Top 3 Best Apps to Measure WiFi Signal Strength for Windows

Before you write an angry email to your Internet service provider, purchase a new router, or return your brand-new smartphone because of mediocre WiFi signal strength, you should first measure WiFi signal strength using a WiFi signal strength meter app.

Why Measure WiFi Strength and What WiFi Signal Strength Meter Apps Do?


Why download a dedicated WiFi strength meter when you can see how strong your WiFi connection is just by looking at the WiFi indicator icon in the taskbar? Because the WiFi indicator icon doesn’t tell you the full story.

When you set up a wireless network, the coverage is seldom even. Various obstacles, such as furniture and walls, weaken the signal as it passes through them, and so does interference caused by other wireless networks nearby. WiFi signal also gets progressively weaker the farther away it travels from the source (i.e., your router).

Only when you have a reasonably strong signal can you enjoy fast download speeds, lag-free Skype conversations, and web browsing without constant waiting for pages to load. To have a strong signal everywhere you need, it’s critical to choose an optimal place for the router and configure it in a way that will give the best results.

But selecting a good place for a router and configuring its settings is impossible without access to the right information. Namely, a visual map of the router’s wireless coverage and information about other WiFi networks in the area.

WiFi signal strength meter apps detect and analyze wireless networks, displaying information about their configuration and security, and some can also visualize the signal strength of wireless networks as convenient heatmaps, helping you decide where it would be best to place your router.

Top 3 Best WiFi Signal Strength Meter Apps


1. NetSpot

NetSpot is our favorite WiFi signal strength meter app because it combines simplicity with powerful features at an affordable price. NetSpot is both a WiFi signal strength visualizer and a WiFi discovery and analysis tool. Changing between these two distinct modes of operation is as simple as flipping a switch, and the same ease of use is characteristic for the rest of the software.

To draw a WiFi signal strength heatmap with NetSpot, you first have to supply NetSpot with a map of the area you want to visualize. You can either upload an existing map or draw a new one right in NetSpot. With the map ready, you walk from one place to the next until you’ve measured WiFi strength everywhere. NetSpot then analyzes the gathered data and turns it into a signal strength heatmap.

netspot

To discover and analyze nearby WiFi networks, you switch to the Discover mode and give NetSpot a short while to detect all WiFi networks and automatically check WiFi signal strength of each one. NetSpot can detect even hidden WiFi networks, displaying channel info, transmit rate, vendor, security type, band, and other useful information.


2. WiFi Analyzer

WiFi Analyzer is a barebones WiFi signal strength meter app for computers running the Windows operating system. WiFi Analyzer can detect nearby networks, sort them by signal strength, and visualize them on a graph which shows on which channel each network runs. A tool like this is useful for finding the best open WiFi network in public places or for basic troubleshooting. WiFi Analyzer is available in Windows Store for free.

WiFi_Analyzer

3. Wireshark

In many ways, Wireshark is the polar opposite of WiFi Analyzer. Just like NetSpot, Wireshark can satisfy the needs of network professionals, but it largely disregards the needs of beginners. Wireshark can analyze wireless network traffic down to individual packets, which is why it’s widely used by software developers and by security experts doing penetration testing. Don’t expect to know how to use it without reading the manual, though.

Wireshark

The best WiFi signal strength


So what signal strength should you be content with? It depends on the tasks you expect to be fulfilled. For example for sending and fetching emails, browsing the Internet, or scanning barcodes, -70 dBm is a decent signal strength. If you are going to use higher-throughput apps, -67 dBm is more suitable. Some engineers will recommend -65 dBm if you are are interested in supporting mobile iOS or Android devices.

Note: The values in the chart below are suggestions. Depending on the requirements of a real-life network the desired WiFi signal strength will vary.

>-50 dBm Excellent Values around this can be considered an outstanding signal strength.
-50 dBm to -60 dBm Good A signal strength good enough for task of any level.
-60 dBm to -70 dBm Fair The minimum value for any service dependant on a steady connection and signal strength, e.g. voice over Wi-Fi or non-HD video streaming.
<-70 dBm Weak This value of signal strength is considered unreliable and won't suffice for most services

How to Increase WiFi Signal Strength?


One Google search is enough to find dozens of tips and tricks how to increase WiFi signal strength. Some are nonsensical, some give questionable results, and some are legitimate. Most of them, however, have something to do with either router placement or router configuration.

Where you place your router matters a lot, as any WiFi signal meter app, such as NetSpot, can reveal. You want to give your router some space to breathe. Don’t place it too close to walls or other large obstacles. Consider the area you want to cover with a WiFi signal and place the router as close to the center of the area as possible for even signal distribution. If your signal is still weak, consider placing the router somewhere higher, such as on a shelf. Use NetSpot or another similar WiFi signal strength meter app to measure whether you’ve picked a good spot.

Once you’re satisfied with the placement of your router, it’s time to fire up the admin user interface and change a few settings. Start with security settings. Pick a strong password and use WPA2 encryption to protect yourself against hackers and people looking for free WiFi access. Then, open NetSpot or other WiFi signal strength app and see which channel other wireless networks in your area use. To avoid interference, you want to configure your router to use the least cluttered channel. Luckily, this is as easy as changing one setting. Use NetSpot or another app to verify the effect of the changed settings on your signal strength.

It doesn’t take much time to find a better place for your router with an app like NetSpot, and it also doesn’t take much time to configure the router to perform to its fullest potential. So, whenever you find yourself not satisfied with the performance of your wireless network, instead of writing an angry email to your Internet service provider, consider downloading a WiFi signal meter app like NetSpot to easily discover where the problem may be. The chances are that you’ll be able to fix it by yourself in no time.


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with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless network adapter.