A WiFi mapper, sometimes called simply a heatmapper, is a software application that can create a WiFi heat map, which is a special WiFi coverage map that visually highlights all areas of signal weakness and dead zones.
Heat maps are used to make adjustments and improve wireless coverage. It used to be that only trained networking professionals knew how to create heat maps using specialized software that would be completely inaccessible to regular home users. But times have changed, and heat map software is now more accessible than ever.
That’s great news for regular home users who are not satisfied with their WiFi and would like to improve it without calling over a technician and potentially paying hundreds of dollars for a simple fix.
When you create heap maps with a WiFi mapper such as NetSpot, you will see a plan of your area overlaid by a colorful representation of WiFi strength. Typically, greenish and bluish colors indicate a weaker signal, while yellowish and reddish colors indicate a stronger signal.
A WiFi map may also have several blank spots on it. Such spots are commonly called dead zones, and they represent places with no or extremely weak WiFi signal. Dead zones are the nemesis of all WiFi users as they may cause connection drops when roaming from one room to another. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to eliminate them with a capable WiFi mapper and the knowledge of how to create a heat map with it.
When selecting the best WiFi mapping software available, we’ve placed emphasis on ease of use as this article is intended primarily for regular home users who wish to improve the quality of their WiFi. But ease of use isn’t the only criteria we’ve considered. Features, price, and support are all just as important, and our choice of the best WiFi mapping software reflects this.
NetSpot is a tried and tested heatmapper with two distinct WiFi analysis modes, and a user interface so simple that anyone can use it without reading the manual.
To create a WiFi heat map with NetSpot, just start the application, switch to Survey Mode and click on the “Start a new survey” option. Pick a name for your survey project and select the correct settings for it. Next, either draw a new map of the area you wish to survey or upload an existing one. NetSpot will then instruct you to walk from spot to spot on the map until you’ve covered it all. As you can see, creating a WiFi heat map with NetSpot is extremely simplyand quick.
NetSpot works on Mac and Windows and is available for free. Free 7-day activation codes of NetSpot PRO are available upon request. NetSpot PRO can capture up to 50 zones per project and up to 50 snapshots per zone. In total, NetSpot Pro is able to record 500 data points per a single heat map and visualize an unlimited number of access points.
SolarWinds Wi-Fi Heat Map is a capable heat mapper that is available as a fully functioning trial software that can be used for up to 30 days without any limitations. It can automatically create custom Wi-Fi heat maps, find dead zones, and map the location of connected clients.
SolarWinds Wi-Fi Heat Map is part of a broad suite of networking applications that includes a comprehensive network bandwidth analysis and performance monitoring tool with features intended to help you monitor and analyze network bandwidth performance and traffic patterns, identify bandwidth hogs and see which applications are using the most bandwidth, and track response time, availability, and uptime of routers, switches, and other SNMP-enabled devices.
Other applications in SolarWinds’ suite include systems management software, cloud monitoring tools, and IT security products.
As such, SolarWinds Wi-Fi Heat Map is best suited for those who are heavily invested in SolarWinds’ ecosystem of enterprise-grade products. Yes, regular home users may use it as well, but they shouldn’t expect to receive the same kind of product support as the users of NetSpot, for example.
Ekahau Wi-Fi Site Survey and Planner is an enterprise WiFi planning and wireless site survey tool with a number of attractive features. It supports 802.11n, as well as a/b/g, wireless networks, can locate all access points — even those that are hidden — can detect security settings, works on any Windows and macOS laptop and desktop computer, and is free of charge.
To satisfy the needs of enterprise users, Ekahau Wi-Fi site Survey and Planner comes with the industry's fastest 3D prediction engine with multi-floor and multi-building planning capabilities. It can also create summarized reports of the bill of materials, coverage and performance maps, capacity information, and the entire network layout with a single click of a button.
Being an enterprise-first product, Ekahau Wi-Fi Site Survey and Planner may be a bit too much for regular users, which is why we’ve picked NetSpot as our number one choice instead. NetSpot has many of the same capabilities as Ekahau Wi-Fi Site Survey and Planner, but it presents them in a much more approachable fashion.