Fine Tune Your Wireless Network with WiFi Analyzer

Many people don’t realize that you can actually fine tune your WiFi access points with some very simple tricks like rotating that base unit around or changing the station numbers. The problem is always figuring out what settings are having a positive or negative effect. To a (very) small extent you could do this with a laptop and try to see if the number of bars is changing as you make adjustments but if you are anything like me, you want raw numbers to make sure you are squeezing every ounce of performance out of your network. Using a tool like WiFi Analyzer, we can get this data and use it to our advantage.

wifi_analyzer_1

What all can it do?

Wifi Analyzer consists of five different screens that you can easily flip through. The initial screen (shown above) shows a graph of the available access points with their relative signal strength and Wifi channels being used. With this screen you can quick see available hotspots and which ones do not require security keys. The main screen is a good overview of the available networks but sometimes we want a little more precise data.

Signal Meter Screen

wifi_analyzer_2The Signal Meter screen shows a more real-time view of a single access point with a floating needle (and sound) to let you know the strength of your selected access point. With the Signal Meter screen you can enable the sound and then place your Android device where you will want to be using your wireless device (laptop, phone, etc) and then you can even be in another room trying different antenna directions, rotating the base, trying different heights, etc and you will be able to hear from the tones if your adjustments are making any difference to the signal where your device is.

Keep in mind that while you may be optimizing the signal for one location in the house, you may be making it worse for a different location. When it comes to getting the most signal strength for a particular access point to a specific location, the signal meter screen really helps.

Access Point List

wifi_analyzer_3 The Access Point List is a fairly simple list of the available access points along with some basic information on each one, this information includes:

  • SSID
  • MAC Address
  • Frequency
  • Signal Strength
  • Channel ID
  • Security information

At the top of this screen you can see which access point, if any, that you are currently connected to.

The Menu key will allow you to sort the available AP’s in several different ways as well as take a snapshot of the current list and save it as a file to memory.

Channel Rating List

wifi_analyzer_4 The channel rating list will show you a rating of the available channels and suggest some better channel choices for your selected access point.

Using this tool you can avoid conflicts with neighboring AP’s which will make your AP more reliable, more stable, and provide a better connection (all of which result in faster throughput).

Setting a good channel is the first step when tuning your wireless network as getting as far away from neighboring AP’s is always a good idea and since virtually all AP’s and wireless routers all come on basically the same channel, its usually pretty simple to find a channel that is more open than the default.

On this screen, the Menu key will allow you to select a different AP, Forget the current AP, Sort the available channels by channel number or by rating, and create a snapshot of the current screen.

Time Graph

wifi_analyzer_5 I don’t find the time graph screen to be overly useful to me but it could come in really handy if you are getting intermittent drop outs and need to monitor the wireless signal over a short period of time. For basic wireless tuning, I don’t see using this screen very much, if at all.

The Menu options include a filter to only monitor only the AP’s that you want and eliminate the extra ones from the screen.

Where Do I Get It?

The Wifi Analyzer is available for free from the Android Market or you can rate & download: Wifi Analyzer

  • http://www.fam5.com Admiral70

    Great post, immediately upon installing and running this program is was so obvious why my wireless network was not running that great. A neighbor installed a new access point and was on the same channel as my network.

    I have also used it to determine that except for a 2 mile stretch I have an open network between my house and the nearest Starbucks.

    Great stuff.

  • http://mydroidlife.com Kerry

    Thanks, yeah it is a very handy utility, very useful for figuring out your exact problem there.
    -Kerry

  • http://codetrips.blogspot.com Marco Massenzio

    This is an excellent application.
    Great UI and immediately payback with finding a better channel to use!

    Highly recommended.