Tips and hints: running a wireless site survey

Note that the Survey mode is available in the paid version of NetSpot (Home, PRO, Enterprise).

Here are a few tips to help you out. Know a good one that’s missing from our article? Send it to us and we’ll post it here as well.

NetSpot WiFi site survey tool for macOS is available

  1. Review our area map (floor plan) recommendations before you begin.
  2. Start at a convenient corner and follow a somewhat zig-zag path through the space you wish to scan.
  3. Your goal should be to end up with most of your map covered in blue circles, with the circles overlapping a bit at the edges. If a measurement overlaps too much (or not at all), click the Undo icon in the upper-right corner and take another sample in a better position.
  4. Corridors (hallways) have to be surveyed in 2 lines: either by walking in a zigzag pattern from wall to wall, or by walking along one wall and then along the other one.
  5. Each room in your survey area needs to have at least 3-4 samples taken inside of it. Make sure the corners are covered and that there are samples in the middle of the room as well.
  6. If a room is normally locked, request access to it — any blank areas in your survey could hide possible sources of noise.
  7. For outdoor area surveys, you can place sampling points further apart and the blue circles do not necessarily need to overlap. Make sure you have selected the correct data point precision value for the outdoor surveys to improve the guess range of NetSpot.
  8. When surveying a large area, you can take fewer measurements if the area is relatively empty and open. If there are many obstacles (walls, tables, machinery), you will need to make more frequent stops to ensure identification of dead spots.
  9. Do not re-measure the same spot twice. (Readings from two close points with different data can result in an inaccurate heatmap)
  10. Keep your laptop still while a measurement is being taken.
  11. Don’t take long pauses between measurements. In order to be accurate, all measurements need to be taken under the same conditions.
  12. Try not to make any changes to your environment while surveying your area: don’t open or close doors, move furniture around, etc. Keep everything the way it normally is during regular working conditions.
  13. If you do decide to change something in your environment, make sure you redo the whole survey.
  14. Be sure to take readings from the entire perimeter of the area, as well as in the center.
  15. There is no need to get samples on both sides of an open doorway — one sample right in the doorway is enough. If the door is usually closed, keep the door closed and take samples on both sides.
  16. There’s no need to take samples close to each other if there are no obstacles between them — the Signal Level is unlikely to change significantly.
  17. You may get better signal strength readings in the early morning or evening, when there aren’t so many people around, and there are fewer electronic devices providing interference. However, if you want to map realistic “everyday” conditions, then you will want to take your readings during a busy time of day. Snapshots are ideal to monitor the changing conditions.
  18. Avoid taking readings during lightning storms or heavy downpours. Excessive humidity or high temperatures may also affect your readings.
  19. We definitely recommend turning off all potentially conflicting electronic appliances when running a survey, like microwave ovens, radio telephones, and even cell phones. Of course, this doesn’t apply if you are searching for sources of noise.
  20. If you are performing a survey on your macOS computer the previous point applies to any other apps accessing your Airport adapter when the survey is active: turn them off. And be sure to turn off Internet Sharing on your MacBook as well.
  21. Make sure all the networks have names in Latin characters. If they don’t, this may lead to unexpected survey errors and network connectivity issues (mostly related to a bug in WebKit, which cannot be fixed on our side).

Have a great survey.

updated: November 10, 2023 author: nsjill
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