USB tethering is a method of sharing the internet connection of a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, with another device, like a computer or laptop, by connecting the two devices via a USB cable that can transfer data.
This is a really useful feature when you don’t have access to a Wi-Fi network or a stable cellular data connection on your computer.
In this article, we will discuss how USB tethering works, how to enable USB tethering on your Samsung Galaxy smartphone, and all other important information such as USB tethering supported platforms/devices, data usage when USB tethering is enabled, whether it causes battery drain, and security aspect of USB tethering that you should know.
Table of Contents
How USB Tethering Works
When you connect your mobile device to a computer via a USB cable, the computer detects it as a portable device. Once the connection is made successfully, you will have a prompt with a few selections on your smartphone: Transfer files, Transfer photos, and Charging.
While these are the typical connection types, you can go to your device settings and turn on USB tethering (we will show you how you can do this). Once you do that your smartphone will disconnect and reconnect with the connected computer but this time it will be a different protocol that allows computer access to the internet through your smartphone’s cellular data connection.
In order to enable and use USB tethering, there are 3 requirements you need to have.
Requirements to Enable USB Tethering
- Mobile data enabled smartphone/tablet.
- A USB cable (that can share data between two devices) to connect the mobile device to the computer.
- Drivers for the mobile device installed on the computer (usually installed automatically).
If you don’t know what smartphone/tablet USB drivers are, they are small applications that enable communication between a computer and a mobile device (in USB tethering, it is a smartphone/tablet). The driver’s package contains all the files that the computer’s operating system needs to identify the device and communicate with it to transfer data seamlessly.
USB Tethering Supported Platforms
Most modern smartphones can share the mobile data connection via USB Tethering. This includes Android smartphones, Android tablets, iPhones, iPads, and other smartphones that come with different operating systems such as HarmonyOS for Huawei smartphones and Windows for Windows smartphones.
However, you cannot connect your smartphone or tablet to every device and expect USB tethering to work. USB tethering is only supported on computers and laptops that run on Windows (Starting from Windows Vista), macOS (new versions), and Linux (new versions).
For Windows, you might need to install USB drivers to recognize your smartphone. But for macOS and Linux operating systems, you won’t need to do that because most Generic USB drivers are preinstalled with them.
How to Enable USB Tethering
The process of enabling USB tethering can vary depending on the smartphone/tablet and the operating system. But since our website is all about Samsung Galaxy smartphone troubleshooting, we will show you how you can enable USB Tethering on your Samsung Galaxy smartphone.
- Plug Your Samsung Galaxy smartphone into the computer.
- Wait for the computer to detect your smartphone.
- Then go to your smartphone’s settings and tap on Connections.
- Then tap on USB Tethering.
- Now toggle on USB Tethering.
- Wait for the new connection to be established.
Data Usage When USB Tethering is Turned On
When you use USB tethering, the data consumed by your smartphone and the connected computer is usually deducted from your mobile data plan. Therefore, be cautious about excessive data usage, especially if you have limited data.
To monitor data usage, you can use a tool like Glasswire for PC.
Speed and Stability of USB Tethering
The speed and stability of the internet connection you share via USB tethering depend on your mobile device’s network coverage and the quality of the USB connection.
For example, if your smartphone is on 5G and you are using USB tethering on your laptop, you will be able to browse the internet, stream videos, and download files much faster.
But if you are on a 3G network, you will see some buffering, slow loading, and slow download speeds while browning the internet.
Battery Drain While Using USB Tethering
When you use USB tethering, it can consume your smartphone/tablet’s battery faster than usual.
Although the mobile device shows it is charging while USB tethering is in use, it is because the data is being transferred back and forth (don’t forget that data is transferred as electronic signals aka electricity).
Also, your mobile device will generate a lot of heat than usual when USB tethering is enabled. Therefore, make sure you have charged your smartphone/tablet at least up to 70% and it is placed somewhere the heat can dissipate easily.
Security Of USB Tethering
While USB tethering is generally considered secure, you should still take standard precautions, such as using secure websites (https) and enabling a firewall on your computer.
This is because when you use USB tethering your smartphone or tablet acts like a modem and there will be no extra layer of protection for your computer.
USB Tethering Alternatives
USB tethering is just one of several methods for sharing your mobile device’s internet connection.
If you don’t know, there are other options that can do the same thing including creating a mobile hotspot (Wi-Fi tethering) or using Bluetooth tethering and both are wireless methods to share mobile data.
USB Tethering Troubleshooting (In Case USB Tethering Doesn’t Work)
If you encounter issues when enabling or using USB tethering, there are a few things you can do to resolve it:
- Install the correct USB drivers for your mobile device.
- Restart both the mobile device and the computer.
- Remove the device from the computer and connect the mobile device again.
- Check the USB data cable for any signs of damage.
In case you need additional help, check this guide out. Also, you can check the FAQ section below.
USB Tethering is greyed out, how can I fix it?
If USB Tethering is greyed out, it means the connection was not made with the computer. You may need to install USB drivers for your smartphone, check the cable, or connect your smartphone to a different port of the computer to resolve it.
I have enabled USB Tethering but I cannot access internet on my computer
If you cannot access the internet with USB tethering enabled, you need to check if you can access internet on your smartphone. If internet works fine on your smartphone, then you need to restart both your PC and smartphone and then try again.
USB Tethering causes battery drain. How to reduce it?
To reduce battery drain when using USB tethering, you can turn on the power-saving option on your smartphone. Also, you can reduce data usage (play videos at a lower resolution, avoid downloading large files, etc) and switch to a low-speed network profile (5G to 4G, 4G to 3G, etc.) to reduce battery consumption.
Can USB tethering damage my phone?
USB tethering won’t damage your smartphone. However, if you use your smartphone every day as a modem or a portable router, it would affect your smartphone’s battery and shorten its lifespan.
If you have any questions regarding USB tethering on your mind, feel free to leave a comment below. We will be there to help.