We’ve come to depend on WiFi networks. It’s no longer just our personal electronic devices that connect to the Internet. Now, common household appliances and even our cars require an Internet connection to download updates from remote servers, upload diagnostic information, and make available all the features they come with.
As more people than ever connect to the Internet wirelessly, the density of WiFi networks increases and it becomes difficult to achieve decent download and upload speeds. This happens because the WiFi frequency range is inherently limited. The 2.4 GHz frequency range, which most routers operate on, is divided into several channels.
Each of these channels has a WiFi channel width of just 20 MHz, but the individual channels are spaced only 5 MHz apart. Consequently, adjacent channels overlap and interfere with each other. To avoid this interference, it’s recommended to leave three or four channels clear between used channels.
Most WiFi users are not aware of this recommendation, and even those who are sometimes don't adhere to it because they don’t have a reliable WiFi channel scanner Windows app that would allow them to see which WiFi channels are the busiest and which are used the least.
A WiFi channel analyzer can detect all wireless networks in your area and find out which channel each network runs on. Most WiFi channel analyzer Windows and macOS apps then display the discovered wireless networks on a graph, making it easy to see which networks overlap and which don’t.
If you’re interested in WiFi channel scanner apps for Windows because you would like to improve your network, you should pick a WiFi channel scanner app that supports all WiFi standards so you get as much information as possible, and you should also pick an app that’s easy to use so you don’t waste your time learning obscure commands just to see which wireless channel is likely to give you the best results.
We’ve selected our top five favorite WiFi channel scanners and ranked them based on their user-friendliness, features, and reliability, among other factors.
NetSpot is our favorite WiFi channel analyzer Windows app. NetSpot is both a fast SSID scanner as well as a comprehensive wireless survey tool. NetSpot offers users two distinct modes of operation: Discover mode, which is completely free, and Survey mode.
If you only want to detect channel overlap, the Discover mode is all you need as it can instantly detect all wireless networks in your area and find out which channel each network runs on. NetSpot can then display the entire 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequency range and visualize the usage of individual WiFi channels. The Survey mode is great for finding the best place for your router as it allows you to create a detailed signal strength heatmap of your home.
NetSpot automatically highlights WiFi signal dead zones, so you can clearly see how the placement of your router affects the distribution of the signal.
Available from Microsoft Store, WiFi Analyzer is a handy utility for performing quick wireless network assessments. WiFi Analyzer is clearly aimed at home users who need only the most basic features. The free version of the app is supported by ads, and it can display information about your wireless network as well as all other wireless networks in your area.
You can also support the developer by purchasing the Pro version of the via in-app purchases. The Pro version features live-tile support, a beeper for signal strength, filters, lock screen rotation, and the ability to change signal strength borders.
Take command of your wireless network with WiFi Commander, a WiFi channel scanner app for the Windows 10 operating system. WiFi Commander features a unique touch-friendly 3D analysis of channel distributions as well as a unique real-time signal level monitor.
WiFi Commander allows you to filter, sort, and group available networks, which is essential if you live in a densely populated area. The app is only 4 to 5 MB large, and it doesn’t come with any ads at all. So far, WiFi Commander has received stellar reviews, and the developers are working hard on updates and improvements.
Acrylic Wi-Fi Home is a free WiFi scanner that displays information of the security mechanisms and obtains generic WiFi passwords thanks to its plugin system. Acrylic Wi-Fi Home supports 802.11/a/b/g/n/ac networks, and it can scan WiFi network channels in the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequency range. Depending on your needs, you may choose between Acrylic WiFi Home and Acrylic WiFi Pro.
Acrylic WiFi Home is available for free, but its functionality is limited to wireless network scanning. Acrylic WiFi Pro comes with an unlimited network inventory and Wireshark integration, making it perfect for professional network administrators.
InSSIDer is a trusted WiFi analysis app for Microsoft Windows. It features a unique spectrograph view that clearly highlights all cases of channel overlap, helping you avoid congested channels. InSSIDer is aimed at professional network administrators who need to manage hundreds of access points on a daily basis, which means that home users may find some of its feature slightly daunting.
However, the modern user interface and excellent online help go a long way in making inSSIDer accessible even to less experienced users.