What is a WiFi Scanner?
A WiFi scanner uses your computer's WiFi adapter to scan for wireless networks. It lists out all of the networks that are nearby, as well as some information about them.
It also visualizes which channel each wireless network is on.
Why is WiFi Scanning Important?
If you know what is happening in your wireless environment, you can use that data to fix problems, or just improve the performance of your network.
Most people use inSSIDer to:
- Make sure your network is secure
- Fix WiFi coverage problems
Put Your Router on the Best Channel
inSSIDer visualizes what channel each WiFi channel is on, to see how they share channels, and how they partially overlap. One of the most common uses of a WiFi scanner is to make sure that your router or AP is using the best channel.
This access point (in blue) is on a bad channel, because it partially overlaps with a lot of other networks (all colored red).
Sharing a channel is always better than partially overlapping. This network is on a much better channel, even if it shares with a lot of other networks on channel 6.
inSSIDer has tools built-in to evaluate your environment, and pick the best channel for you. Find out how it works here!
Make Sure Your Network is Secure
There are lots of different types of security that you can use on your wireless network, and inSSIDer detects that for you. It lists the type of security in use, but also provides a "lock" icon to show whether the network is open, secure, or using a broken form of security.
This icon indicates that the selected network has a poor or broken form of security. For more details about security, check out the inSSIDer free User Guide.
Check for Dead Spots
Dead spots can be very frustrating, and they are one of the most common pain points in WiFi, especially at home. Every online guide about WiFi ever written says, "move your access point to a better spot!" to fix coverage problems. This is a good tactic, but with inSSIDer, you can measure whether moving your router made a difference or not.
1. Find your network in the SSID list, and click on it.
2. Select your desired radio, if applicable.
3. Watch the signal strength over time graph, and walk around the desired coverage area
Your network will be colored blue. The loudest network that is sharing the channel will be yellow, and the loudest network that is on a partially overlapping channel will be red.
4. If the signal strength dips below about -70 dBm, then you've got a weak spot. If it dips below -80 dBm, then you have a dead spot.
Note: Remember that we are working in negatives, which can be a bit confusing at first. -80 is a very low signal strength, and -30 is a super high signal strength. You can find out more about what is considered a good signal strength here.
For a more complete guide about all of the functions in inSSIDer free, check out the full inSSIDer free User Guide.
To help encourage our engineering team to develop inSSIDer for Mac, feel free to visit and donate to our Indiegogo campaign here!