What do you know about WiFi?

WiFi is all around us, yet how much do we know about the technology? Here we answered most common questions about wireless networks that are an integral part of our everyday life.

What is WiFi

WiFi is a technology for radio wireless local area networking of devices based on the IEEE 802.11 set of standards. The term "Wi-Fi" is trademark by the Wi-Fi Alliance, a non-profit organization consisting of more than 800 companies. Devices that use Wi-Fi technology include desktops, laptops, smartphones, printers, smart TV sets, etc. WiFi has become an integral part of modern communication and has made it possible to stay connected to the internet from almost anywhere.

What does WiFi stand for?

It's commonly believed that WiFi is short for Wireless Fidelity, but that's actually not true. The name was created by the brand-consulting firm Interbrand, which was hired by the Wi-Fi Alliance to find a catchier name for the IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence wireless networking specification. In fact, the Wi-Fi Alliance itself has stated that the name WiFi does not stand for anything, but is simply a term coined to represent wireless networks.

How does WiFi work?

WiFi networks transmit data over the air with the help of radio waves, similar to traditional radio. WiFi radio waves typically have a frequency of 2.4, 5.8, or 6 GHz. These frequency bands carry multiple WiFi channels, with a multitude of networks using them.

For example, downloading a file from the Internet over a wireless network requires your router to first receive the data via the broadband Internet connection and then convert it to radio waves. Radio waves are then emitted by the router into the surrounding area, and the device that initially requested a download receives the radio signal. It decodes the signal and fetches the data.

What is WiFi calling?

WiFi calling is the technology that allows cell phone packets to be forwarded to a network access point over the Internet, rather than over-the-air via GSM/GPRS, UMTS or else. This is especially useful when the phone is located in some place with poor cellular coverage, but with better coverage of other types, like Internet access.

What is WiFi direct?

WiFi Direct is a standard that allows devices to connect with each other directly without joining a traditional office, hotspot, or home network, which makes printing, sharing, syncing much easier.

What Is an IP Address?

Anyone who uses the internet should be able to answer the question, "What is an IP address?" Why? Because an IP address is like a street address for an internet-connected device. It tells other devices how to find it, and it allows the device itself to reach other devices.

If you don't know what your IP address is and which geographic location the address is associated with, then you can perform something called IP lookup. This can be done using readily available online tools and used for various purposes, such as detecting fraudulent activities or identifying the source of cyber attacks.

The problem with IP lookups is that anyone can perform them to instantly get a general idea of the location of your IP address. If you would like to prevent that from happening, then you can hide your IP address to increase your online privacy and security.

What Is a WiFi Heatmap?

A WiFi heatmap is like a map of a wireless network environment. It shows where the WiFi signal is strong and where it's weak, using colors to visually represent different strength levels. For example, a strong WiFi signal is typically represented by a green color, while a weak WiFi signal is usually visualized using various shades of red. A WiFi heatmap is a useful tool for planning and troubleshooting wireless networks.

What Is the Best WiFi Heatmap Software?

The best WiFi heatmap software can greatly simplify the creation of a WiFi heatmap, allowing even regular home users to quickly and painlessly end up with a detailed map of a wireless network environment. Here are brief descriptions of the best WiFi heatmap software solutions currently available:

  • NetSpot: NetSpot is a user-friendly WiFi mapping tool for Mac and Windows. The tool has two distinct modes of operation — one for gathering information about surrounding WiFi networks, and the other one for creating WiFi heatmaps.
  • Ekahau HeatMapper: This heatmapping software is designed to remove any guesswork out of the creation of WiFi heatmaps and support all commonly used types of visualizations.
  • Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps: Regardless of whether you're a newbie, power user, or expert, Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps can always provide the right amount of information thanks to its customizable report generator with three levels of detail.
  • VisiWave Site Survey: Windows users who want to survey a larger outdoor area to analyze how well it is covered with a WiFi signal can use VisiWave Site Survey and take advantage of its GPS positioning capabilities.
  • AirMagnet Survey PRO: With its support for predictive modeling of WiFi 6 networks, AirMagnet Survey PRO is a WiFi heatmap software application that saves time and delivers reliable results.

What Is a WiFi Site Survey?

A WiFi site survey is a detailed analysis of a wireless environment whose goal is to determine the best location for a router or access point or troubleshoot issues with an existing network. WiFi site surveys are essential for ensuring reliable WiFi coverage, especially in large and complex structures like offices, hotels, and hospitals.

A WiFi site survey can be performed before, during, and after deployment using a professional WiFi site survey tool like NetSpot. The outcome of a WiFi site survey is usually a WiFi heatmap of the surveyed area, which displays the strength of the signal in various locations and identifies areas that need improvement.

How to get free WiFi

There are various ways of getting free WiFi anywhere. You can use a hotspot database app like Wiman, WiFimapper, etc., or share your smartphone's Internet connection or find coffee shops and restaurants around you offering free WiFi. To look for hidden WiFi networks and check whether your own network is discoverable and can be used by others, use the NetSpot app.

More information here.

Who is on my WiFi?

Keeping your WiFi secure is rather important and not always easy with ever-evolving ways hackers use to break in. So far the easiest way of checking who was using your WiFi is by looking through the router's logs, which usually contain the IP address and the name of connected devices.

If you notice that a phone is connected to your network that no one in your household owns, then it is possible that an intruder is using your bandwidth. If your router allows you to disconnect devices from the network, just do so and change your password right away. And of course, choose a stronger password this time.

A comprehensive WiFi analysis app can help you understand why someone has been able to successfully join your wireless network without being authorized to do so.

Why is my WiFi so slow?

WiFi depends on radio waves and if there is any interference or substantial obstacles on their way they can be slowed down. Sources of interference often are electronic appliances, including microwave ovens, refrigerators, televisions, transistor radios, or Bluetooth devices.

An older router might also be the reason for a slower Wi-Fi. Read more about the reasons for a slower wireless network connection and possible solutions here.

How fast is my WiFi

To test your WiFi speed, try using a WiFi analyzer app, such as NetSpot. There are also online WiFi speed tests available that can offer brief information about your network latency, upload and download speeds.

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How to change WiFi name?

To change the name of your WiFi network (aka SSID or Service Set Identifier), you'll need to visit your router’s admin page.

  1. Open your web browser and enter your router’s IP address.
  2. Log in as the administrator.
  3. In the settings look for “WiFi name” or “SSID” option.
  4. There type in the new name for the network.

How to change WiFi channel

First of all you'll need to log into your router’s admin interface. In case you haven't done this before and are not sure what your router's IP address is, open a Command Prompt in Windows and type “ipconfig” without quotation marks. Find “Default Gateway”, copy and paste the address next to it into your browser’s search bar.

Once you are in, you'll be asked to enter your router admin password. If you haven't changed it earlier, try a regular "admin" password, or refer to "How to find WiFi password" section of this article.

Every router is made differently, but most of them have an option to choose a different WiFi channel in their settings. If you looked through all the settings and couldn't find this option, try looking through the router's User Manual to see if it has this option and where to find it.

How to change WiFi password?

To change your WiFi password, follow these steps:

  1. In your regular web browser enter your router’s IP address.
  2. Log in as the administrator.
  3. In the settings look for a “Security” option.
  4. Your router should be set to WPA2.
  5. Enter your new password. Make sure it is strong.

You might need to restart your router once you have created new password. Then you will have to reconnect all devices to the network using your new password.

What does a strong WiFi password mean?

A strong password is the one that can withstand random breach attempts, including popular dictionary attacks. First off, be aware that passwords like qwerty, 12345, password, abc123, 11111, 987654321, 7777777, 555555, 123123, 1234567890, 123456789, qwertyuiop, adminadmin are NOT STRONG.

On the contrary, these passwords will be tried in the first place. Avoid using the same password for all of your accounts — variety is your best friend here. Passwords that can be guessed based on personal information about you are also a no-go.

A strong password is long (not less than 8 characters) and contains uppercase, lowercase letters, as well as numbers and special characters. You can randomly capitalize a few words or replace some characters with numbers.

How to find WiFi password

If after you purchased and installed your router you've kept the original password, then you can look for this information online according to your router's model and manufacturer. You can read more here.

How to Share WiFi Password on Any Device?

Sharing your WiFi password with others can be helpful, but it's important to do it securely. Here's a quick summary of how to your share WiFi password on any device:

  • Android: To share WiFi password on Android, go to WiFi settings, and generate a QR code for the network you want to share.
  • iOS: Tap the Share Password button to share a password with a device whose Apple ID is in your list of contacts.
  • Windows: Open the Control Panel and go to the Network and Sharing Center so that you can display your current network's password.
  • macOS: Launch the Keychain Access tool and look for an entry corresponding to your WiFi network.

How to boost WiFi signal

The first thing here would be to determine the issue causing a poor WiFi signal. We recommend using a WiFi analyzer app, such as NetSpot. An app like NetSpot will help you get an idea of what's going on. The possible fixes usually include:

  • Select an optimal placement for your router;
  • Update your router firmware;
  • Get a stronger antenna;
  • Reduce interference;
  • Consider installing a WiFi extender, etc.

Read more: Top 15 ways to Boost your WiFi.

How to forget a WiFi network on Mac

This is an easy process. Here's what you should do:

  1. Click the WiFi symbol at the top right menu bar and choose the Open Network Preferences option which should be the last one on the list.
  2. Click the "Advanced…" button located at the bottom right of the pop-up window.
  3. Select the WiFi network you'd like to forget and click the minus sign just a little below the list. Click OK.

How do WiFi extenders work?

Some call it a WiFi booster, some — WiFi repeater, regardless of the name, WiFi extenders work similarly: pick up the WiFi signal from an existing network, amplify it, and retransmit the boosted signal.

Basically WiFi range extenders contain two routers, one designated for receiving signal, another — for broadcasting. Thanks to being dedicated to one exact task, they do, what they are supposed to really well. A WiFi card in your laptop doesn’t measure more than an inch across, while a wireless repeater can measure anywhere from the size of a smartphone charger to a size of an enterprise-grade router.

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