Any modern home isn’t modern without a wireless router. But with at least one wireless router in nearly every home, the WiFi radio spectrum can get cluttered pretty easily.
Most wireless routers use the 2.4 GHz radio band to transmit data. This radio band is divided into multiple channels, which are like the lines on the highway. In North America, the 2.4 GHz radio band is divided into exactly 11 channels, with channels 1, 6, and 11 being the only channels that don’t overlap with other channels.
In theory, 11 channels should be more than enough even for densely populated urban areas, but, in reality, people seldom change the default configuration of their wireless router, which results in a situation where too many wireless routers transmit data on the same channel.
WiFi analysis performed using a wireless network analyzer can reveal which WiFi channels are used the least and provide plenty other information necessary for comprehensive WiFi optimization. WiFi analysis isn’t hard to do, provided you use a good WiFi analyzer app, and its benefits are plentiful.
Signal strength is one of the most significant factors that influence the speed of your WiFi connection. A weak signal will result in slower data transmission speed. It may also be responsible for intermittently dropped connections. In order to reap the benefits afforded by a wireless network, maintaining signal strength throughout the coverage area is essential.
Distance is a key element in obtaining a strong signal and acceptable WiFi speed. The farther away from a WiFi router you are, the weaker the signal received by a connected device. Wireless networks that serve extended coverage areas usually employ signal extenders of some variety to provide connectivity to all of its users.
Sometimes your signal may be extremely weak, even when standing relatively close to your router. This can happen for a variety of reasons. You may be experiencing interference from nearby appliances such as a microwave oven or cordless phone that emits electromagnetic waves in the same frequency as your router.
The signal may also be impacted by walls or other impenetrable objects between you and your router. Where you place your router can have a tremendous impact on WiFI speed. A WiFi analysis tool such as NetSpot can help you find the ideal location for your router and enable you to increase your WiFi speed. You can use the application to test your WiFi signal strength from anywhere in your coverage area to identify the optimal placement of your router.
There are many online tools available with which you can test your WiFi speed. Just Google ‘WiFi speed test’ and you will find a free utility that lets you check WiFi speed. These tests can be very helpful in identifying issues with your network’s speed. But they need to be used correctly in order to deliver useful information.
A single test is not sufficient to show you the true speed your network will deliver. You need to test the WiFi speed from a number of locations within your coverage area and conduct the test repeatedly at different times of the day. The speeds reported by the tool may vary widely depending on when and where the test was run. Averaging the speeds will give you the best sense of the speed of your WiFi connection.
WiFi speed can also be affected by the channel or frequency the network is using to broadcast its signal. This is another area where a WiFi analyzer tool like NetSpot can be instrumental in allowing you to identify and address network issues. You can use the program to survey the area and see any signals that may be impacting you from competing WiFi networks.
The results of a survey will show you which channels are in use by other nearby networks. Using a busy channel will negatively affect your WiFi speed. The information provided by the survey can let you make an informed choice regarding which channel your network should use. A simple channel change can dramatically increase the performance of your WiFi network.
Similarly, the frequency that neighboring networks are using might slow down your WiFi speed. If all of the nearby networks are using the 2.4 GHz frequency, you might consider moving to the 5 GHz band to see if it improves your speed. One important factor to keep in mind is that the 2.4 GHz band is better at penetrating solid objects and may actually provide more speed in some settings that the alternative of the 5 5GHz frequency.
A WiFi analyzer can be an invaluable tool for diagnosing problems and optimizing your wireless network. You can use a WiFi analyzer app to improve the speed and reliability of your network. There are many apps from which to choose, so what features should you look for? A good wireless analyzer app should be able to do several things.
To start with, it should quickly detect all nearby wireless networks and gather enough information about them. At the very least, the app should be able to retrieve network names, also known as Service Set Identifiers (SSIDs), security settings, and signal strength data.
Some of the more feature-packed WiFi analyzers also come with heatmapping functionality, which allows you to capture signal strength data on a map to reveal areas of signal weakness and possible high interference.
Best WiFi analyzer apps are not just packed with useful features, but they are also exceptionally easy to use even by people who have little to no previous experience with WiFi analysis.
Here are some attributes you will find important in a WiFi analyzer.
Quality data collection – There are many statistics that an analyzer can provide about your network and those located nearby. At a minimum you want your app to display:
User interface – The manner in which the network data is presented can impact your ability to use it efficiently. You should be able to quickly find the information you are interested in viewing.
Portability – In order to use a WiFi analyzer effectively you need to take multiple readings of your network from various locations within the coverage area. You need to consider the available platforms you have available from which to run the app. Selecting a WiFi analyzer that runs on a laptop or mobile device will lead to the most productive use of the tool.
Reporting – You may find that you want to keep records of your WiFi scans and network statistics. Some apps give you the ability to export data to files for later analysis.
Here are five WiFi analyzer apps that can help you tune your network for peak performance.
The Discover Mode is great for taking quick snapshots of nearby wireless networks. When in this mode, NetSpot instantly detects all wireless networks near you, including your own wireless network, and allows you to check their security settings, signal strength, the channel and band they broadcast on, and much more.
When in the Survey Mode, NetSpot allows you to outline your real-life wireless network data on a map, clearly showing where your signal is the weakest and where it is the strongest. NetSpot’s heatmapping functionality supports multi-level projects with different areas, floors, and so on, and it even makes it possible to create any number of snapshots within each zone to quickly compare various wireless configurations with one another.Download for free
Users wishing to run their analyzer on an iOS device will love the features of this tool which include diagnostic tools and an Internet speed test.
This web-based tool is designed to be used by enterprise network administrators and is powered by cutting-edge technology and advanced monitoring features.
Here is a free WiFi analyzer for Windows which can be used on your laptop to monitor signal strength, find open channels, and test your network’s speed.
Both Mac and Windows users will benefit from the advanced features of this tool, including the ability to graphically display the network’s signal strength.
One of these WiFi apps should be able to help you improve your network’s performance. Download one to the platform of your choice and scan your network. It might point out a simple way to fix to issues that negatively impact your network and its users.
NetSpot’s Discover Mode is so easy to use that it doesn’t need any explanation. Simply activate it using the toggle located in the top bar and watch as NetSpot creates a snapshot of all WiFi activity around you. NetSpot will then continue to analyze surrounding areas in real-time.
If you would like to pause the real-time analysis, you can do so using the Pause button in the bottom-left corner. Close to the Pause button is the Scan interval drop-down menu, which lets you adjust the interval between each scan.
The Discover Mode gives you all the information you need to avoid problems with interference and channel overload. But if you would also like to optimize the placement of your home router, you should switch to the Survey Mode and create a signal heatmap of your area.
Start NetSpot and click on the Survey button. Click on “Start new survey” and give your survey a name. NetSpot gives you a choice between loading an existing map from your computer or drawing a new map from scratch. Select which network, or networks, you would like to scan and then follow the instructions to take your first measurement. Continue scanning until you have covered the entire area and click the Stop Scan button when you are done.
If there’s something that’s not completely clear to you, we encourage you to visit NetSpot’s help page, where you can learn more about using this professional wireless analyzer to perform WiFi analysis. The help page also lists all the features that are available to PRO users. If you perform WiFi analysis on a regular basis, NetSpot PRO can save you a lot of time, energy, and even money.
As you can see, WiFi analysis isn’t nearly as daunting as it would be if it wasn’t for modern WiFi analyzer apps such as NetSpot. With them, WiFi analysis is a piece of cake and something that every owner of a wireless router should do to avoid slowdowns and connection drops.