The school where my husband and I work as the computer administration team has many hundreds of Macs, Windows PCs, Chromebooks, and iPad. And around 100 Wi-Fi access points scattered around a few dozen buildings. Wi-Fi means trouble.
The very nature of Wi-Fi means the wireless network can have weak spots, hotspots, and signal clashes with other nearby networks. When something isn’t working right and your computer or tablet isn’t getting a good signal, it’s time to do some troubleshooting. Here’s a tool that can end the trouble.
Fine Wi-Fi Analysis
With so many devices connected to so many Wi-Fi access points is so many buildings we’ve gathered a few tools to help us troubleshoot weak spots. The latest is Wifiner, a Mac Wi-Fi utility that lets you do a complete site survey, draw up appropriate analysis, and with a Mac notebook in hand, troubleshoot the troublesome.
Wifiner is something of a newcomer to this segment of Wi-Fi tools but focuses on the basics which include an easy way to visualize local network coverage with enough tools to identify connectivity issues; whether in a home, small office, large office, or, as in our case, multiple buildings. The feature I prefer is the option to measure Wi-Fi coverage and network speed at the same time, which, of course, saves time as you tweak the network access points.
The first step is to measure your network or locations current Wi-Fi. For this you’ll get some exercise as it requires you to setup and load an area map, indicate each location on the map, then walk around in a zigzag patter from wall to wall. Wifiner tracks the signal as you move from location to location. Along the way you can test upload and download speeds.
Every project can be saved and used again but once you’ve done the walk through coverage Wifiner builds a heat map so you can see hot spots– literally– and weak areas.
How easy is this?
Wi-Fi signals can be dampened by a number of factors, including wall material, nearby noise sources, and channel conflicts. Wifiner identifies the locations with weaker or conflicting signals. The visual heat maps come in nearly a dozen types which let you know instantly whether an access point is optimally placed or could be moved for improved reception. Dead or weak zones are easily identified.
Wifiner is published by the same developers who brought NetSpot to Mac users so there is some pedigree in the background.
What’s missing in Wifiner is what you get with NetSpot Free. Free. Wifiner isn’t expensive, but there is not a try-before-you-buy version.