Today’s admin needs to be versatile, ready to to hit the road at a moments notice. Maybe the office down the road is having issues, or maybe the office across the country. The point is, you are an admin and your office needs to literally be anywhere. However, in my adventures in being an admin the worst thing is when you absolutely need internet on your laptop but the only internet available is on your phone. Not very useful if you need to VPN into work and get some information off the network. Or if you have to download software as a fix, good luck! Here’s a quick and easy way to get internet on your computer from your phone.
Warning! Mobile carriers hate this because they’re not sucking more money out of you, like data caps, to enable the hotspot feature on your phone. And, speaking of data caps, if you do have a data cap this will count against your cap. If you have a carrier with true unlimited or “unlimited” (lookin’ at you, T-Mobile), this is great emergency internet to download larger files such as an IOS image, drivers, or what have you. As of course, your mileage may vary. This is also for fairly technical people so if you’re not a techie, best to skip out. And, please, FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE FCC ABOUT DATA CAPS!
iPhone or Android? Maybe Windows Mobile?
Well, good news! It doesn’t matter what type of phone OS you’re running, it’s supported (unless it’s like Bob’s Mobile OS or something). We’re going to use an application called PdaNet by June Fabrics. If you’re on iOS, you will need to jailbreak so you will need a jailbreakable device. For a while, I was on iOS 8.4.1 (after just randomly updating from 8.4 which was/is jailbreakable) and then just plunged to iOS 9.0. Pangu has a jailbreak for iOS 9-9.0.2 so you can jailbreak running those versions (like I have). PdaNet is available through Cydia.
Because iPhone is so simple, there’s really no process to using PdaNet on it. Just download through Cydia and then run the app.
As soon as you’re in it, just slide the WiFi HotSpot to the “On” position.
Setup the hotspot details, and you’re good to go! Connect from your device.
If you’re an Android user, good news! You can just download the app and get going. Thanks to FoxFi, you do not need to root your device to get the hotspot feature working. The app is available on the Google Play store.
Unfortunately, Android does require some advanced configuration including setting up certificates and a scary warning about your network connection possibly being intercepted! Don’t worry as all of this is completely normal.
Is it Free or Free*?
Unfortunately, there is an asterisk next to free when it comes to PdaNet. The free version is fully functional for 14 days, after which it will still continue to work but HTTPS sites will not. I have never tested this beyond the 14–day trial so I do not know if things like SSH will also be blocked. However, a license for your phone is pretty cheap. $14.95 for Android, $20 for iPhone. When you think about it, your mobile carrier wants to charge you $15-$30 per month for this feature which means the savings will help this app pay for itself. The license is tied to your phone, not your computer or any other device you connect.
I’ve been using PdaNet for years. I first discovered it back in 2010 when I purchased a laptop and wanted to be able to sit in my car on my lunch break and surf the web. This app became my saving grace. Five years later, and now my phone is a personal hot spot which is great. I highly recommend this app.
If you are one of the poor unfortunate souls with a data cap, please heed my warning: set your connection to metered in Windows! Don’t stream videos or music! You will blow through your cap in a few hours and you’ll be paying a ton in overage fees. However, for light web surfing or even connecting to a remote SSH session, it will be perfect. Or maybe for the occasional use on the road.
Just keep in mind though it is cellular service – that means if you have LTE, things will be kinda fast. If you have 3G, it’ll slow down a bit. If you have 1x, just give up.