WiFi connections can prove tricky to set up and keep working reliably. I have set up hundreds of WiFi networks for people over the years and many of the problems can be tracked down with the aid of a good networking tool like WiFi Analyzer. I use this app regularly to help with the best placement of routers in homes and businesses and to find out if there may be a conflicting router or cordless phone – more on this later.
There are several screens provided in the app that show a lot of detail about technical terms that probably most people will not have come across before, so I’ll briefly explain these. The first screen, channel graph, shows all the WiFi networks close enough for the phone or tablet to ‘see’, including (hopefully) your own. The relative signal strengths of the networks are displayed and also the channels they are on. This is useful if your own network is on the same channel as another strong signal – it is wise to change your WiFi channel if this is the case. This is done within your router setup which is a little complicated to go into here, but it isn’t hard to figure out how to do this if you read your router manual. Use the channel rating screen to see the rating of each channel – again, you can change your router channel if your particular one has a low star rating and performance is poor.
The AP List screen provides more details about each network found – including the type of security used. If yours shows WEP or worse, no security encryption at all – change this to either WPA or WPA2 within your router settings and set a strong password. Your device IP address is also shown which can come in very handy to work out your router IP address too. (tip: if the device IP is something like 192.168.0.15 – your router IP is probably 192.168.0.1).
Finally, the Signal Meter screen shows a handy meter display that can be used to find where the strongest signal areas in your home are. Your tablet, phone or laptop should be able to reliably connect so long as the meter shows -75dBm or higher. Radio signals are easily blocked by metal screens, including reinforcing rods inside concrete or brick walls, while they usually pass easily though dry wall or timber. Of course, line of sight or through windows can provide useful signal strength over 50 – 70 metres or sometimes more.
As I mentioned, this app is so useful it has become one of the first I install whenever I get a new phone. If there is any doubt which WiFi connection is the correct one to connect to, I just fire up the app and look for the strongest signal when I am standing beside the router!
Price : FREE
Size : 2.0Mb
Needs : Android 2.3+