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.
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.
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 videos, 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.
A site survey is a detailed analysis of a specific coverage area. This analysis is typically performed to optimize the placement or configuration of an existing WiFi router, aid the deployment of a new WiFi network, or troubleshoot performance-limiting issues.
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 into 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.
The information typically shown by WiFi site survey software applications includes the estimated signal strength and channel usage for each wireless network, sources of interference, areas of weak signal strength, and more. These and other results provide valuable answers to the question, "How to get the best WiFi coverage?".
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.
Most networking professionals identify the following three main types of site surveys:
As you can see, the answer to the question, "What is a site survey?" really depends on which survey type you're talking about. In the real world, the above-described types of WiFi site surveys are typically combined, so that's something to keep in mind when learning how to do a site survey for wireless network deployments and optimizations.
Wireless site surveying can be broken down into a series of steps whose shared goal is to optimally design and deploy a wireless network. Let's take a look at the main steps you should always consider when learning how to do a wireless site survey, also referred to as an RF site survey:
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.
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.
Next, launch NetSpot and switch to the Survey mode using the prominent button at the top of the main window.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A site survey includes a detailed analysis of signal strength, interference, channel and band settings, and other parameters. Such surveys are typically performed to determine the optimal location for a WiFi router or to troubleshoot WiFi-related issues.
A WiFi site survey is conducted using a specialized WiFi site survey software application like NetSpot running on a laptop or mobile device.
The three main types of WiFi surveying are predictive surveys, passive surveys, and active surveys, with each type serving a different purpose.
To do a wireless site survey, you need only a laptop, tablet, or smartphone with specialized wireless site survey software running on it. The software will then help you collect all necessary data and turn it into actionable insights.
There are only two tools you need when performing a site survey: