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How to Perform WiFi Site Surveys

If you want to get the most out of your internet connection, you need to learn how to perform WiFi site surveys so that you can evaluate how your WiFi network is performing and take the steps necessary to improve it.
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  • NetSpot
  • Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting
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  • 969 User reviews
You don’t see them, but WiFi networks are everywhere. When you wake up in the morning, you use your home WiFi network to check the latest social media posts and the morning traffic. A different WiFi network keeps you connected to the internet during your train or subway commute to work, and a large enterprise-grade WiFi network allows you to reply to emails from coworkers as soon as you arrive.

At least that’s the convenience WiFi networks promise. In reality, there are many different factors that influence the strength of a WiFi signal and potentially make WiFi networks unreliable.

What Can Get in the Way of Your WiFi Signal?

Unlike electricity, WiFi signals don’t have the luxury of traveling through shielded cables. Instead, they travel through the atmosphere, making them susceptible to many different kinds of signal interference.

Buildings, trees, and other physical objects challenge the ability of WiFi signals to penetrate dense materials without losing too much power. While 2.4 GHz WiFi signals are fairly good at penetrating solid objects, the signals broadcasted by modern 5 GHz WiFi routers are not.

Some objects get in the way of your WiFi signals not just because they act as obstacles but also because they emit electromagnetic interference. You probably have at least a few objects like this at home, such as a microwave, cordless phone, baby monitor, or shortwave radio.

It doesn’t take much work to place your WiFi router far away from household objects that emit electromagnetic interference, but it’s much more difficult to avoid the interference caused by other WiFi networks. Their impact on the strength of your WiFi signal can be especially significant if you live in a densely populated urban area and not in the countryside.

WiFi Site Surveys to the Rescue

At this point, you probably understand why WiFi surveys are necessary. There are simply too many factors that can negatively affect the performance of your WiFi network and make it impossible for you to browse the web, watch online video, or send an email.

Unless you don’t mind wasting hours and hours of your life trying different router placements and settings, you’re much better off performing a WiFi site survey and instantly seeing where your WiFi signal is the strongest and where it’s the weakest.

Typically, WiFi site surveys are conducted using a WiFi site survey software application that collects various WiFi signal metrics and analyzes them. Before a survey, an area map is imported the software application, which then overlays the gathered data on top of it. During the survey, the user moves around the surveyed area and collects WiFi signal metrics. Once finished, the WiFi site survey software application analyzes the results and presents them to the user.

Since the entire process is largely automated, even users who have very limited prior experience with WiFi networks and wireless site surveys shouldn’t run into any problems. Of course, not all WiFi site survey software applications are equally easy to use — or equally capable — which is why it’s important to select one that combines ease of use with impressive capabilities, and NetSpot fits this description perfectly.

Performing a WiFi Site Survey with NetSpot

NetSpot is a professional wireless site survey software application for macOS and Windows. It has two modes — Discover and Survey — and these two modes can be used to easily visualize signal coverage, manage nearby networks, troubleshoot various WiFi-related issues, audit wireless routers, plan site survey projects, and deploy wireless networks .

The Discover mode provides a quick snapshot of nearby WiFi networks, and it’s useful in situations that don’t call for a comprehensive WiFi site survey. The second mode, Survey, can be activated with a single click, and this is the mode you want to use to perform a comprehensive WiFi site survey.

Step 1: Download NetSpot and Activate NetSpot

NetSpot meets the requirements of professional network administrators, and available on macOS, and Windows (Android is currently with the Discover mode only).

To get started, download the free edition of NetSpot and install it. To perform a WiFi Site survey you’ll need paid version of NetSpot to be activated (Home, PRO, or Enterprise). For more details about the licenses available, please check here.

Discover Mode NetSpot

Step 2: Launch NetSpot and Switch to the Survey Mode

Next, launch NetSpot and switch to the Survey mode using the prominent button at the top of the main window.

Step 3: Start a New Survey

To start a new survey, you must first give your WiFi site survey project a name and import a map of the area you want to survey. If you don’t have any, you can draw one right in NetSpot. You will be asked to select two points on the map and input the actual distance between them.

NetSpot — New survey

Step 4: Scan the Surveyed Area

Now the fun part: move from one place to another until you cover the whole area and gather enough data for NetSpot to create a WiFi site survey report. Click the Stop Scan button located in the bottom-left corner when you’re done.

NetSpot Stop Scan

Step 5: Analyze the Results

Thanks to NetSpot’s user-friendly nature, you should immediately see any areas of signal weakness. It’s then up to you to take the necessary steps to get rid of them, which may be as simple as moving your WiFi router a few feet to one side.

Survey mode NetSpot
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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.
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Conclusion

There’s no reason to live with a poor WiFi signal, frequent connection drops, slow download and upload speeds, and high latency. Thanks to WiFi site survey software applications like NetSpot, anyone can learn how to perform a WiFi site survey and quickly solve common WiFi problems. As we’ve explained in this article, all it takes to get the most out of your internet connection is the right tool and 5 simple steps.

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Read next in All about Wi-Fi

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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.