Ad-Hoc, Hotspot, Tethering, three words you keep seeing. Three expressions everyone but you seem to know what is. In one of my more popular articles here on mintywhite we deal with setting up your Windows 7 computer as a Wi-Fi Hotspot. In the comments, one of our readers (who probably felt a bit awkward) asked if a HotSpot is the same thing as an Ad-Hoc. Hmm… Let’s explore this topic. After you read this, you might want to tell me to change the name of the before mentioned article to: “Set Windows 7 as WiFi Ad-Hoc” but I’ll explain a bit further down, why I chose the word HotSpot.
The short answer
The short answer is (in the words of Aerosmith): Hotspot is like Ad-Hoc, but not quite. Okay Aerosmith never said it like that, but if you know which song I’m referring too, leave your answer in the comment. HotSpot and Ad-Hoc can both be used to share your internet connection, and in some respect they are two of the same. They differ in what they are intended for.
The slightly longer answer
First, let me try to define what an Ad-Hoc and a HotSpot is:
Generally speaking, a HotSpot is what you are using when accessing Internet when you’re at a Café or a Hotel. Usually you need a username and/or password to log on through a web-Portal to be able to connect to the Internet. HotSpot requires a Wi-Fi connection and works like your Wi-Fi Network at home. The HotSpot will normally only allow you to use the Internet. Not interact with other computers or gadgets using the same HotSpot.
The Ad-Hoc is a wireless network without the need of a big Server, or a Router. A Router is preferable the easiest way to go, but you are able to do without. Ad-Hoc rely on each computers Wi-Fi Card to set up and Connect to other computers through one of the other, which for the sake of argument, is the Server (or main Computer). If this Computer has a Wireless Internet (USB modem etc.) then the Ad-Hoc Network can share the Internet Connection as well.
If you have multiple computers in your household, and all are running Windows 7, you might be using an Ad-Hoc Network already, otherwise known as HomeGroup. The Ad-Hoc gives you much of the same functionality you would come to expect from a wired network, like Printer- and Filesharing.
I did promise an answer to my choice of title
The answer is simple. The main purpose of the article in mind, was to let other computers share your internet Connection. Not dealing with all the hassle with security, sharing, permissions etc. Though arguably you do the same as setting up an Ad-Hoc Network, you are only giving away Internet Access. And, besides, Rich would have a handful of 404 errors to handle If I were to change it now.
Tethering is a word that began surfacing around 2009 when SmartPhones started appearing. In short, Tethering is using your phone (or other device) as an Internet Modem through an USB-Cable, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Connection. Allowing your Laptop to connect to the Internet, no matter where you are. With 3G (and 4G) standards, this is almost as good as using a Wireless Internet, but will in the long run cost your more. But for that one desperate moment when you really need Internet – well, then that is a great solution.
Be aware that some Internet providers require you to sign up for an extra Tethering Service if you want to connect more than one device to their service.
The technique is by far new, and has been available before the world even knew what a SmartPhone is. But back then, it was called: “Using your Cellphone as modem” or something similar.