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Securing Your Home Wi-Fi Network and a List of 21 Best Wi-Fi Analyzers That Can Speed Up Your Slow Wi-Fi Network

Published: June 17, 2021 By Rakesh Naik

Making Home Wi-Fi Secure and 21 Best Wi-Fi Analyzers to Optimise Your Wi-Fi

Did you just buy a new Wi-Fi router? Worried it might be attacked? Or has your Wi-Fi become really slow and is now frustrating you?

You’re in luck!

In our article, we have collected and in-deep tested 17 most reliable Wi-Fi analyzers for June 2021. I will be discussing om how you can secure your home Wi-Fi network and how you can speed up your Wi-Fi too!

Let’s explore the world of Wi-Fi, learn how to keep your home Wi-Fi secure and finally look at Wi-Fi Analyzers, that help in improving your Wi-Fi experience!

 

The Information age, starting in the mid to late 1900s, has seen a rapid growth of information technology and services. This also caused the IT boom and the development of the internet, making such services available to common man and just not the big corporates.

Access to the internet has also undergone a lot of changes; kids no more have to ask their mom to get off the phone so that they could send an IM to their friend online or finish downloading a picture of Anna Kournikova. (Reference to an early phishing attack)

With its popularity, the internet has expanded to almost every household with its own router to connect to the internet. As time passed, these devices started becoming wireless and you no longer had to place a router right beside your computer.

Eventually, even mobile devices were capable of internet access using data and could even connect to internet through your router. Apple, with their new iPhone, took this to the next level, starting the smartphone revolution.

Wireless internet connections became popular and anyone with internet at home switched to the latest wireless router which came to be know as “Wi-Fi”. Wi-Fi allowed everyone in a house to be able to use the internet without having to sit down at the computer.

Image Showing Wi-Fi being Very Common and Existing Everywhere

Image Source – pandasecurity.com

A Wi-Fi connection is basically a wireless network protocol allowing compatible devices to connect to a large wireless network though certain access points available in the network. In simple terms, Wi-Fi is wireless technology that allows a device to connect to the internet, without using any connecting wires.

Please note that a Wi-Fi connection need not always only refer to an internet connection but can also include internal connections in corporate networks.

While there are quite a few differences between home Wi-Fi networks when compared to corporate ones, we shan’t be exploring them here. In this article we shall be discussing about the security of your home Wi-Fi as well as how to improve your Wi-Fi connection.


Is Your Home Wi-Fi Secure?

The most basic device you would require while setting up a home Wi-Fi network is a wireless router. It is responsible for handling all connected devices and serves as the main access point to the internet. So, as long as your router is safe, your Wi-Fi network will be safe.

Routers are one of most likely reason for many previous biggest security breaches on corporate networks. Because of any WLAN device works according to existing standards, security researchers are working non-stop on developing new ways to penetrate inherit security functions of Wi-Fi protocols.

Image Portraying a Secure Wi-Fi network

Image Source – privateinternetaccess.com

The manufacturer of a router will install a number of security features on it to protect all wireless connections and the router itself. These, used properly are more than enough to defend against potential threats to the router and the Wi-Fi network.

Various threats that could exist to your Wi-Fi network are as follows:

  1. Password Cracking
  2. Brute Force Attacks
  3. DOS Attacks
  4. Man in the Middle Attacks
  5. Wardriving
  6. Packet Sniffing
  7. Malware Attacks

An Image Showing a Man in the Middle Attack

Image Source – thesslstore.com

While it is not important for you to understand what all the above attacks do, it is important for you to prevent potential attacks. In the next session, we will see just how.


Protecting Your Home Wi-Fi from Any Attacks?

Cartoon of an Attacker Stealing Information from Computer

Image Source – blogs.manageengine

If you are worried about your home Wi-Fi after reading the previous section, I would say that you are right to be worried! You should be especially worried if you never changed your Wi-Fi password even after the manufacturer asked you to do so in the user manual!

But don’t worry, help is here! In this section, we explore how you can secure your Wi-Fi network from an attacker by adopting a few simple security practices.

1. Use Strong and Secure Password

Password Protected PC

Image Source – wpwhitesecurity.com

A password is the be all and end all of security in any scenario; from your online accounts to your home Wi-Fi. A password protects almost all of your day-to-day life and assets. So, if a password is compromised, it could potentially cause serious damage to your daily life.

A leaked Wi-Fi password allows unauthorised users to gain access to the router, and even devices connected to it. The attacker can then move on to gather sensitive information from individual devices which are then used for the attacker’s personal benefits.

Users are asked to always use strong passwords while for their Wi-Fi and under no circumstances should the Wi-Fi be open. There are quite a lot of rules and practices, that a user can follow for creating a strong and secure password.

A few rules to follow while creating passwords are below:

  • Have at least 10-12 characters
  • Include uppercase and lowercase alphabets
  • Include numbers as well as special characters
  • Don’t use any personal information or references to personal interests
  • Regularly change the password to a new one

2. Make Your SSID Hidden

An SSID is the name of your wireless network that is used while connecting to it. Your SSID can be viewed by anyone with a Wi-Fi adapter, in the vicinity of your network. This means that, anyone in the vicinity of an open Wi-Fi network can connect to it using their Wi-Fi enabled devices.

When your SSID can be viewed by anyone in the vicinity with a Wi-Fi adapter, it also becomes susceptible to a myriad of wireless attacks. So, it is a safe security practice to keep your SSID hidden so that no one will be able to view it. Most modern routers allow user to hide their network SSIDs.

Hiding Network SSID Using the Network Admin Page of Huawei Router

Image Source – consumer.huawei.com

The ‘Hide SSID’ setting can be found under the Wi-Fi security section of the router’s admin settings. To access the admin settings, simply open a web browser, type in 192.168.0.1 in the address bar and hit enter.

3. Use a Secure Network Admin Password

A network admin password is used to access the admin settings of your router. Without this, you will not be able to make any changes to the default settings of your router. The manufacturers of routers usually set the username and password of the admin page as ‘admin’ or ‘abc123’ or sometimes even the name of the router model.

Changing the Network Admin Password in a D-Link Router

Image Source – “D-Link Tutorial” YouTube Channels

Attackers usually try such common and default router passwords and in case it hasn’t been changed, will gain admin level access to the network. From here, they can make a lot of changes to the network and even monitor individual devices connected on the network.

To change this password, simply go to the administrator settings section of your router admin settings, and change the password from there. You can even change the username for the admin login here.

4. Activate Network Encryption

Packet sniffing attack, is a form of attack that captures your network data packets and analyses them to gain any information. This is especially effective if your network has no encryption protocols in place and all data sent and received by devices is unencrypted.

This means that an attacker simply has to capture packets transmitted in the user’s network in order to view all information being sent and received.

Network Encryption Standard available on a ZTE router

These days, almost all routers come with a network encryption feature pre-installed, and a user simply needs to activate it. When turned on, the router will encrypt all data packets in the network making decoding them by packet sniffing near impossible.

It is recommended that users turn on network encryption as soon as the router is installed. This setting can be also found under security section of the router admin settings page.

5. Use Antimalware Software

Malware is the most widespread tool used by hackers to attack wireless networks. If an attacker has access to your router, they simply have to install a malware to it which can be spread to all devices connected to the network.

Attackers can use malware to either gain intel on the target (spyware) or to demand money from the target (ransomware) and many more such harmful objectives. For more details about malware and how it works.

Full System Scan using Bitdefender Antivirus

The most effective method of avoiding a malware attack is by simply installing an antimalware tool on your systems connected to the internet, that periodically scans for malware. You can also install a firewall on your router which can prevent any malware to be installed on it.

These days, some antimalware software allows users to scan entire networks which would be quite useful in such a scenario. To learn more about malware and can affect you, read our article ‘How Malware Works

6. Turn Off Your Wi-Fi when You’re Not Home

An attacker can’t attack your Wi-Fi if your router is turned off. This is always a good habit to adopt whenever you’re not home. By simply switching off the Wi-Fi router when you are off on a holiday prevents a lot of potential attacks on the network.

Switching off the Wi-Fi Router by Unplugging the power cable

Image Source – edu.gcfglobal.org

Sometimes, attackers might wait to start their attack until a house is empty so as to improve their chances of not being detected. You can always turn it back on once you are back home and need to use it.

However, it is not advised to do this in case you have a CCTV or other similar security systems installed which can be monitored remotely by you or a security company. In such cases it is better to keep your Wi-Fi hidden and secured with a strong password.

7. Place the Router at a Well Thought Out Position

This is a very often overlooked security measure when it comes to installing a Wi-Fi network. Attackers, can sometimes gain access to your home Wi-Fi network without actually stepping foot in your home if your router is placed in such a way that its coverage extends beyond the walls of your house.

Such a scenario makes a user highly unaware of any wireless attacks being mounted while they are not home or even when they are involved in doing some other activity. So, to avoid such a vulnerability, care as to be taken with a Wi-Fi network even before its installation.

Placing a Wi-Fi Router in a Central Location at Home

Image Source – pinterest.com

A user can simply find the absolute centre of the house and place the router there to avoid any external coverage. After installation, as an extra security measure, they can use a Wi-Fi signal meter to check whether the Wi-Fi can be detected outside the house boundaries. A router with shorter range only to cover the boundaries could also be purchased for the same.

The aforementioned security measures should greatly improve the security of your home Wi-Fi and keep it safe from malicious attacks. There are many more security practices that can be used to make your home Wi-Fi more secure. If you know of any such security measures, please comment below and let us know!

If you want to learn how you can further protect your computer against potential threats, read our article entitled ‘5 Easy Steps to Protect Your Computer in Under 1 Week’ that literally teaches you what it claims. In one week, your PC will be more secure than it was before.

However, malicious attacks aren’t the only problem that your Wi-Fi network will have to face. As the Wi-Fi technology has boomed, the availability of wireless networks has also gone up with every household having its own Wi-Fi network.

The issue with this increase is that with Wi-Fi being everywhere, network traffic as well as signal interference also increases. This in turn results in a drop of connection quality, slow performance, and even dropped connections.

We look at the main one of the main tools, that deal with such issues on the Wi-Fi networks, called Wi-Fi Analyzers. A Wi-Fi analyzer is a device capable of analysing a wireless network and gathering relevant information about it which allows optimisation of the network as well as improving its speed. Wi-Fi analyzers can also be used to detect and troubleshoot any issues on the wireless networks.


Wi-Fi Analyzers & What They Do                            

An Unboxed Hak5 Wi-Fi Pineapple Analyzer

Image Source – hak5.org

A Wi-Fi analyzer is a software program or a hardware device that allows the user to gather a variety of useful information relating to the Wi-Fi network that it is connected to and tweaking a few settings. Usually, the analyzers scan the various access points & channels in the network to gather said data.

Put simply, a Wi-Fi analyzer helps a user improve the performance of a given Wi-Fi network by changing a few settings on it. The analyzer can help the user troubleshoot any network issues, reduce network traffic, ensure best connection quality and more.

The user of a Wi-Fi analyzer maybe a network professional diagnosing a wireless network, or even a simple user trying to optimise their home Wi-Fi. These analyzers are very easily available on the market allowing everyone to monitor and improve their own Wi-Fi networks.

There are two types of Wi-Fi analyzers, namely – Hardware analyzers, and Software analyzers. The difference between the two is as follows:

Hardware Wi-Fi Analyzers

These are hardware devices made with the sole objective of diagnosing and troubleshooting a Wi-Fi network. These are primarily used by professional network administrators, or even security professionals such as penetration testers to gather important information from a wireless network.

HSA-Q1 – Handheld RF Spectrum Analyzer

Image Source – ozspy.com.au

Hardware Wi-Fi analyzers are usually equipped with directional antennas externally that are able to detect wireless networks from a couple of meters away up to tens of meters away, for the more expensive ones. While most hardware analyzers do need a computer device to be able to function and display data on, some analyzers are quite self-reliant with their own displays and processors.

These are however priced at a couple hundred US Dollars ranging up into the thousands for the really for the more advanced ones. The price of these analyzers is why they are mostly used in a corporate scenario.

Software Wi-Fi Analyzers

Software Wi-Fi analyzers are programs that aim to perform the same functions as their hardware counterpart. Contrary to the hardware analyzers, these Wi-Fi analyzers are mostly used by small businesses and home users who don’t want to or can’t afford to spend a whole lot of money for hardware Wi-Fi analyzers.

Software Wi-Fi Analyzer Displaying Wi-Fi signals using Graphs

Image Source –tamos.com

The benefit of these analyzers, besides being relatively cheap, is that they can virtually run on any device making it highly portable. They can easily be run using a smartphone or tablet making it possible to carry it with much more ease. However, their efficiency will be much lower than a hardware analyzer which is to be expected given the cheaper price.

A software Wi-Fi analyzer is, at the end of the day, affordable to a basic user, easy to use, and the data they provide is good enough for the low-end users.


Choosing the Right Wi-Fi Analyzer?

With the wide variety of Wi-Fi analyzers available in the market, it might sometimes be a bit difficult to pick one suited for your needs and requirements. Some of these are free-to-use while some others would easily set you back a couple thousand dollars.

It is not important to make educated decisions while choosing a free Wi-Fi analyzer, you could always try the next one if the former doesn’t work out. But this luxury is not quite affordable in the case of a paid Wi-Fi analyzer, and lots of research needs to go in before making the purchase.

Wi-Fi Network Data Gathered by an Android Wi-Fi Analyzer

Image Source –bestforandroid.com

Listed below are a few points to keep in mind while making a purchase of such paid Wi-Fi Analyzers be it a software Wi-Fi analyzer or the pricier hardware counterpart.

  1. Network Data Collection – The most basic use of a Wi-Fi analyzer is to collect important information pertaining to the network in question. If the quality or accuracy of the data collected by the Wi-Fi analyzer is not up to the mark, it is pretty much useless. Various data points of the information gathered are:
    • Network Name – Name of the wireless network being analysed, might also include MAC address details
    • Nearby Access Points – Access points that allow connection to the wireless networks
    • Signal Strength – Strength of the wireless network signal at any given location around it
    • Wi-Fi Band and Channels – All supported channels/bands through which data communication can take place
    • Wi-Fi Standard – The specific Wi-Fi standard running on the network
    • Security Settings – Any passwords or other security features set to protect the wireless network
    • Channel Traffic Details – Traffic information of individual Wi-Fi channels
  2. Portability – While the portability might not be an issue for someone using a Wi-Fi analyzer for home networks, it is a very important aspect when we step into the corporate world. A professional may require to travel from one location to another to diagnose, troubleshoot or even test a network. Lugging around a large device for Wi-Fi analysis might not be feasible. Therefore, opting for a hardware device compatible with laptops, tablets, or even smartphones is advised. Even a good software analyzer would come in handy in such scenarios.
  3. User Interface – This feature determines the simplicity with which network data is presented to a user. The best way to judge the user interface of a Wi-Fi analyzer would be to see how easily a basic user can find relevant data from the analyzer. While user interface might seem like it isn’t very important in the hands of a professional, if data isn’t presented properly, it will cause quite a lot of trouble.
  4. Radius of Coverage – The range of a Wi-Fi analyzer can’t be more than a few tens of meters; it can determine the proximity of a network tester to the actual physical location of the network. This is a feature that is more interesting to security testers than a in house network engineer. Range of a software Wi-Fi analyzer might be limited to the hardware of the device running the software, while that of a hardware analyzer depends on the antennas attached to it.

Top 21 Wi-Fi Analyzers in the Market

  1. SolarWinds Wi-Fi Analyzer
  2. Paessler PRTG
  3. NetSpot
  4. Wireshark
  5. Ekahau HeatMapper
  6. Acrylic Wi-Fi
  7. InSSIDer
  8. NetCut
  9. Microsoft Wi-Fi Analyzer
  10. AirMagnet Wi-Fi Analyzer Pro
  11. Wi-Fi Explorer
  12. Kismet
  13. Vistumbler
  14. Wi-Fi Commander
  15. NetSpot for Android
  16. WiFiman
  17. OpenSignal
  18. Wi-Fi Analyzer
  19. IP Tools: Wi-Fi Analyzer
  20. Sparrow-Wi-Fi Analyzer
  21. Network Analyzer

To meet the increasing demand of Wi-FI analyzers, due to the higher frequency of networks, they have become readily available at a varying price range, making it affordable to even basic home users. The availability of Software Wi-Fi Analyzers has also helped this problem by being priced much cheaper or even free for home users.

As software Wi-Fi analyzers are more common with it being the more affordable one, we shall be looking only at them in this article. Below is a list of 21 Software Wi-Fi Analyzers currently available in the market that I think are the best choice for home users as well as small businesses:

1. SolarWinds Wi-Fi Analyzer

SolarWinds Wi-Fi Analyzer GUI Displaying Various Graphs for Network Data

Image Source – solarwinds.com

The SolarWinds Wi-Fi Analyzer, comes with an addon known as the Network Performance Monitor which can be used to perform an in-depth analysis of a Wi-Fi network. Personally, this is the best tool in the market, with its wide array of functionalities and proactive analysis features.

Key features include:

  1. Monitor and manage Wi-Fi networks
  2. Key features of the SolarWinds Wi-Fi Analyzer are:
  3. Allows troubleshooting through a customisable dashboard
  4. Can create custom colour-coded heatmaps* of the network to enable easy understanding
  5. Accelerated troubleshooting
  6. Supports auto-discovery and tracking for new devices in the network

*A heatmap is basically a visual representation of the Wi-Fi signal coverage with colour coding for signal strength in each area.

The SolarWinds Wi-Fi Analyzer is basically built for a corporate scenario, so while it might not be a good choice for home users, it is quite good for small scale businesses. You can download a free 30-day trial to find out whether it suits your requirements.

2. Paessler PRTG

Paessler PRTG Wi-Fi Analyzer GUI Displaying Various Graphs for Network Data

Image Source – paessler.com

The Paessler PRTG networking monitoring tool can analyze virtually all devices connected to the Wi-Fi network. It has a user-friendly GUI that makes reading and interpreting the data collected easy using real-time data graphs.

Key features of the Paessler PRTG tool are as listed below:

  1. Measures traffic volumes on the Wi-Fi network
  2. Offers an array of sensors, each to monitor a different component of the network
  3. Warning system for potential failures
  4. Data representation in graphs form, based on live data
  5. Automatically detects newly connected network devices and begins monitoring them

The tool comes in 5 different versions with their own specifications and features. It also offers a 30-0day free trial for users after which, it reverts to a PRTG free tool. Different versions of the Paessler PRTG tool are listed below:

  • PRTG Network Monitor
  • PRTG Enterprise Monitor
  • PRTG Hosted Monitor
  • PRTG Desktop
  • PRTG Apps

Again, this is more of a professional software but is quite usable by regular users as well with a bit of network knowledge.

3. NetSpot

NetSpot Wi-Fi Analyzer Heatmap for a Wireless Network Site

Image Source –netspotapp.com

The standout feature of the NetSpot Wi-Fi analyzer tool is that it allows wireless site surveys, analysis and troubleshooting. A site survey determines the feasibility of establishing a wireless network in the area with enough access points and minimum traffic congestion. The Netspot tool has a particular colour coded heatmap feature that allows in accurate results in a site survey.

Key features of the NetSpot Wi-Fi Analyzer are as listed below:

  1. Detects any interference in the wireless network
  2. Allows analysis of Wi-Fi coverage through colour-coded heatmaps
  3. Allows site surveys before deployment of the wireless network
  4. Runs on both Windows and MacOS

The tool offers 4 different editions, namely – Free, Home, Pro, and Enterprise. The Enterprise edition is the most expensive with the best features.

Home users can use the free edition for their requirements. This tool would be quite helpful in deciding a proper position for the network router so that no one can connect to the Wi-Fi by simply standing outside your house.

4. Wireshark

Data Packets Collected by the Wireshark Wi-Fi Analyzer

Image Source – wireshark.org

Yes, I know that Wireshark is mainly a packet sniffer and analysis tool, but it can be used as a powerful Wi-Fi analysis tool as well.

Wireshark is a free-to-use tool available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux that can be used by professionals as well as home users. Wireshark also supports live data capture that allows viewing network connections at real-time and diagnosing connectivity issues.

Key features offered by Wireshark are listed below:

  1. Live data capture and offline analysis
  2. Can run on almost all systems due to it being very lightweight
  3. Runs on Windows, MacOS as well as Linux
  4. Output can be exported to XML, CSV, PostScript, or plain text
  5. Most powerful display filters

Being absolutely free, even home users can use Wireshark for home networks. But the one issue that they would have to tackle is the learning curve. Its not an easy plug-and-play sort of tool, but needs extensive knowledge in networking. It even represents data in lines of text which would look like gibberish to the untrained eye.

5. Ekahau HeatMapper

Heatmap of a Site using Ekahau Heatmapper Wi-Fi Analyzer

Image Source – ekahau.com

The Ekahau HeatMapper is Wi-Fi analyzer tool that can perform wireless network analysis, and optimisation. This heatmaps in this tool are of high quality, in fact they are the best heatmaps among all such tools. It also offers survey tools besides the normal Wi-Fi analyzer tool, that can perform a site surveys before deploying the wireless network.

The main features of the Ekahau HeatMapper are as follows:

  1. Network visualisation through heatmaps
  2. Best heatmaps in the market
  3. Allows unique network designs as per requirements
  4. Offers a plug-and-play diagnostic device – Ekahau Sidekick
  5. Collaborate work with remote teams over cloud servers
  6. Offers functionality to perform site surveys for a wireless network

The Ekahau HeatMapper offers 6 different versions of the tool for analysis of a Wi-Fi network, namely – Pro, Survey, Analyzer, Capture, Cloud, and Sidekick.

The Ekahau Sidekick is an interesting device provided by the Ekahau HeatMapper. It is a simple plug-and-play device that can be directly connected to a wireless network to automatically analyze the network. It is extremely useful for professionals on the go.

6. Acrylic Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi Analyzer Results from Acrylic Wi-Fi Analyzer

Image Source – acrylicwifi.com

The Acrylic Wi-Fi tool is a free-to-use Wi-Fi analyzer, that allows users to view all Wi-Fi network data in the form of tables. The various datapoints for analysis are MAC address, SSID, channels, vendors etc. It also has a Wi-Fi Sniffer that can run in monitor mode and allows users to discover hidden networks.

It Can also generate heatmaps, allowing users to perform site surveys to test the coverage of the network or to deploy a wireless network efficiently. Key features of the Acrylic Wi-Fi Analyzer are:

  1. Works in 2.4GHz as well as 5GHz Wi-Fi channels
  2. Allows generation of heatmaps for site surveys
  3. Allows tabulated view for gathered information
  4. Works well in networks with multiple routers
  5. Wi-Fi Sniffer that allows discovery of hidden networks

Again, being free-to-use, it can be extensively used by users, but it might not be very useful to casual users due to the possible lack of proper knowledge. While an extensive knowledge of networks isn’t demand, a little would be quite beneficial.

7. InSSIDer

Network Results Generated in the InSSIDer Wi-Fi Analyzer

Image Source – metageek.com

A Wi-Fi analyzer tool that allows analysis of nearby Wi-Fi networks and is quite cheap when compared to other similar tools available in the market. This tool gathers all information from a given Wi-Fi network from encryption standards used to signal strength of the Wi-Fi and as the name suggests, the SSID as well.

The InSSIDer is very user-friendly, allowing in depth analysis at the click of a button. Key features of the InSSIDer are given below:

  1. In-depth analysis of wireless network
  2. User-friendly GUI and can be used by even non-technical users
  3. In-expensive cost
  4. Allows real-time visualisation

However, this tool isn’t without its drawbacks. One major such drawback is the lack of enough functionality required in a corporate environment. Even though it is cheap, it falls short of providing enough data or features that many professionals look for.

This puts the InSSIDer in quite a dilemma as it is too expensive for casual users, but doesn’t have enough functionalities for professionals. But even so, this might be a good choice for small scale businesses.

8. NetCut

Network Information from NetCut Wi-Fi Analyzer

Image Source –dnsstuff.com

NetCut is a Wi-Fi analysis tool that was originally developed as a back-end solution. NetCut allows analysis of your Wi-Fi network and gathers a lot of data such as IP address, Access Point information, MAC address etc of the connected network devices.

The tool allows user to kick out unauthorised users as well as restore access to banned users without having to access the router’s admin settings.

The tool also allows signal strength test, and can run on Windows, MacOS as well as Android. Key features of NetCut are as follows:

  1. Gathers in-depth data about wireless network
  2. Revoking and restoring access to users at will
  3. Runs on Windows, MacOS as well as Android
  4. Adds an extra layer of security using NetCut Defender, providing protection against spoofing attacks

Unfortunately, due to its origin as a back-end solution, a lot of the documentation would be machine translated making it hard to understand for standard users. It can however, be used in a professional or corporate setting due to the wide array of data collected.

9. Microsoft Wi-Fi Analyzer

Graph Representation of Network Results in Microsoft Wi-Fi Analyzer

Image Source – dnsstuff.com

A free Wi-Fi analyzer tool launched by Microsoft, it is designed specifically with user-friendliness in mind, and presents the user’s home Wi-Fi data in an easy to comprehend format. The tool also has a visual display that shows the signal strength and various other details of the required wireless network.

Key features of Microsoft’s Wi-Fi Analyzer are as follows:

  1. Simple GUI presenting the network data in an easy-to-understand form
  2. Offers an audible beep signal to indicate Wi-Fi signal strength
  3. Supports free version
  4. Perfect and easy to use for home users

Since it wasn’t intended to be used in a professional setting, it lacks many of the more advanced features. But it meets almost all needs for a standard user with a paid pro version that adds a few sound effects to the app.

10. AirMagnet Wi-Fi Analyzer Pro

Analysing a Wireless Network with the AirMagnet Wi-Fi Analyzer Pro

Image Source –netally.com

The AirMagnet Pro is a Wi-Fi analyzer tool capable of performing real-time data analysis on a network. It performs Wireshark-like analysis with more depth and provides a better interface for visualisation. It also is capable of minimising noise and interference from other networks as well as track all connected devices in the network.

One of its key features is that it can perform analysis from a user perspective which means that it takes into account what points the user of the network needs most optimisation and what points don’t.

Key features of the AirMagnet Wi-Fi Analyzer Pro are as listed below:

  1. Performs real-time data analysis on the Wi-Fi network
  2. Can keep an inventory of all devices connected on the wireless network
  3. Performs testing from client POV
  4. Issues that need immediate action are flagged
  5. Provides details on Wi-Fi coverage, strength, performance and any network issues

This tool can automatically detect issues and troubleshoot them without impeding the performance of the Wi-Fi network. It can also detect potential vulnerabilities of the Wi-Fi network which ensures maximum safety of the network and devices.

11. Wi-Fi Explorer

Output Recorded in Graphs in the Wi-Fi Explorer GUI

Image Source – en.wikipedia.org

The Wi-Fi Explorer is a free tool designed for MacOS in particular, and it can perform a detailed Wi-Fi analysis. The tool can create detailed reports on all datapoints of analysis and also has its own version of heatmaps. The tool works with Wi-Fi channels in both the 2.4GHz as well as the 5GHz bands.

Key functions of the Wi-Fi Explorer tool are below:

  1. In-depth analysis of wireless networks
  2. Supports channels in 2.4GHz and 5GHz range
  3. Well suited for medium to large sized networks
  4. Also offers spectrum analysis
  5. Provides sensor support along with remote capture capability

A very good tool for beginners and professionals alike, the tool can start Wi-Fi analysis immediately and doesn’t require any manual settings. The tool also supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi channels offering the discovery of a wider variety of wireless networks.

A very good tool for beginners as it is simple enough to learn to use and has almost all functions necessary for a detailed Wi-Fi analysis. Due to the availability of certain advanced features in the paid version, it can also be used by professionals.

12. Kismet

Various Wi-Fi Networks Detected by Kismet Wi-Fi Analyzer

Image Source –linuxuprising.com

Kismet is one of the best Linux based tools for Wi-Fi analysis. This tool is highly versatile as it can function as a packet sniffer, war-driving tool, and a Wireless Intrusion Detection tool besides the normal Wi-Fi analyzer function.

The tool can work on MacOS as well due to the shared Unix root and to a certain degree, in Windows 10 as well with a WSL framework installed.

Some of the key features of Kismet are:

  1. Supports client/server modular architecture
  2. Allows multiple sources for data capture
  3. Additional plugins are also supported that expands the core functionality of the tool
  4. Provides output in an XML format so that it can be integrated with other tools
  5. Can also scan Bluetooth signals besides Wi-Fi

The analyzer can be improved using various extra plugins that can expand the basic functionality of it. This is a very important feature of the tool allowing it to be modified as per user requirement.

However, this is mostly useful in a home setting and small-scale companies since even though it has a lot of functionality, it lacks any sort of reporting capability that is a must have for most professionals.

13. Vistumbler

Displaying Wireless networks with GPS on the Vistumbler Wi-Fi Analyzer

Image Source – ttcshelbyville.wordpress.com

Vistumbler is quite a unique Wi-Fi analyser tool with its ability to integrate with a GPS system or a map. It marks all Wi-Fi networks analysed on the map along with its coverage and statistics making future analysis much easier.

This tool creates a unique graph for each wireless network in the area, with stronger signals creating a larger amplitude. The graph allows easy separation and better readability to the user making the whole app more user-friendly.

Some of the key features of the Vistumbler Wi-Fi Analyzer are:

  1. Offers GPS support allowing integration with Google Earth & display Wi-Fi networks with it
  2. Can display the Wi-Fi network on a map
  3. Allows visualisation by displaying Wi-Fi networks as graphs
  4. Free to use tool

The main feature of the tool, the GPS integration, does require an external GPS device to be attached in order for it to work. The user can then display the Wi-FI network on a map in Google Earth with this support for GPS.

This Wi-Fi analyzer too, like Wireshark and a few others, has quite a steep learning curve due to its complexity. But once learnt, it is very useful and efficient.

14. Wi-Fi Commander

3D Graphs as Seen on Wi-Fi Commander

Image Source – wifi3d.app

Wi-Fi Commander is one of the only Wi-Fi analyzers to have a 3D graph representation for the data it collects from a Wi-Fi network. It works on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands as well making it possible to view a wider array of wireless networks. Some of the main features of Wi-Fi Commander include:

  1. Unique design with a touch friendly layout
  2. Allows instant switching between networks
  3. Supports multiple Wi-Fi adapters
  4. Also available for mobile devices
  5. Allows to filter and sort wireless networks

Again, the tool isn’t without drawbacks. Due to the lack of most of the advanced functions, the Wi-Fi Commander is mainly suited for small scale businesses and home use.

The 3D graphs, no matter how attractive are definitely an issue due to their high resource consumption and are at the end of the day, only a gimmick as they serve no purpose to improve user experience.

15. NetSpot for Android

Graphical User Interface of the NetSpot for Android

Image Source –netspotapp.com

NetSpot for android, as the name suggests, is designed solely for android devices. While it can’t perform any advance functions such as site surveys or heatmaps, it pretty much does most of the operations that a mobile user might need.

The app is capable of scanning the Wi-Fi networks in the area, allowing optimisation up to a certain extent. It also allows collection of data in real-time and works with the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. Some of its supported features are detailed below:

  1. Gathers relevant network information from the wireless network such as MAC address, Network name, channels and bands, encryption scheme etc
  2. Works in the 2.4GHz as well as 5GHz Wi-Fi bands
  3. Can collect real-time data from a wireless network
  4. Easy to use design for non-technical users

The NetSpot for Android tool supports Wi-Fi channels in the 2.4GHz as well as the 5GHz frequencies. It gathers a wide variety of information from the selected Wi-Fi network with more accuracy than other similar android applications.

Lastly, it allows a user to switch between Wi-Fi channels to reduce the amount of channel noise and traffic.

16. WiFiman

Wi-Fi Analyser results on the WiFiman App

Image Source – play.google.com

A personal favourite, the WiFiman is a Wi-Fi analyzer designed for mobile devices, and is available for android as well as iOS. The tool is one of the most sophisticated Wi-Fi analyzers that you can find for mobile devices, and is quite easy to use even for users with no networking knowledge.

The app is free-to-use making it more than sufficient for personal home uses. It can create a map of the Wi-Fi coverage in your home and vicinity and even supports bluetooth signal detection. Some of the main features of the WiFiman app are:

  1. Displays details about nearby Wi-Fi networks as well as Bluetooth Low Energy devices
  2. Analyses network speed, coverage as well as traffic free channels
  3. Free to use and doesn’t contain any ads
  4. Detects individual devices connected on the network

It works using a Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) service allowing it to track and list all devices connected to a Wi-Fi network.

17. OpenSignal

OpenSignal GUI and Map Support to Locate Nearest Cell Tower

Image Source – pinterest.com

Even though the OpenSignal app is more suited for mobile network testing, it can also work with normal Wi-Fi networks at your home. It has a very user-friendly design with a myriad of features allowing wireless or mobile network analysis.

It also has a GPS and map integration using the in-built GPS, that allows a user to locate the closest mobile network tower to gets best connectivity and performance.

Some key features of OpenSignal include:

  1. Analyzes mobile network signal besides the usual Wi-Fi signal
  2. Provides a map and GPS integration allowing a user to track the closest mobile network tower for best connectivity
  3. Works in 3G/4G and LTE bands
  4. Allows testing quality of video streams
  5. Free app and displays no ads

The app, given its wide variety of features offered, surprisingly lacks any ads even though being free of cost. Besides showing directions to the nearest mobile network tower, it can also run speed and latency tests, display coverage, and the connection quality of the network.

18. Wi-Fi Analyzer

Wireless Network Nearby represented in Graphs and the Signal Meter on WiFi Analyzer App

Image Source – bestappsguru.com

The Wi-Fi analyzer app is the lightest Wi-Fi analyzer app available in the market for mobile devices. It uses graphs to represent Wi-Fi networks, with stronger signals creating higher amplitudes.

It also has a signal strength testing meter that allows a user to find spot in the area with a strong Wi-Fi signal. Its simple design and ease of use makes it one of the Wi-Fi analyzers on this list with the smallest learning curve and best user friendly design.

Features of the Wi-Fi Analyzer app are as listed below:

  1. Visualisation of wireless networks with graphs
  2. Channel rating listing the best available channels for the network
  3. Signal strength meter available to find area with strongest signal
  4. Allows exporting the results of the Wi-Fi analysis
  5. Checks any faults with the Wi-Fi security

One of the most important functionalities found on the app is its channel rating section. It lists all channels supported by Wi-Fi network along with a rating that takes into account the traffic, interference, noise as well as connection speed.

The user can then pick a channel with highest rating for the Wi-Fi network to operate in ensuring best quality of connection.

19. IP Tools: Wi-Fi Analyzer

IP Tools: Wi-Fi Analyzer GUI Displaying Information about Nearby Wireless Networks

Image Source – iptools.su

The IP Tools: Wi-Fi analyzer is yet another Wi-Fi analyzer app for mobile devices, but is available only for Android operating system. It allows users to scan Wi-Fi networks and allows them to optimise the performance and improve connection speed.

It also stores a log of the Wi-Fi connection as well as gathers information such as IP, TTL, Traceroute, and such details relating to the network.

Key features of the IP Tools: Wi-Fi Analyzer are as follows:

  1. Allows optimising wireless networks to improve their speed
  2. Can gather data such as IP address, SSID, TTL, Traceroute, network mask and much more
  3. It also provides location coordinates of the provider
  4. Can detect any issues with the network that hinder the connectivity

Even though the app does not have any GPS or map integration, it can display the location of the provider of the network with its latitude and longitude coordinates. The app can even detect faults in the network that cause problem to connectivity and performance of the network. This allows a user to quickly fix these issues resulting in minimum down time.

While aimed for use by home users, it is quite complicated and has features that a home user might not require.

20. Sparrow-Wi-Fi Analyzer

Sparrow-Wi-Fi Analyzer GUI Showing Wi-Fi Networks using Graphs

Image Source – securityonline.info

The Sparrow-Wi-Fi Analyzer runs on the Linux operating system and can also analyze Bluetooth signals. The tool can work in the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz bands, and is a user-friendly easy-to-install replacement to most other Linux based Wi-Fi analyzers.

It uses a graphical representation for all gathered information, with each wireless network displayed as one wave in the graph. It also supports a tabular view of the same results as per user requirement.

Some of the key features of the Sparrow-Wi-Fi Analyzer are:

  1. Can scan and analyze both Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth signals
  2. Offers a graphical representation of data which is absent in most other Linux based tools
  3. Also supports GPS that allows mapping of the wireless networks and all connected devices
  4. Easy to install with only a couple lines of terminal commands
  5. Also supports SSID detection and Wi-Fi source tracking that allows the reveal of hidden Wi-Fi networks

However, like many other Linux based Wi-Fi analyzer tools, the Sparrow-Wi-Fi Analyzer has a quite a tough learning curve with it being targeted for advanced level users. It also lacks a lot of functionality that these advanced level users look for and are available in various other Wi-Fi analyzer tools.

21. Network Analyzer

All Nearby Wi-=Fi Networks shown on the Network Analyzer GUI for iOS

Image Source – comparitech.com

Finally, the Network Analyzer is a Wi-Fi analyzer app that is meant to work on mobile devices that run the iOS. The tool can gather network information such as signal strength, transmission time, IP address, and more. The app can also be used to analyze mobile network besides regular Wi-Fi networks.

It also has an additional LAN scanner that is able to display all wireless devices connected to the Wi-Fi network. In short, it works almost like OpenSignal but only for iOS devices.

Some of the key features of the Network Analyzer app are given below:

  1. User friendly interface allowing to be used by even non-technical users
  2. Allows calculation of Wi-Fi latency, jitter, response time etc
  3. Can detect all wireless devices connected to the Wi-Fi
  4. Also, allows the analysis of mobile network signals

The app comes in two different versions – a freeware and a paid version. The freeware as always is quite capable on its own and can meet all the basic analysis needs of a home user. The paid version adds a few extra features to this.


How to Use a Wi-Fi Analyzer

All the different Wi-Fi analyzers listed above will have their own GUI and functionalities. But the basic process of performing a simple Wi-Fi analysis is listed in the below few steps.

1. Download and Install a Wi-Fi Analyzer

First, download a Wi-Fi analyzer of your choice. In this article we will be using the free-to-use ‘Wi-Fi Analyzer’ app for Android. You can pick any app whether for Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS.

Installing the Wi-Fi Analyzer on Android

Image Source – play.google.com

Wi-Fi Analyzer used in this case will be available in the Google Playstore and can be downloaded for free.

2. Run the Analyzer and Compare All Networks in the Area

Open the app and grant necessary permissions. You should be connected to your Wi-Fi while doing this. Now the app will display the channel graph with all the wireless networks available in your area.

Installing the Wi-Fi Analyzer on Android

Here, fortunately in our case, there are not many wireless networks in the area which is quite a good thing. Since there is not much interference from other networks, our network ‘Lord of Pings’, will work flawlessly.

3. View Channel Ratings for the Current Wireless Network

Now, go to options and select the channel rating option. One your first time, you will have to pick the Wi-Fi you are currently connected to in order to see the channel ratings

Selecting Channel Rating Wi-Fi Analyzer

Selecting the required network on the Wi-Fi Analyzer

Selecting the Best Channel on Wi-Fi Analyzer

Once selected, you can browse all the channels available in the network. Each channel will be rated out of 10, the best with a score of 10 and the worst with a score of 0. You can compare all the channel rating, and pick one that has the best rating.

4. Optional, Find the Best Location for the Best Signal

The Wi-Fi Analyzer app also has a signal meter available. This meter reads and displays the current signal strength of your Wi-Fi network. You can walk around your area to find the best location with the strongest Wi-Fi Signal

Signal Meter on Wi-Fi Analyzer to test Signal strength

The app also has various other Wi-Fi details such as MAC addresses, IP details etc, which the user can have a look into if interested.


Conclusion

In short, even though wireless technology has advanced beyond expectations since its inception, there are still many flaws that exist. In our article, we first explored how you can secure your home Wi-Fi network, then went on to discuss about Wi-F analyzers. We then listed the top 21 Wi-Fi analyzers available currently in the market and finally ended with a small guide to using a Wi-Fi analyzer on your home Wi-Fi network.

Hope you enjoyed reading the article, and if you have any suggestions, or we missed out one of the top Wi-Fi analyzers on the market, please comment below and let us know!

Tags: 
Technology
Author
Rakesh Naik
Freelance Cyber Security Analyst and Writer practicing in Infosec Assessment.

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