Sharing one Internet connection among several computers

Sharing one Internet connection among all of the computers on your home network saves time because you only have to set up one connection. And it saves money, because you don't have to buy an individual Internet account for each computer.

There are two ways to set up Internet connection sharing: by using a router, or by using Internet Connection Sharing (ICS).

Using a router

How it works: Each computer connects to a router (sometimes called an Internet gateway device). The router, which can be wired or wireless, connects to a broadband (DSL or cable) modem, and the modem connects to the Internet.

Illustration of a network using a router
A network using a router

Make sure your router has a built-in firewall. A firewall can help stop unwanted connections to your network from the Internet.

Using ICS

How it works: One computer on the network is designated as the host computer. The host computer connects to the Internet and the other network computers share that Internet connection.

Illustration of a network using Internet Connection Sharing (ICS)
A network using Internet Connection Sharing (ICS)

This method is a bit less convenient because it requires the host computer to be left on all the time. However, it is the best method if you have a dial-up Internet connection, or if you use a modem with a USB connection.


  • If you share your Internet connection by setting up an ad hoc network, the connection is shared only for that session. When you restart your computer, the connection will no longer be shared.

  • If you set up an ad hoc network and share your Internet connection, and then someone logs on to the same computer by using Fast User Switching, the Internet connection will still be shared. Only restarting the computer will end the Internet connection sharing.