No Internet, no problem!
Internet has been a big part of our lives and we can’t imagine living without it anymore. From heavy tasks such as doing our work to simple errands like looking up for somewhere to eat, the Internet is to the rescue. In the Philippines, some would have a Wi-Fi connection at their homes. However, most Filipinos subscribe to a data plan in various forms. Even though most of us can definitely afford these data subscriptions, sometimes it can feel very expensive to pay for average services ISPs provide. Looking to save up money from Internet use? Read on.
The Internet connection that we will “take advantage of” here will not magically appear out of nowhere. It will come from the place we spend most of our time in—the office, of course! However, most IT departments of companies have draconian policies on Internet use of their employees. Some do not share the Wi-Fi passwords for your own use and even block mobile devices from connecting to their Wi-Fi network so that you won’t loiter on social media. Most companies also block social media altogether. Well, their policies make sense. They are not paying you to scroll your social media feeds at work or watch the latest Game of Thrones episode.
However, with the changing role of social media at the workplace, it has become vital for companies to use it to promote their business. Let’s say, you want to look up for prospective clients on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram but your company’s Wi-Fi doesn’t allow you to do so. Moreover, what if there’s an important industry news that you have to read but your connection doesn’t allow you to go in? Everything is basically blocked. Don’t let antiquated policies hamper you from scoring a possible client and expanding your knowledge!
In this article, I will show you how to access your office’s Internet connection if rigid policies do not allow you to do so. Note that this is for educational purposes only, and I am not encouraging you to do this to download/stream heavy content using your office’s Wi-Fi nor encourage you to loiter on social media while working. To avoid getting fired, use one of these methods for business purposes only. If it can’t be helped, use them during lunch hour breaks.
Mobile Hotspot — Easy
We already know that we can create a mobile hotspot with our phones so that other devices can connect. But what if we can do that on our computer as well? If your work laptop or PC allows installation of programs, you can download OSToto Hotspot to create a portable hotspot.
Upon installation, all you have to do is to key in your preferred SSID as well as password and start broadcasting. Voila! You can now enjoy your own Wi-Fi connection. As usual, connect your personal mobile phone to your hotspot to access Internet for free.
But what if your work laptop or PC does not allow installation of programs? Thankfully, mobile hotspot has been added as one of the features of Windows 10. If you’re using Microsoft’s flagship OS, just click the balloon on the lower right side of your desktop and hit “Mobile Hotspot.” It will automatically turn on the hotspot for you; you don’t have to do anything! To reveal the password, right-click and hit “Go to Settings.”
Remember that this hotspot is dependent on your computer’s connection. If your computer’s connection is slow, your newly created hostpot will be slow as well. If social media is blocked on your PC, it will be blocked on your new hostpot as well. If you want unrestricted access to your connection, use a VPN. More on that in the next option.
It is also worth noting that some system administrators disable this feature on your PC. In that case, there’s nothing you can do about it but try other methods.
Virtual Private Network (VPN) — Intermediate
This might be a little complex for you because it might be your first time to encounter this acronym. A VPN is simply a private network that provides anonymity and safety when connecting to the Internet. When you’re using a VPN, all requests that come from your PC go through the VPN first and then to the Internet. Its primary function is to act as a mediator between your PC and the world beyond. Therefore, you’re always protected because your data/activities are not accessed directly. Your IP address will be the same as your VPN’s as well.
Now, how can you use it at the office?
There are a lot of VPN programs available on the Internet. If you do a simple Google search, you will be overwhelmed by a lot of choices. For this purpose, the VPN I will recommend to you is Windscribe because it’s absolutely free and safe. In reality, VPNs are paid programs. You pay by subscription—same thing when you pay for your Spotify or Netflix subscriptions. The best thing about Windscribe is that they give free accounts 50 GB of data allocation per month! I think that’s enough already if you’re just casually browsing. It might even be enough if you’re downloading movies or TV series, too. Other VPNs only offer a paltry 500 MB and some allocate a meager 15 GB per month. I know that this might be overwhelming for you. If you are not committed to pay for a VPN subscription for now, then I suggest that you try Windscribe. Of course if you want to use more than 50 GB per month, you will have to subscribe to one of their plans.
Go to Windscribe’s website and register for an account. The free account will initially give you 10 GB free of data allocation per month but if you help them by tweeting about their product, you will be automatically given an additional 40 GB.
You don’t need to install the software to access Windscribe on your office computer. All you need to do is to download their Chrome extension and login from there. Upon installation of the Chrome extension, key in your account credentials and activate the VPN. Lo and behold, you can now access anything on the Web WITHOUT restrictions.
Note that if you use the Chrome extension, the VPN only works within your browser. If you happen to use different programs on your office computer (Spotify, Viber, etc.), you won’t be able to use them if they are blocked. Just download the software—if your PC allows you to—and activate the VPN from there. Your whole connection will be protected by the VPN.
Reverse Tethering for Android (No Root) — Difficult
Now, if you 1) want a faster or direct connection, 2) want a more “clandestine” way of accessing Internet for free, 3) happen to have an operating system lower than Windows 10, then you can use this Android application.
Basically when we tether, our Android phones share Internet connection to our PC. This can be done by either Wi-Fi tethering or USB tethering. But what if it’s the other way around? The PC sharing the connection to our phones? This is the technology behind the Reverse Tethering app. This method is the most complex of all because it requires some programs installed on your PC.
First of all, you have to purchase a pro license to use the Reverse Tethering app on Android. It only costs PHP 305 so it won’t cost you a lot. The free app allows you only 20 minutes of use and then it will disconnect automatically. If you’re not that desperate yet, you can try the free app first before purchasing a license for the pro version.
Second, you have to make sure that USB debugging is allowed on your Android phone. If this is your first time doing this, this functionality is available on the “Developer Options” of your Android phone.
Next, install Java Runtime Environment on your work computer. If your PC doesn’t allow installing of new programs, then there are ways around it. You can ask your IT department to install it for you. After all, it’s not a harmful software.
Fourth, make sure that your work computer has the appropriate ADB drivers when your phone is connected via USB. Don’t worry as these drivers are installed automatically when you connect your phone for the first time. However, when things don’t function as usual, identify the ADB driver for your device and install it on your computer.
Then, download a small program on your PC which is found here. It’s the desktop complement of the Reverse Tethering Android app. It’s not exe file so your PC will not probably flag it.
After making sure that all is accounted for, connect your Android phone to your computer using a USB cable. After that, click the RevTet server program on your PC. Wait for a few seconds and then run the app on your Android phone by clicking “Connect.” Bingo! You can now start accessing the Internet for free, “clandestinely” and innovatively.
Note that this is also dependent on your Internet connection. If you want to access everything without restriction, run the VPN alongside this method.
Those are proven ways to access the Internet for free right at your desk. Because you know, who doesn’t want free? I’m sure that if your workplace has lenient or even lax Internet and computer policies, you will be able to do one of the methods above.
I used to do the Reverse Tethering trick back when I was at my previous company. It worked all the time. As a heavy Internet user, I think that I saved up some few bucks from Internet use because of this. During break times, I used to access Spotify, YouTube, Netflix, and Duolingo—a proof that these methods work.
When all is said and done, there’s only one method that might or might not work. If you really want unrestricted access to your company’s Wi-Fi, all you have to do is ask. Ask nicely and professionally. Tell them that you need it for a project or a difficult task. Though when they turn a blind eye, you know what to do.
Disclaimer: This post doesn’t endorse OSToto and Reverse Tethering (FD Mobile Inventions). All thoughts and opinions herein are my own and not influenced by the aforementioned companies and/or their affiliates, in any way.