How many ‘bars’ do you have on your WiFi right now? A strong four or five ‘bars’ or a weak one or two? Have you ever wondered why moving you device just a few inches can make a world of difference in terms of WiFi signal reception?
Have you ever wanted a more accurate measurement of your WiFi signal, do you want to know what ‘channel’ your WiFi signal is using, do you want to know your WiFi router’s MAC address?
Or maybe you want to find out a little more about the WiFi networks around you or even see ‘hidden’ networks?
Well all of this and more is possible, but only available through WiFi network analyzer programs or Apps. If you are using a PC/laptop or tablet then head over to the MetaGeek site and download InSSIDer, they have a number of versions available, if you are a wireless radio engineer you will probably already be using one of their paid products. But for the general man in the street the free version will work fine.
Most people will want a more portable version and there are hundreds of Apps which do exactly the same thing. If you are an Android user then Wifi Analyzer will do the job just fine or you can browse the Play Store for another one you like the look of, however most of them perform exactly the same function.
If you are using an Apple device then the Network Analyzer Lite App will give you all the same information.
Now the difference between the information these Apps/programs give you compared to the WiFi settings on your PC/phone is that they are far more detailed and will show almost every WiFi network in range. By default the WiFi settings on your phone/laptop will only show networks where the signal is usually above 30% or 40%, WiFi analyzers will show networks even if the signal strength is just 1%, too weak to connect to but useful to know. You might see a ‘StarBucks WiFi’ pop up with just a 5% signal strength, this network would not be displayed in your regular WiFi settings, so if you want free WiFi you will now only have to move physically closer to the store.
Another great feature is being able to see which of the 14 ‘channels’ each WiFi network is using, most WiFi routers default to a just a few channels, meaning they all perform poorly, once you can find the least congested channel you can change your router settings and instantly enjoy faster WiFi!
If you are planning on using a WiFi range extender or one of the WiFi hacking apps listed on our site then you will need to know the MAC address of the WiFi router, now this is like a serial number and had nothing to do with Apple Mac computers. The MAC address is a unique identifier, like an address or ZIP/Post code and is usually presented in a format like like 01:D3:45:67:89:AB and will appear close to the WiFi network name in brackets in one of the Apps or programs listed above.
So go out and take a closer look at your wireless environment!