One of the greatest advancements in networking over the past 15 years is the availability of wireless networking. Most homes today have one or more wireless networks, and the convenience factor of wireless connectivity is something that most people can't imagine being without. However, when wireless networks don't quite work as well as we'd like, it can be extremely difficult to figure out what's wrong. Too often, people resort to simply rebooting a WiFi router or access point, a step that might temporarily resolve an issue but isn't likely to fix anything long-term.
Enter MetaGeek's inSSIDer. Using inSSIDer, you can easily have a look at all of the WiFi networks in your area and you can ensure that you're using the best settings for your particular scenario. You can easily see a visual representation of all networks, including which channel they're operating on and radio strength.
One of the most common problems many people encounter when it comes to WiFi is channel congestion. Most people have a WiFi router or access point in their home, and the frequency range these radios are allowed to use is relatively narrow. Therefore, all of these wireless networks are in competition for a clear signal. It might not be much of an issue for you if other wireless radios are far enough away so that their signal is weak, but if you live in a crowded metropolitan area or an apartment building, you might be plagued with problems. By examining the in-range networks using inSSIDer, you can easily see where the best channels are for your WiFi networks. Even if you aren't sure, you can let inSSIDer tell you which channel is the recommended channel for your particular scenario.
You can see from the screenshot above that there are numerous 2.4GHz radios operating in my area. In my neighborhood, houses are relatively far apart and I don't experience many issues with interference. (That's why the "Thinknet24" network in my home is so much taller than the other networks. The taller the network, the stronger the signal.) However, if I were closer to some of these radios, I might easily experience connectivity issues due to the crowded spectrum. In that case, I might want to try a 5GHz radio (if my hardware allows it) or I might want to find a channel that is shared by radios with the lowest signal strength.
"inSSIDer is an indispensible tool when it comes to troubleshooting wireless networking."
Another great feature in inSSIDer is the ability to check out the settings of a particular network. I was configuring my 5GHz network in my router and I had it set to use VHT80 (a very-high throughput setting which should give me a wide channel range and a maximum data rate of over 1GB/s), but when I checked the network with inSSIDer, I found that it was operating at half that data rate. It turns out that there was a firmware bug in my router and it was causing me to get only half of the throughput I should have been getting. I knew that something was wrong, but I hadn't been able to correctly diagnose the issue until I used inSSIDer to see what was really going on with my network. For me, this was anecdotal proof that inSSIDer is an indispensible tool when it comes to troubleshooting wireless networking.
As you can see above, once I updated my firmware to a version that fixed the bug, I'm now getting a max data rate of 1300 whereas before it was only 600, despite my router reporting that it was set to VHT80.
If you operate any WiFi networks in your home, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of inSSIDer 4 Personal. It'll set you back a meager 20 bucks, a true bargain no matter how you measure it. If you're an IT professional with the need to manage small WiFi networks, you can find even more powerful features in inSSIDer Office. Whichever edition is right for your needs, you simply can't find a more reliable and easy-to-use tool for optimizing your WiFi experience.