• #1 NetSpot
  • Best WiFi analyzer app
  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews

Improving WiFi Performance with a WiFi Analyzer

A WiFi analyzer is a useful software application that can tell you many things about your wireless network and the networks around you, helping you optimize your WiFi for best performance.
top choice
  • NetSpot
  • Best WiFi Analyzer App
  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews

What Is WiFi Analysis?

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.

What Is the Best WiFi Analyzer App?

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.

Features of a WiFi Channel Analyzer

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:

  • Network name: WiFi networks typically broadcast their names, also known as service set IDs (SSIDs) to identify themselves to wireless devices. SSIDs can be zero to 32 bytes long, and they can contain any non-ISO basic Latin characters. An SSID that is zero bytes long is called a “hidden SSID,” and it’s sometimes used to steers clients to other networks. A good WiFi network analyzer must be able to discover and analyze even hidden SSIDs.
  • Band and channel in use: WiFi networks are broadcasted in the unlicensed spectrum, and the IEEE 802.11 standard provides several distinct radio frequency ranges, called bands, in the unlicensed spectrum. The main bands used in WiFi communications are the 2.4 GHz band and the 5 GHz band. Both of these bands are divided into multiple channels, which are like lanes on the highway, allowing multiple WiFi networks to broadcast their signals without interfering with one another. A WiFi analyzer can reveal when multiple WiFi networks broadcast on the same channel and suggest an alternative channel.
  • Security settings: To prevent unauthorized access, WiFi networks can be protected with Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), or WPA2 wireless security technologies. Out of these, only the last type of WiFi security provides a sufficient level of security to ensure that no one can connect to your WiFi network without permission and access your personal data during transmit. A WiFi analyzer can tell you useful information about the security settings of your WiFi, helping you determine whether you should change them or not.
  • WiFi standard: Technology keeps evolving at a rapid pace, and WiFi standards are no exception. There have been multiple amendments to the original IEEE 802.11 standard, which was released in 1997. Today, the most common WiFi standards currently in use include 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac. In the near future, the 802.11ax WiFi standard will offer around a 30-40 percent improvement over the ac standard, but only a very few devices support it at the moment. To analyze as many WiFi networks as possible, it’s important to select a WiFi analyzer that supports older and new WiFi standards alike.
  • Signal strength: Everyone knows how painful it can be to use the internet with a WiFi signal strength of just one or two bars. The problem with WiFi strength bars is that they are far from accurate and can even be misleading. A WiFi analyzer displays WiFi signal strength in dBm, which are decibels in relation to a milliwatt (usually -30 to -100), giving you a highly accurate estimate of your signal strength.
  • Noise level: Just like it’s difficult to hear another person in a loud room, it’s difficult to receive a strong WiFi signal in an environment with too much wireless noise, which is measured in -dBm format (0 to -100). The closer the measured noise level is to zero, the greater the level of noise is and the more difficult it is to receive a strong WiFi signal.

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.

The Best Five WiFi Analyzer Apps

Here are five WiFi analyzer apps that can help you tune your network for peak performance.

#1
NetSpot — is the professional app for wireless site surveys, WiFi analysis, and troubleshooting on macOS and Windows.
#2
Network Analyzer — includes diagnostic tools and an Internet speed test.
#3
Network Performance Monitor — is the web-based tool that designed to be used by enterprise network administrators.
#4
WiFi Analyzer — is a free WiFi analyzer for Windows.
#5
WiFi Scanner — both Mac and Windows users will benefit from the advanced features of this tool.
choice #1
NetSpot
WiFi analyzer app runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.10+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless network adapter.
  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews
  • 500K
  • Users
One WiFi analyzer app that meets all of the above-mentioned criteria is NetSpot. This professional app for wireless site surveys, WiFi analysis, and troubleshooting on macOS and Windows is loved by seasoned network administrators and home users alike.

NetSpot runs on any Mac computer with macOS 10.10 or newer and any Windows computer with Windows 7, 8, or 10. Unlike most other WiFi analyzer apps, NetSpot supports two distinct wireless analysis modes: Discover and Survey.
  • Discover mode

    Reflects the rate of data transfer from user to the Internet.
  • Survey mode

    Available on any MacBook with macOS and PC laptop on Windows.

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
choice #2
  • Not Enough Ratings

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.

Network Analyzer
Network Analyzer
choice #3
  • Not Enough Ratings

This web-based tool is designed to be used by enterprise network administrators and is powered by cutting-edge technology and advanced monitoring features.

Network Performance Monitor
Network Performance Monitor
choice #4
  • Not Enough Ratings

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.

WiFi Analyzer
WiFi Analyzer
choice #5
  • Not Enough Ratings

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.

WiFi Scanner
WiFi Scanner

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.

SO, WE RECOMMEND
NetSpot
WiFi analyzer app runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.10+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless network adapter.
  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews
  • #1
  • WiFi analyze app

  • 500K
  • Users
  • 6
  • Years
  • Cross-platform
  • Mac/Windows

How to Perform WiFi Analysis Using a WiFi Analyzer App?

WiFi analysis may sound very technical and daunting, but it’s anything but that — as long as you use a simple yet capable WiFi analyzer app like NetSpot. In addition to NetSpot, you’ll also need a laptop with a WiFi card so you can detect nearby WiFi networks.


With NetSpot, you can choose between two distinct WiFi analysis methods. The first method, called Discover Mode, is all about quick and easy WiFi network discovery, instantly listing all WiFi networks available in your area, along with all important information about them, including network name, band and channel, security settings, WiFi standard, signal strength, and noise level.


The second WiFi analysis mode is called Survey Mode, and it allows you to perform a WiFi site survey and create a WiFi heatmap so you can see exactly where your WiFi signal is strong and where it could use some improvement.


By combining these two WiFi analysis methods, you can get a very accurate idea about the performance of your WiFi network and understand exactly what you need to do to improve it. For example, it takes just one click to see which WiFi channels nearby WiFi networks broadcast on, which makes it straightforward to solve channel interference issues.


Performing WiFi Analysis Using Discover Mode


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.


NetSpot’s Discover Mode

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.


Performing WiFi Analysis Using Survey Mode


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.


NetSpot’s Survey Mode

Continue scanning until you have covered the entire area and click the Stop Scan button when you are done.


Learn More About WiFi Analysis with NetSpot


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.

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Next in Wi-Fi Analysis

If you want to get more information about Wi-Fi, check out the following articles about Wi-Fi routers, the best apps for wireless networking, WiFi signal, etc.

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Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.10+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless network adapter.