Scanning, surveying, and fixing Wi-Fi problems on an office network can be an exercise in futility. Unless you have the right tools. A MacBook Air is good to start. So is the free NetSpot Wi-Fi survey and wireless scanner tool.
Map Signals, Manage Wireless
Wireless networks are everywhere these days, and if you’re a cubicle dweller like I am about half the time, Wi-Fi networks are easy to find, but usually come with a hiccup or two. Or three. Or more.
NetSpot is more than the typical Wi-Fi scanner app. It comes with site survey components, and gives you a few tools to perform a network analysis.
Analysis? Sure. Every Wi-Fi network runs on either or both 2.4GHz and 5GHz channel bands and performance is subject to a variety of conditions.
Multiple networks can cause channel conflicts. Construction can impede signals in some locations, causing poor network performance.
NetSpot on your Mac grabs all the nearby networks and gives you a visual representation of what’s what and where. It detects the networks and can map out signal strength with the network mapper.
Built-in components measure Wi-Fi signal strength and grabs data you’ll need to determine network performance.
You’ll see network name, AP name, MAC address, vendor, channel, encryption type, signal levels, signal-to-noise ration, channel conflicts, and more, especially if you have a floor layout of your office or building.
The heat map visualization graphic is to die for. This is the first networking tool that’s actually fun to use. And it’s free.
NetSpot’s free version has some limitations. It’s non-commercial only, and provides only one zone per project, and a single snapshot per zone, but you can have up to 50 data points per project. Visualizations are limited to SNR and NIR. The Pro version is a bit pricey for the home or small office user, but excellent for network administrators or anyone who manages multiple Wi-Fi networks.
That makes the free NetSpot app perfect for home Wi-Fi networks, but it’s a good try-before-you-buy for office networks. There’s no better way that I know of to setup a new Wi-Fi network, either. As I said, the visualization graphics are to die for.