What is the Best WiFi Analyzer and How to Use One on a Mac
The benefits of a WiFi network come with certain complications that revolve around the implementation, security, and maintenance of the network. The flexibility and utility of a WiFi network can be very dependent on the positioning of your router, the channel that you choose to use for data transmission, and the ability of the signal to reach all intended users. In order to keep your WiFi network operating at peak efficiency, the use of tools such as a WiFi signal analyzer can be extremely beneficial.
What is a WiFi Analyzer?
A Wifi analyzer is a specific type of network analyzer that is designed to work with wireless networks. They can be obtained as an application which runs on a computer or a mobile device as well as in hardware implementations that are usually used by dedicated network engineers. A WiFi analyzer can be used in conjunction with your firewall and security programs to assist in tuning your network so it attains optimal performance.
Some of the uses of a network or WiFi analyzer are to:
- Provide statistics for recent and current network usage.
- Detect bottlenecks in network traffic such as overused channels.
- Identify dead spots in your WiFi network’s coverage.
- Assist in determining the best location for your wireless router.
- Monitor network traffic and the flow of data packets.
- Display network statistics in a user-friendly interface.
How a WiFi Analyzer App Can Help Improve Your WiFi
A variety of issues can cause problems for the users of a WiFi network. Among them are:
- The unreliability of WiFi connections. If you are getting blown off the network with any regularity it could be the sign of an underlying network problem.
- Slow data transmission.
- Uneven WiFi coverage leading to seemingly inexplicable dead spots that pop up throughout the covered area.
- WiFi signal leakage that can cause security issues by allowing individuals to access your network from outside your home or office.
Let’s look at how a WiFi analyzer for your Mac can help alleviate or at least minimize these issues.
Unreliable Connections and Dead Spots
Properly positioning your WiFi router is an essential component in enabling it to provide the best coverage of your intended area of usage. It should be in a central location and be situated where it is free from obstructions. Putting your router in a cabinet can definitely have a negative impact on its ability to serve all of your users.
Using a WiFi analyzer you can display a map of your network and determine where dead spots or obstructed connectivity is impacting the network’s performance. Analyzing the data provided by the tool can be instrumental in allowing you to reposition your router to achieve better results. Your chance of improving your WiFi coverage is far greater when using an analyzer application than blindly moving your router around.
WiFi Signal Leakage
Signal leakage can be a major problem for both businesses and home users. Nefarious individuals can attempt to break into your network from outside your building, making it difficult or impossible to identify the attackers until they have gained access to your network.
A WiFi analyzer can be useful in tuning your router in an attempt to keep the signal within accepted boundaries. It can also help you identify unauthorized efforts to access the network.
Slow Data Transmission
This issue can also be combined with dropped connections and can often be the result of using a busy WiFi channel for data transmission. Many users simply go with their router’s default channel. In areas such as apartment buildings, where the signal from several routers can overlap, this can cause network traffic jams that slow down your access and can cause a connection to fail.
A WiFi analyzer can help you identify the channels that are in use and enable you to find a less-used one for your network. Once you determine the channel you want to use, you can update your router’s configuration to take advantage of the information returned by the analyzer. Again, you could do this with trial and error, but using an analyzer is a much more efficient way to go.
Choosing a WiFi Analyzer
There are a couple of factors that might influence your choice of a WiFi analyzer. Obviously, the platform you will run the app on is important. You need an app that supports the operating system you are using.
You can obtain WiFi analyzers that are freeware and do not require any financial investment. There are also commercial products available. In some case, they may have additional features not found in the free offerings.
Analyzing Your WiFi with KisMAC
Let’s look at how to analyze your WiFi using the KisMAC WiFi analysis application. It is one of the best free WiFi analyzers for the Mac, but you may have issues using it due to the restriction on the network cards that it supports. It is a freeware tool that is intended for experienced users. You can use the tool to draw maps of network coverage to help you find better positioning and identify dead spots. It displays all network activity in range and allows you to see which channels are heavily used so you can pick one for your network.
The Best WiFi Analyzers for macOS
Here are some alternative WiFi analyzers for the Mac that you may find helpful in troubleshooting or optimizing your WiFi network.
NetSpot is a great WiFi signal analyzer that is available as a free download to allow you to test-drive the application before upgrading. The app displays the network information in a user-friendly interface and provides all of the details that you need to get your WiFi running at peak efficiency.
“The easiest part about NetSpot, is everything about it. The verdict we have settled on comes after years of using subpar Wi-Fi analyzer tools that either offered a decent user interface, or the top features – but never both of those things. We can confidently conclude there isn’t a competitor that puts user experience on the front foot like NetSpot does, without holding anything back in terms of performance.” NetSpot Review at thesweetbits.com
Upgrading to the paid version allows you to conduct surveys and draw maps of your WiFi network, making it a great tool to use when planning and installing WiFi.
Here is another WiFI analyzer that presents its data in an intuitive user-interface. A free light version is available, with paid versions providing more features. It can help you find the best channel for your network to use and has enhanced capabilities such as spectrum analysis in the Pro version. This can help you eliminate sources of interference that are impacting your WiFi network.
This tool for the Mac provides detailed graphical representations of nearby WiFi networks. Advanced features such as filtering and the ability to show signal level changes over time make this a great tool for analyzing your network. You can connect to detected networks with the click of a button if you are authorized or if they are not password protected.
MacOS WiFi Analyzer
Holding down the option key on your Mac’s keyboard while clicking on the WiFi icon in the menu bar will give you the option to “Open Wireless Diagnostics” and scan all available wireless networks. This tool is part of the macOS operating system and may be just what you need to find the best channel for you to use.
We hope that this discussion of WiFi analyzers has pointed out some ways that this type of tool can help you improve your WiFi network at home or at the office. If you are experiencing any issues with your WiFi network, one of the tools mentioned above can assist in resolving your difficulties.