Accessing a public Internet connection from a virtual machine without getting charged twice

Last night, I stayed away on business in a hotel with broadband Internet access in my room (1.5Mbps according to a bandwidth speed test). Having paid almost as much for a 24 hour connection as I pay for a month at home, I decided to remain in my hotel room this morning and take advantage of a fast connection, rather than competing for a meagre amount of bandwidth in the office.

That sounds fair enough, but as I’m now working (rather than just surfing the ‘net and writing new blog posts) I also need to access corporate applications and data. My notebook PC is running Windows Vista but my corporate desktop runs in a Windows XP virtual machine using the VMware Player, so whereas last night I’d been using the host machine to access the Internet, this morning I need to use the virtual machine too.

The host PC is still working with the hotel ISP‘s systems but when I originally connected with the virtual machine (which is normally configured for bridged networking to logically separate the guest and host machines so it has it’s own IP address) I was presented with a welcome page which invited me to pay again for access.

Quickly changing the VMware Player’s Ethernet connection from a bridged connection to a NAT connection, disconnecting and reconnecting the Ethernet connection and then running ipconfig -release and ipconfig -renew in the virtual machine gave the Windows XP guest a new NATted IP address and me the ability to access the Internet from either the virtual guest or the physical host machine. Unfortunately I still can’t create a VPN connection to the company network (probably something to do with the NAT) but I can live with that for a few hours.

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