fully serve as the replacement for ad-hoc connections.

Start by opening the command prompt as administrator. The best way to perform this on Windows 8 is the Power Users Menu: press Win+X keys on the keyboard and choose the "Command Prompt (Admin)" item. On Windows 7, type: cmd into the Start Menu search box and press Ctrl+Shift+Enter.

Before you set up the Hosted Network, you must ensure that your wi-fi network card meets the requirements. It must have the correct drivers installed for this feature to be enabled. At the elevated command prompt, type this:

netsh wlan show drivers

Notice the string "Hosted network supported". It must contain "Yes". Otherwise, you are out of luck - your wireless adapter drivers do not support the hosted network feature.

As the image shows above, I am lucky and my old Dlink card has everything necessary to get Hosted Network working.

To set up the Hosted Network, type the following command:

netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=”DESIRED_NETWORK_NAME” key=”YOUR_PASSWORD”

Voila, you just created a hosted network. It is as simple as that. Now, you have to start it. The following command will do this for you:

netsh.exe wlan start hostednetworkname

When you are finished with it, you can stop the connection using this command:

netsh.exe wlan stop hostednetworkname

Note that the network will not be started permanently and will disappear after reboot until you start it again. However, by default, the stored passphrase/key will be persistent.

You can get detailed information about the network you started with this command:

netsh wlan show hostednetworkname

That's it. Easy, right? Although Microsoft has removed the ad hoc wireless networking feature from modern Windows versions, this simple trick can make up for the missing feature for everyone who quickly needs to get wireless devices to connect.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

40 thoughts on “Where is the ‘ad hoc’ wireless connection feature in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1”

  1. hey thank you. I was so frustrated when I upgraded to Windows 8 because I could not find how to connect my tablet to my laptop to transfer some files. I don’t have a router at home because I switched to cellular internet and this tip helped me connect my tablet to laptop’s wireless. :P

  2. I’m using Windows 8.1 and the start command did not work for me. I kept getting the “Command not found” error until I finally figured it out. The following worked for me to start the hosted network:

    netsh.exe wlan start hostednetwork "DESIRED_NETWORK_NAME"

    Thanks for all the great tips on your site!

    1. c:/windows/system32>netsh.exe wlan start hostednetworkname
      The following command was not found: wlan start hostednetworkname

      please help me

  3. Hi Sergey, the method is not working in Windows 8.1. Its showing the wrong command error. Here: http://techzend.com/create-ad-hoc-wifi-hotspot-windows-81/ is a tool which allows to create a ad-hoc connection and its successfully running. Try it and you also include it in your tutorial.

    1. This method works for me properly, and that app is not worth its money. The command line solution is completely free.

      1. You might be right. But that app also has a free version and I am using it. I think you should first try it. Because just 1 click is needed to start hotspot.

    1. The device that hosts the wi-fi is already part of the network and doesn’t need to connect. You just start the hosted network on that device and then it will show up when your *other* devices scan for nearby wi-fi networks. Scan from the *other* device after starting it on the host device. Then when it comes up in the list on the other device, you just connect to it.

  4. Great simple article!
    A quick shortcut: Make to .bat or .cmd files from the scripts and you have shortcuts that you can simply double-click to start and stop the network. (Advanced tip: if you ever need others to connect to your network, make a 2nd set of scripts to create a new network and key so you can keep your primary network name & key to yourself….and you can only have one network running at a time as far as I know. )

    1. Brad,

      This sounds great, if I only understood how to do it. How might I reach you for more details? Thanks.

  5. Hi. all!
    But still how I can connect Win 8.1 laptop to an ad-hoc network built on a Win XP PC? I cannot do that since I upgraded to 8.1

  6. I have the problem with my Win 8.1 that i can’t see the ad hoc networks that my friends have started, and when I create a network using command prompt, I can’t see that either, although other PC’s, and even my iPod, can.
    Help please? :/

  7. i am getting:
    the hostednetwork coulnn’t be started
    the group or resource is not in the correct state to performthe requested operation
    can u tell me what to do?

    1. To fix that go to Device Manager (from Win+X menu on Windows 8), then open the Network adapters tree , right click on Microsoft Hosted Network Virtual Adapter and click on Enable. If that does not work, try disabling an re-enabling your actual wireless adapter from Device manager.

  8. The Hosted network couldn’t be started.
    A device attached to the system is not functioning.

    What to do with this error?

  9. Why can’t Microsoft simply put back in the Ad Hoc Network feature back into Windows 8 or 8.1? There is nothing simple about any of the “solutions” listed in this dialogue nor any other that I have been able to come across. At least not for the common user, such as myself.

    I am looking for a one-click option within Windows 8.1 that will work the same way as in Windows 7. Simple, fast, easy.

    I truly regret the upgrade that I recently performed on my wife’s desktop. I am considering reformatting and reinstalling Windows 7 again on this desktop. There will be no more Windows-based operating systems in any future computers i will buy. I will stay with operating systems that do not degrade the system in the actual “upgrade”. Deleting the ad hoc network option from Windows 8.1 was an incredibly stupid decision. The people responsible for this should be fired. If I or most other people would have made such a silly decision in my line of work, I would have been shown the door in a very short period of time.

  10. hy
    brother i’v windows 8 and cant connect to any ad hoc created in windows 7
    i cant see windows 7 adhocs in my windows 8 lappy
    help kindly

  11. hi, hello and thanks for the solution, it was really useful, i just have one advice. You wrote:

    netsh.exe wlan start hostednetworkname

    and thats the reason ppl is getting and error( like myself), the correct command is

    netsh.exe wlan start hostednetwork

    may be you could change that, that way ppl wont have problems, see you and Thanks!

  12. I was so happy because this was working great, now for no aparant reason all my clients that were conecting are now getting a variety of error meesages, or just hanging up at “authenticating” or sometimes obtaining IP address. i have tried so many different things and nthing, not even system restore to a time that i know it worked helps. ahhhh so frustrating

  13. Sorry, could you please help me? my problem is the following……..
    actually I had set the Hostednetwork and it was working well, then I changed the ssid and the key of hostednetwork because I forget the key beofore. when I wan to start my hostednetwork it doesn’t want to start. it says “the hosted network couldn’t be started. the group or the resourse is not in the correct state to perform the requested opration”.
    how should I solve this problem? do u have any idea?…
    Thank you very much……

    1. Run this in the elevated command prompt:
      netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow
      Should help.
      Also, check this please:
      1. Open control panel
      2. Search “Device manager”
      3. Press view, then select view hidden devices
      4. Go to network adapters,
      5. Find Microsoft Hosted Network Virtual Adapter
      Make sure if it is enabled. Press enable if not.

  14. i have completed in creating adhoc using win8.1. But when i try to connect the newly created network using win 7 laptop the connection is visible when i try to connect..it ask me.for password when i enter the password is says network key mismatch…..i ve tried several passwords. I make sure that i am entering the same password as the one used when creating adhoc network it still shows network key mismatch!! any solutions?? thanks in advance!!

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