When it comes to WiFi technology, either in a home network setting or in an enterprise environment, the major issue most people struggle with is poor wireless coverage and dead spots.
Unfortunately, the nature of all wireless signals is such that they suffer from interference, they get blocked by objects in their path etc.
Two of the main factors causing WiFi problems have to do with bad placement of the WiFi router or Access Point and also bad channel selection in a frequency band that has interference from other wireless devices.
In order to fix the two problems above (and many others), you need to have “visibility” in the wireless spectrum and signals that exist in your space. This obviously can’t be done with a naked eye.
This is where WiFi analyzer tools/software come into play.
As the name suggests, WiFi analyzers are designed to uncover potential problems with your WiFi by measuring and displaying in a graphical form all wireless signals and frequency channels/bands in your home or work network.
Depending on the program that you choose, the software will be able to do a number of things ranging from helping you find the best place for the router/access-point to giving you essential information about your network as well as other networks around you.
For example, if you run your WiFi router at channels 1, 6 or 11 (which are usually the default channels configured on WiFi devices), there is a high chance that many other neighboring routers work at the same channels as well. This will cause interference and therefore loss in signal strength and quality.
Therefore, If you want to optimize your WiFi, you are definitely going to want to have a WiFi analyzer.
Here are 12 of the best analyzers out there that are compatible with the Windows Operating System such as Windows 7 , Windows 10 etc.
(Note that the list below is in no particular order.)
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There’s a good chance that a WiFi analyzer from the Windows Store itself is going to be reliable, considering that Microsoft has a reputation to hold up.
While the app itself is free, there are in-app purchases that you can make, so keep this in mind.
It can perform all the basic functions of a WiFi analyzer on the free version, meaning that you don’t have to drop a penny to learn more about your own network.
If you are running a Windows laptop, then this is definitely a software to look at because you can just install the app and turn your laptop into a spectrum analysis tool.
The app will show all WiFi devices emitting signals in your vicinity and also the strength and channel number of each device.
If you see that there are many other WiFi routers working on the same channel as your own router, then you must change your own channel to avoid all this interference. This is how I managed to improve considerably my own home wifi signal.
The Acrylic scanner is designed to be used at home, rather than at businesses or other areas, and is free for Windows 10. Note however that there is also a Professional version (paid) which is for larger scale projects.
Not only will it scan WiFi, but it will also be able to visualize channels for you in both 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz.
This means that you can easily scan your 802.11AC dual band network which is the most-used protocol in wifi right now. Moreover, it even supports 802.11AX which is the newest WiFi 6 standard that will dominate the technology in the future.
It can show you the signal strength of the WiFi network through graphs and the free version is completely compatible with Windows 10. This program will also show you all available wireless devices that are around you, such as smartphones, laptops, routers etc.
Ekahau is slightly different than other WiFi analyzers. While it does do analytics like the other tools, it also shows you a heatmap of your area, showing where the strongest signal is and whether or not walls are interfering with the signal getting to you.
This tool is one of the most popular heat map apps used by thousands of home users and professionals alike.
The HeatMapper version is free but they offer also an Enterprise version, the Ekahau Pro edition.
Basically you can map out all signals available in your area together with all access points and routers.
Like the two previous apps in the list, it will help you locate the best position to place your own WiFi router and also the best channel to configure on your devices for the lowest interference.
Keep in mind that it works only on Windows for now.
Like many other network analyzers, NetSpot offers the same type of analytics involving signal strength and coverage, where you can move around to get a signal map, and so on.
However, it offers a little bit more than just that. NetSpot advertises itself as a professional app for wireless site surveys, meaning that it could very well be used in business environments in addition to SOHO.
While it is completely compatible with Windows 7, 8, and 10, it can also be used on Mac, which can be helpful if your laptop happens to be a Macbook instead of a traditional Windows computer.
One feature I like about NetSpot is that you can also test the WiFi speed that can be achieved in every spot of your network area. This is possible with NetSpot’s Active Scanning feature.
There is a free and paid version of this tool. Even the free version offers so many features that will be very useful for most users.
Vistumber, unlike some other WiFi scanners, is a relatively old and mature program. Of course, it is still updated regularly (the latest version supports also Windows 10), so you won’t have to worry about this.
This program was written in AutoIT for windows, and it is designed to map out the access points around you based on wireless and GPS data, visualizing it onto a map for your convenience.
While this might be more helpful for people who need to find access points rather than troubleshoot their WiFi connections, there is no denying that it can be an incredibly useful program for many people, plus it is completely free.
One of the things that Solarwinds WiFi Analyzer prides itself on is that it can quickly detect and resolve any WiFi issues that you might be having without you needing to stress over it.
In fact, it boasts a customizable dashboard, allowing you to pick and choose which settings are the most important to you.
You can also monitor other wireless networks, check their parameters (such as security settings, channels etc) and manage them in a business setting, making it another program better suited for business use, rather than home use.
This program offers a free trial for 30 days before you need to consider paying money for it, so there is plenty of time to see how useful it can be.
The specific WiFi Network Analyzer is a module of the well-known and mature Network Performance Monitor (NPM) tool from Solarwinds which is one of the most popular Network Management applications out there.
The disadvantage of this tool is that you have to pay for it after the initial 30-day trial.
This is another free app in our list. Nirsoft WifiInfoView works on both Mac. and Windows OS (from Windows Vista up to Win 10).
This program can provide information about the wireless networks in your area, including the network name (SSID), the MAC address, the PHY type, RSSI, and so on, providing you with ample information about the wireless networks in your area.
What I like about this free little utility is that it is lightweight and also displays information about the brand of each WiFi router in your area.
Similar to Solarwinds above, PRTG is another commercial tool that is mostly suited for professional use in business environments.
PRTG has several functions that you might find useful if you are trying to keep an eye on the network you are responsible to operate and manage.
For instance, you can monitor your devices status, seeing both the up and downtime that it has so that you can determine if your WiFi connectivity is available.
It can also inform you about the network load and when it is getting too high, so that you can make sure you aren’t downloading anything important when the network is strained.
Another thing that PRTG can offer is showing how much traffic goes through both your regular network and your wireless one.
As the clever name of this product might suggest, this program gives you visibility in your surrounding WiFi environment.
You will be able to learn information about the network you are connected to, choose the right channel for your needs, and even monitor user traffic data.
This program is updated regularly, so you won’t have to worry too much about anything going wrong because of an out-of-date issue, which is something that many people can appreciate.
The tool is mostly useful in SMB (Small to Medium Business) networks and many professionals that install and sell wifi products and services have found this tool very helpful in their job.
Note that there is a small subscription price to use this tool.
This is another program that is offered on the Microsoft store, so you can generally expect it to be a reasonably reputable program.
With over one million installs on a variety of platforms, WiFi Analyzer and Scanner will assist you with finding the best place to get a WiFi signal, giving you a graphed form of the signal strength, and it even recommends the best channel for you to use.
There have been some reported issues with some versions of Windows 10 and this app, so you should be wary of that. Aside from this, this particular app is well-liked and very versatile.
WiFi Commander is designed specifically with Windows 10 in mind, so if you are using that as your primary operating system, then you might find that this app has everything you need in it.
It provides a 3D analysis of channel distributions, allows you to scan for any networks, provides real-time monitoring, and so on.
This program is incredibly well-rounded, and it doesn’t have any ads in it, which is something that most users can appreciate. Instead, you will be able to focus on getting the most out of your WiFi.
The most impressive characteristic of this app is its polished and 3D graphical interface which offers great user experience. Other than that, it includes all important scanning and analysis features of the other apps in our list here.
You can download the app from the Windows store which costs $4.99.
WiFi Scanner by AccessAgility specializes in letting you compare surrounding networks and channels around you so that you can find the one that best suits your own network.
It will also provide information that you might need if you are trying to troubleshoot a network issue, meaning that it is wonderful for trying to problem solve a situation.
You can filter and sort the neighboring networks as you please, while you also have the ability to visualize the conflicts that some signal interferences might cause.
What I like about this app is that you can save and import each scan session so that you have a history of the environment over time. Very useful to compare changes in the wireless spectrum over a period of time.
The app can be purchased for just $14.99.