Best WiFi Analyzer Apps

What does a WiFi analyzer do?

When it comes to WiFi, signal fluctuation is incredibly common. The reason is that your WiFi signal strength is constantly changing due to external conditions. Some days you’ll be able to browse without disconnecting, and others you’ll be in a battle just to stay online. This is made even more difficult if you don’t have the tools to diagnose the problem. This is where a WiFi analyzer app can be useful.

In a nutshell, a WiFi analyzer app breaks down information from access points on your network and places it into a single screen.

A WiFi analyzer tool generates a visual display of the network data of your surrounding channels. The app turns your computer or mobile device into an analytics program that allows you to identify what you need to do to optimize your network.

For example, with a WiFi analyzer app like Microsoft WiFi Analyzer, you can look at other channels on your network and identify if they are faster than your current channel. Some providers will even allow you to draw up heat maps of signal distribution in your house or office to help you find the best location for your router.

Here is our list of the seven best WiFi analyzers and WiFi Signal Strength Apps for Windows:

  1. SolarWinds WiFi Analysis with NPM EDITOR’S CHOICE Part of the Network Performance Monitor that runs on Windows Server, this tool shows a live list of WiFi endpoint statuses and generates an amazing wireless signal heat map. Evaluate on a 30-day free trial.
  2. NetSpot Built for Windows and Mac OS, this wireless monitoring system includes autodiscovery and live performance maps.
  3. Acrylic Wi-Fi WiFi analyzer for Windows that is free for home use, but business customers have to pay.
  4. MetaGeek InSSIDer WiFi analyzer is one of a suite of free tools available from MetaGeek. Sign up for the paid package to get extra features to fix wireless performance problems. Runs on Windows.
  5. WiFi Analyzer This tool for Windows is offered for free but has a paid upgraded version. It will tune your live connection and identify other surrounding wireless APs.
  6. Vistumber Nifty free WiFi analyzer that can overlay signal footprints on a Google map.
  7. Wireshark Very well-known wireless packet sniffer that aids hackers and system administrators alike.

Here is our list of the three best WiFi analyzers and WiFi Signal Strength Apps for macOS:

  1. Netspot WiFi analyzer for Mac OS that includes a heat map facility and an interference assessor.
  2. WiFi Explorer A mid-level WiFi analyzer for Macs that includes signal strength indicators and noise measurements.
  3. WiFi Scanner WiFi scanner for Mac OS that is suitable for both business and home users.

Here is our list of the three best WiFi analyzers and WiFi Signal Strength Apps for Linux:

  1. Kismet Free WiFi analyzer for Linux, Unix, and Mac OS that can be extended by plugins.
  2. wavemon Free WiFi analyzer for Linux that is available from GitHub.
  3. Sparrow-WiFi Analyzer WiFi analyzer for Linux that tracks Bluetooth as well and can also employ GPS.

Here is our list of the three best WiFi analyzer and WiFi Signal Strength Apps for Android:

  1. farproc WiFi Analyzer Widely-used WiFi analyzing app for Android.
  2. OpenSignal WiFi and phone signal analyzer for Android that includes geographical maps with signals imposed.
  3. First Row Network Scanner This app provides a range of tools in addition to a signal detection system. You also get an IP calculator, Ping, TraceRoue, and a port scanner.

Here is our list of the three best WiFi analyzer and WiFi Signal Strength Apps apps for iOS:

  1. Network Analyzer This free tool provides device discovery and performance tracking for LANs and also signal identification and analysis for wireless networks. Available for Android and iOS.
  2. Master Network Analyzer WiFi device detector for iOS and Android that includes performance management analytics.
  3. Fing This app is widely acclaimed and free to use. This tool provides intrusion detection for a wireless network and can detect hidden cameras.

Why use a WiFi Analyzer?

The main reason why you need a WiFi analyzer is to maintain your connection quality. WiFi signals are in a constant state of fluctuation. Your WiFi connection can be performing well until something in the network changes and starts to impede its performance.

Troubleshooting WiFi issues

Troubleshooting a problem requires data collection and analysis. Without the source information on the normal operations of your network and the current behavior of the troubled system, your solution will be mere guesswork.

When your WiFi starts to slow down or disconnect, a WiFi analyzer will help you to identify the problem. By diagnosing the problem and addressing it, you ensure your connection stays up and running with minimal interference. A WiFi analyzer enables you to run diagnostics on what is happening with your connection and provides you with the information needed to optimize your network.

For example, if your signal distribution around the house is poor, you’ll be able to use an analyzer to find this information out. That being said, WiFi analyzers can be used for much more than troubleshooting your signal distribution. You can use a WiFi analyzer to locate and use a less congested channel.

Sharing the same WiFi Channel with Neighboring WiFi networks

Sharing the same channel with nearby devices results in low connection speeds, interference, and disconnection. It’s not uncommon for channels to be shared amongst your neighbors (particularly if you live in an apartment). This is one of the most common reasons for poor connectivity and can be rectified via the use of a quality WiFi analyzer.

Using a WiFi analyzer can help improve your user experience, speed up browsing, and eliminate the hassle of trying to guess what factors are impeding your connection quality while troubleshooting. After all, it’s almost impossible to optimize your network if you lack the tools to be able to see what’s going on.

What is a WiFi Heatmap?

Many advanced WiFi analyzers will have an inbuilt heatmap function. As mentioned above a WiFi heatmap will produce a visual display of the signal strength in your house. You’ll be able to see where your signal is strongest and choose the best location for your router.

One of the best heatmap tools on the market is the SolarWinds Wi-Fi Heat Map.

Solar Winds allows the user to create custom wireless router heat maps and displays ‘dead zones’ where connectivity is poor. The tool works by reading the signal strength of nearby access points and indicating the quality of your connection based on signal location.

What makes this tool so effective is that the WiFi heat map can produce a physical image of an entire network site. This allows you to easily identify where your site is causing problems for your connection, and what needs to be done to address it. In short, a heat map makes it easier to improve your coverage and signal strength.

Our methodology for selecting WiFi analyzer apps and tools

We reviewed the market for WiFi analyzer apps and tools and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:

  • A graphical representation that shows all of the channels within range
  • An indicator of signal strength
  • Analysis functions that indicate signal overlap
  • Alerts to indicate the loss of signal or performance problems
  • Identifiers for each access point transmitting signals
  • A free tool or a free assessment period
  • A good price that is worth paying or a free tool that is worth installing

The best WiFi analyzers for Windows

1. SolarWinds Wi-Fi Analyzer (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds WiFi Analyzer npm-wireless

The SolarWinds Wi-Fi Analyzer module that comes with the Network Performance Monitor (NPM) will keep your wireless networks ticking over faultlessly. This tool begins its service life with an autodiscovery phase. The AP detection system then continues running to give you live statuses on your wireless networks.

Key Features:

  • Autodiscovery includes wireless APs
  • Covers all networks
  • WiFi heatmaps

Why do we recommend it?

The SolarWinds Wi-Fi Analyzer is part of a wider network monitoring package. It adds wireless monitoring capabilities onto a LAN monitoring service. This is a useful system both for everyday monitoring and for troubleshooting.

The inventory built up by the discovery phase automatically translates into a map of your wireless devices. You can even generate a wireless heat map by uploading a floorplan of your premises. This will show the signal footprint of all of your wireless APS and helps you see instantly where overlaps and gaps cause service problems.

The NPM tracks the statuses of all network equipment, not just wireless APs, so you will be able to see how your WiFi system fits into your wider network, including remote sites and Cloud services across the internet.

SolarWinds wifi analyzer - Wireless Access Points view

The support given by the Wi-Fi Analyzer highlights WiFi bandwidth issues and performance impairment so that you can quickly resolve network problems and improve service. The screens of the monitor contain live status reports and also include an investigative tool, called PerfStack, which uses drag and drop access to let you lay performance monitoring charts on top of each other. This gives you a clear picture of what equipment is the root cause of any performance problems, which you will see ripple through the stack of charts.

An alternative performance management monitor view in the tool is the NetPath screen. This shows you the transition points between all of the links in your network, letting you see the route that signals cross from and to your wireless networks. This is another opportunity to get a visual clue on where performance problems lie.

Who is it recommended for?

This on-premises package is a good service for medium-sized and large businesses because it combines the monitoring of both wired and wireless networks. Performance alerts in the package mean that a network administrator doesn’t have to watch the console all the time in order to catch evolving problems. So, this is a good choice for time-pressed administrators.

Pros:

  • Takes a holistic approach to wireless monitoring using a number of tools to monitor and test WiFi networks
  • Supports auto-discovery that collects new devices and immediately starts tracking their connectivity and performance
  • Includes root cause analysis tools to help improve the troubleshooting process
  • Great for wireless heat mapping as well as onsite surveys for gathering data post installation
  • Build to support enterprise networks and large companies

Cons:

  • A feature-rich tool that requires some technical expertise to fully use all the available features

You can get the SolarWinds Wi-Fi Analyzer module as part of the NPM. It installs on Windows Server and you can access the system software on a 30-day free trial.

EDITOR'S CHOICE

SolarWinds Wi-Fi Analysis with NPM: this tool takes our top spot thanks to its wide range of features that beginner and advanced users alike will appreciate.

Get 30-day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/topics/wifi-analyzer/

OS: Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016 or 2019 and SQL Server 2016 SP1 or later

2. NetSpot

Netspot wifi analyzer

As mentioned above, NetSpot is one of the best programs on Windows and Mac because of its detailed heatmap. The user can upload a map of their location and run a survey with little complication. Once the survey has been completed, the areas where your connection is strongest will be marked in red.

Key Features:

  • Automatically spots surrounding signal footprints
  • Graphical signal display
  • Heat maps

Why do we recommend it?

NetSpot offers channel detection and signal analysis. The tool will show you all of the devices that are connected to the wireless network and their traffic. It also provides detailed signal performance information that includes a signal-to-noise ratio and a wireless heatmap that displays signal footprint and strength over a floor plan of your premises.

In NetSpot’s discover mode, you’ll be able to compile data from the surrounding WiFi networks and convert it into a table. On the table, you’ll be able to access information on the SSID, MAC Address, Signal Information, and Vendor.

Who is it recommended for?

NetSpot is a free tool, so it is worth anyone trying The heatmap screen is easy to understand and you might just need that. The signal analysis features go into great detail and so can take time to learn.

Pros:

  • Can operate on both Windows and Mac platforms
  • Is very user friendly, and allows user to easily upload their own maps for site surveys
  • Balances technical features with ease of use that finds a nice middle-ground for most users

Cons:

  • Would like to see more export and reporting functionality
  • The evaluation version is limited and doesn’t offer a good feel for the product before purchase

Likewise, you can convert this data into a CSV file to create a paper record. The program’s combination of simplicity and technical detail makes it suitable for both home users and network administrators.

3. Acrylic Wi-Fi

Acrylic Wi-Fi Home wifi analyzer

Acrylic Wi-Fi is a free wifi analyzer designed for Windows. The user can scan for local wireless routers and compile a table of the relevant details. All the core metrics are included in the table, such as MAC address, SSID, RSSI, channel, and vendor.

Key Features:

  • Free for home use
  • Data in list and graphical format
  • Subscription or one-time fee

Why do we recommend it?

Attach a floor plan of your premises to the Acrylic Wi-Fi tool to see a live heatmap that displays the signal footprint and strength from each AP. This tool is a good choice for analyzing signal details because it also provides detailed performance information on each channel and each wireless device in the area.

In addition, the monitor mode allows the user to monitor network packets, which can be used to locate hidden networks. Unfortunately, Acrylic is only free for personal use, and business users will have to obtain the professional version.

Who is it recommended for?

Unless your business is heavily dependent on wireless for network delivery, you probably wouldn’t need a detailed analysis tool like Acrylic for everyday use. Consultants that are frequently called in to analyze the systems of clients would get a lot of use from this tool when loaded onto a laptop.

Pros:

  • Free tool with a paid option for more in-depth features
  • Supports a monitoring mode for packet capture

Cons:

  • Interface can feel overwhelming and cluttered when scanning larger networks
  • Difficult to get started, could benefit from a simple tutorial or additional support

The professional version can be obtained for an annual subscription of $19.95 (£15.07) or a one-time payment of $39.95 (£30.19), which grants the user access to more detailed network information and report generation.

4. MetaGeek InSSIDer

MetaGeek InSSIDer

inSSIDer is a free tool produced by MetaGeek. The provider has a number of WiFi management packages that are available for free. A bundle of these tools, called MetaGeek Pro is available with higher functions that include InSSIDer and cost $200 (£151.14) per year. MetaGeek also calls its paid bundle MetaGeek Plus and MetaGeek Complete. The free tool has an attractive interface that shows all wireless signals within range of the host computer. Footprints are shown in a list that can be re-ordered according to each of the displayed attributes.

Key Features:

  • Free and paid versions
  • Graphical data representations
  • Higher plan stores packets to file

Why do we recommend it?

MetaGeek InSSIDer offers two levels of services and the lower option is free to use. The service identifies each signal within range of the device on which the software is installed and shows it strength. The higher edition provides details on signals that enable troubleshooting.

Selecting one of the entries gets finer details, including signal strength over time in a graph across the top of the screen. The details screen also shows the encryption type used by the AP and the channel of the signal.

Who is it recommended for?

The free version of MetaGeek InSSIDer is a good tool for small businesses, particularly as the MetaGeek website provides guides and tips on troubleshooting and performance improvements for wireless networks. The paid plan is a good choice for larger businesses. It has detailed analysis statistics on a drill-down page.

Pros:

  • Live performance tracking
  • Simple yet efficient interface
  • Easy to use, even for non-technical users

Cons:

  • Lack enterprise functionality, reporting, robust alerts, etc

The free version of insider has great visualizations but not a very extensive range of admin tools. The high version that is available in the MetaGeek Pro package has more capabilities.

InSSIDer installs on Windows and it can be downloaded for free. You can get the MetaGeek Pro package on a 14-day free trial.

5. WiFi Analyzer

wifi analyzer

WiFi Analyzer is a signal optimizer for the current live connection. Users looking for an easy-to-use WiFi analyzer should look no further. The app has been designed specifically for home users and transforms the user’s network into a visual display where they can clearly see their signal strength.

Key Features:

  • Available for Windows and Android
  • Colorful graphical displays
  • More than 1 million downloads

Why do we recommend it?

WiFi Analyzer is a free tool that will automatically optimize your current wireless connection and it also displays details of other nearby APs. The paid version includes an audible alert for low signal strength.

Like many other apps on this list, WiFi Analyzer is available in both a free and a pro version for $2.99 (£2.15). The free version provides you with all you need to produce graphical displays and identify problems within your network.

The pro version builds on this by providing an auditory beeper for signal strength and the ability to change signal strength borders. As a bonus, the user can also connect straight to a new network via the app.

Who is it recommended for?

WiFi Analyzer is a good choice for home users and small businesses. Its main analysis services are limited to the device that the software runs on. So, it wouldn’t be much help for the network administrators of large businesses who need to gather data across a network.

Pros:

  • Supports a free and pro version
  • Simple interface makes the tool easy to use and beginner-friendly
  • Pro version offers an audible signal when performance issues occur

Cons:

  • Better fit for small networks and home users, not detailed enough for larger networks
  • Sacrifices technical metrics to become more user friendly

The simplicity of the user interface and the visual display make this an ideal choice for those new to WiFi analyzer tools. WiFi Analyzer makes it easy to look up available channels on your network and transition to the one that’s optimum.

6. Vistumbler

Vistumber wifi analyzer

If you’re looking to run WiFi analytics on a budget, Vistumbler should be your first port of call. This free tool allows the user to locate nearby access points and collect data on their signal strength. When using the platform you can create a unique graph of every network in your vicinity.

Key Features:

  • GPS option
  • Can plot onto Google Maps
  • Can track moving signals

Why do we recommend it?

Vistumbler uses the wireless transceiver of the device that hosts it and identifies all APs within range. This system is limited to analyzing the AP signals from one location.

Vistumber’s graphs make it easy to identify which networks are performing well, and what you can do to improve your own network performance monitoring. If you’re looking for more of a location-based approach, then you’ll need to add a GPS to your laptop.

If you do this you’ll be able to generate an infrastructure wireless network map over a Google earth image. This means if Vistumbler finds a network it pinpoints it on the map with its accompanying information (name, encryption type, signal strength). The only problem with Vistumber is that it’s not easy to use.

Who is it recommended for?

The Vistumbler system is free to use and it is suitable for home use or in the locations of small businesses.

Pros:

  • Completely free tool
  • Supports built-in graphing that is automatically created based on devices in the area

Cons:

  • Interface is limited and not ideal for enterprise-size networks
  • Not as user-friendly for non-technical customers
  • Steeper learning curve than most other WiFi analyzers

Vistumbler was originally designed to enable users to search for WiFi networks in moving vehicles, so it’s not tailored toward home or office users. However, once you get past the initial learning curve, it offers more than enough to optimize your network.

7. Wireshark

Wireshark dashboard

Wireshark is an open-source packet analyzer and network analysis tool. The system can also be used as a WiFi analyzer tool for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This free program is tailored towards both professional and home users. Wireshark is a powerful network analyzer and has the strength to generate data on an entire office network.

Key Features:

  • Shows packet contents
  • Saves to file
  • Analysis for VoIP

Why do we recommend it?

Wireshark is a world-famous packet analysis tool and it is great for capturing, filtering, and viewing data packets. As long as packets can reach the device that hosts the Wireshark software, the system will capture and analyze them. This means that it can collect packets from wireless networks as well as LANs.

The system offers live data capture so that you can see real-time network connections and look for connectivity issues. Likewise, you can also run decryption and VOIP analysis to improve the visibility of surrounding networks.

Who is it recommended for?

Wireshark has its own query language for filtering and sorting data. This is a complicated system that takes a long time to learn and so it isn’t really suitable for anyone that doesn’t have technical skills. Systems administrators that have done a course in the usage of Wireshark will really benefit from its analytical power.

Pros:

  • One of the most in-depth tools for wireless technical analysis
  • Lightweight application that can run on nearly all machines
  • Supports verbose live data capture
  • Can integrate into more robust data collection systems
  • Is completely free

Cons:

  • Technically a packet analyzer and not a WiFi analyzer, makes it more difficult to configure specifically for wireless devices
  • Has the highest learning curve when compared to its competitors
  • Requires deep technical knowledge, not user friendly

The only problem with Wireshark is there’s not much in the way of external support. There’s an active community but little to no supporting documentation to help users with any problems that arise.

That being said, the diverse functionality of the platform offers more than enough to provide home and office users with an industry WiFi standard analyzer suite.

The best WiFi analyzers for MacOS

1. NetSpot

Netspot wifi analyzer

When it comes to WiFi analyzer apps for Mac, Netspot is one of the best offerings on the market. Netspot offers a detailed heat map that allows the user to identify signal strength in their surrounding location. The app collects data on everything from channel width, to MAC address, signal quality, and network encryption to provide more transparency over your local network.

Key Features:

  • Detects interference
  • WiFi footprint on an office layout
  • Signal channel analysis
  • Free version

Why do we recommend it?

NetSpot offers channel detection and signal analysis. The tool will show you all of the devices that are connected to the wireless network and their traffic. It also provides detailed signal performance information that includes a signal-to-noise ratio and a wireless heatmap that displays signal footprint and strength over a floor plan of your premises.

Unlike many other analyzers, NetSpot allows you to assess WLAN interference as well. What really sets this app apart from the crowd is the depth of its reports, ease of use, and network information. The program color codes areas of signal strength, with weak signals being highlighted by purple or blue.

Who is it recommended for?

NetSpot is a free tool, so it is worth anyone trying The heatmap screen is easy to understand and you might just need that. The signal analysis features go into great detail and so can take time to learn.

Pros:

  • Great option is only using a Mac
  • Calculates WLAN interference and can help guide changes based on neighboring signals
  • Uses simple color-coding to guide users for best device placement and channel selection
  • Features a free mobile app

Cons:

  • Not designed for enterprise networks
  • Mapping features could be easier to use

There are three editions of NetSpot: Home for $49 (£37.02), Pro for $149 (£112.57), and Enterprise for $499 (£377.03). These are the prices for a one-time purchase. The Home and Pro versions are each designed for a single user but the Enterprise edition has the facility to set up ten user accounts. However, the app provides another version where users can scan for local networks and view signal strength data for free.

2. WiFi Explorer

WiFi Explorer wifi analyzer

As one of the best mid-level tools on this list, WiFi Explorer is a solid alternative for beginners and experienced users alike. When a user launches WiFi Explorer they can start to locate local wireless networks immediately. Once this occurs, the user can flick through the networks identified via the use of the on-screen tabs.

Key Features:

  • Displays signal strength
  • Covers 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels
  • Identifies signal origin

Why do we recommend it?

Intuitibits WiFi Explorer is designed for Macs and it provides a console that shows a table of detected signals together with a graphical representation. The graph at the bottom of the monitoring screen shows the relative strength of the signal from each detected AP. This enables you to work out which is the best AP to connect to.

Users can look through everything: network details, signal strength, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels. The signal strength tab is WiFi Explorer’s version of the heatmaps seen in other apps like SolarWinds.

You can simply set the app to measure signal strength data and it will produce a graph as you walk around your building. The only drawback is that you won’t be able to detect hidden networks. This is because Apple doesn’t provide the necessary data to detect hidden wireless networks.

Who is it recommended for?

WiFi Explorer is a free tool and is good for home use. Small businesses that run on Macs will be pleased to find this wireless signal analyzer because most of the tools available on the market are built for Windows.

Pros:

  • Provides a solid balance between functionality and in-depth WiFi metrics
  • Full channel analysis for both 2.5 and 5 GHz channels
  • Interface is easy to learn and balances visuals with device metrics nicely
  • Best suited for medium to large size wireless networks

Cons:

  • Requires some networking knowledge to use, not the best non-technical option available

It’s worth mentioning that the app also provides a range of information to assist more experienced users looking for advanced functionality. You can identify information such as the SSID, BSSID, signal-to-noise ratio, and signal quality after you’ve identified another network. Whether you’re looking to break down your network performance or locate a more efficient channel, WiFi Explorer has you covered.

3. AccessAgility’s WiFi Scanner

wifi scanner dashboard

AccessAgility’s WiFi Scanner is one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to WiFi analyzers. The Mac version of the WiFi Scanner retails at $21.99 (£16.62) and it allows users to analyze their networks download and upload speeds with simplicity. This makes it ideal for home users who don’t have a large budget. There is also a WiFi Scanner for Windows, which has a free trial. The Windows version is much more expensive at $95 (£71.78) per month.

Key Features:

  • Available for Windows and macOS
  • Spots interlopers
  • Low price for Macs

Why do we recommend it?

AccessAgility WiFi Scanner is available for Windows and macOS. The tool detects all nearby wireless signals and provides a graph that shows the relative signal strength of each. Click through tabs for details of all of the encountered networks.

The app breaks down access points in the surrounding area and provides information such as BSSID and MAC addresses. Unlike many other tools on this list, WiFi Scanner also enables the user to detect unauthorized devices on the network through the use of an IP scanner. This makes it a great tool for overall network transparency.

Who is it recommended for?

The fact that this tool runs on a desktop means that it is only good for scanning the immediate environments. That means that it is more suitable for home users and small businesses that only need to scan a single space. A nice feature is that the software runs on Macs and well as PCs.

Pros:

  • Competitively priced
  • Can help administrators detect rogue access points and unauthorized devices on the network
  • Better suited for small LANs and home users

Cons:

  • Not the best fit for enterprises
  • Lacks in-depth reporting and auditing features

The best WiFi analyzers for Linux

1. Kismet

kismet

Kismet is a WiFi analyzer or network analyzer designed to work with IEEEE802.11 WiFi cards. Kismet is often used by Linux users but can also be used on FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and Mac OS as well. This tool is widely used because it offers support for a range of protocols including Bluetooth and RTL433.

Key Features:

  • Detects Bluetooth as well as WiFi
  • Expandable with plugins
  • Customizable
  • Free to use

Why do we recommend it?

Kismet is able to detect Bluetooth networks as well as WiFi. This is a long-running and well-known free tool. Although it is highly respected, the documentation and guidance on usage is sparse. However, the tool has a rudimentary intrusion detection system and the packets that it captures can be read into Wireshark or Snort for deeper analysis.

The Kismet 2018 version is offering a number of features that enhance the basic functionality of the platform. Now when working with a large team you can conduct real-time live streaming of captures to share information with other colleagues on network activity. If you wish to customize your experience then you can make use of external tool APIs to add additional features.

Kismet has a number of plugins available to expand on the basic product including Kestrel, IoD – Screwdriver, and Elkentaro’s Simplified Mobile Dashboard and ElKentaro’s Simplified Mobile Dashboard.

Who is it recommended for?

You need to be a highly trained technician to get the most out of Kismet. The tool is free to use and is also open source so you can reprogram it if you want to. The system is most useful if you can integrate it into a suite of tools to fully exploit its capabilities. The scanning activities of Kismet are difficult to detect and so it is frequently used by hackers.

Pros:

  • Available for Linux, Mac, and OpenBSD
  • Can scan for Bluetooth signals along with other wireless protocols outside of Wifi
  • Allows for real-time packet capture that can be forwarded to multiple team members
  • Uses plugins for additional features keeps the base installation lightweight
  • Free to use

Cons:

  • Designed for smaller networks
  • Lacks enterprise-level reporting capabilities
  • Reliant upon the open-source community for support and updates

Kismet can be downloaded for free.

2. wavemon

wavemon

wavemon is a free open source WiFi analyzing tool that allows users to monitor network devices on Linux. To use wavemon, you’ll need to enable wireless extensions. When using a kernel setup with CONFIG_CFG80211 you need to make sure that the CONFIG_CFG80211_WEXT package is activated. You will also want to make sure that you have the pkg-config package.

Key Features:

  • Open-source and customizable
  • Easy to install
  • Free to use

Why do we recommend it?

The wavemon system is an open-source project and although it is frequently updated, it is built by enthusiasts and does not come with a professional support package. The system is a command line utility so it doesn’t have the pleasing graphics of the other tools on this list. However, it can easily be integrated into scripts for coordination with other utilities.

Once you’ve done this the user experience is quite straightforward. wavemon uses autoconf so that you can make your way through the setup process promptly.

Who is it recommended for?

You certainly need to be an experienced network technician to fully exploit the features of wavemon. This system doesn’t have a graphical user interface and so non-technical users would find this free utility mystifying.

Pros:

  • Lightweight tool, great for resource-strapped system
  • Autoconf can help the user get started upon installation
  • Project is open-source

Cons:

  • Command-line interface, no GUI
  • Installation can be more complicated than similar tools
  • Lacks detailed visualization capabilities
  • Lacks advanced reporting features
  • Bug fixes and support is tied to the open-source community

The program is kept updated on Github so that you can add updates regularly. wavemon is available as source code from GitHub via this link here.

3. Sparrow-WiFi Analyzer

sparrow-wifi

Sparrow-WiFi Analyzer is a 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi and Bluetooth analyzer for Linux. The sparrow-wifi platform has been positioned as a more GUI-friendly replacement for other tools like inSSIDer and linssid. When using this WiFi analyzer you can conduct WiFi SSID identification and track WiFi sources.

Key Features:

  • WiFi and Bluetooth
  • Great graphs
  • GPS option

Why do we recommend it?

Sparrow-WiFi Analyzer is almost identical to Kismet, so it would be unfair to recommend that tool and not include Sparrow-WiFi Analyzer on the list. This system is open source and free to use, so you can adapt it if you want. The volunteer development team isn’t as active as the Kismet team and the code is getting a little dated.

The installation process for sparrow-wifi is very simple. On Debian, you will need qtchart and on Ubuntu and Linux you will need to enter a couple of commands to get running:

sudo apt-get install python3-pip gpsd gpsd-clients python3-tk python3-setuptools
sudo pip3 install QScintilla PyQtChart gps3 dronekit manuf python-dateutil numpy matplotlib

There is also the ability to use GPS to track SSID’s and Bluetooth devices. sparrow-wifi enables you to create Google maps that log these for you.

Who is it recommended for?

The target audience for Sparrow-WiFi Analyzer is the same group of technicians that would be interested in Kismet. You need to be knowledgeable about network packet structures and wireless protocols in order to get the best out of this system.

Pros:

  • Can scan and detect Bluetooth networks alongside WiFi
  • Offers a graphical interface, unlike some other Linux-only tools
  • Supports GPS tracking for more accurate mapping of devices and networks

Cons:

  • Interface is barebones and feels lacking at times
  • Is designed with more advanced users in mind

If you need to further analyze your WiFi results then you can also import and export data to CSV and JSON. If you’d like to download sparrow-wifi then you can do so from this link here.

The best WiFi analyzer apps for Android

1. farproc Wifi Analyzer

wifi analyzer

When it comes to wifi analyzers for Android devices, Wifi Analyzer is a name that keeps cropping up. With over 10,000,000 installs, this app is one of the most established wifi analyzers on the platform. Wifi Analyzer is adept at identifying nearby networks. The app will scan and create a visual representation of your WiFi signal.

Key Features:

  • Great visual representation
  • Shows signal strength
  • Detects all neady Apps
  • Free to use

Why do we recommend it?

Wifi Analyzer is an attractive tool that is kept free through the presence of advertising in the app. It is only available for Android, so although the title of this review includes a link, it will do you no good because you need to go to Google Play and search for the farproc tool in order to access it. The system asks for your permission to access location services on the phone. After that, it works very well.

This visual image is great for providing an overview of your local channels. As soon as you load up WiFi Analyzer you’re shown an image of nearby signals that allow you to identify over-saturated channels. This makes it much easier to spot a less congested channel and move accordingly.

Who is it recommended for?

This is a great tool for personal use. The fact that it runs on a mobile device means that in-house network technicians for any size of business would also find the tool useful. Support center technicians and managed service providers wouldn’t get any use out of the system because the sensors can’t be networked – you have to be in a location in person in order to monitor available WiFi signals.

Pros:

  • One of the easiest mobile apps on the market
  • Uses simple yet informative graphics to visualize neighboring networks, devices, and channel utilization
  • Is available for free
  • Good for quick on-site troubleshooting

Cons:

  • Includes ads in the app
  • Lacks enterprise reporting
  • Does not support long term monitoring

This effective app is available for free although you will have to tolerate some on-screen advertisements.

2. OpenSignal

OpenSignal

OpenSignal is one of the most versatile apps on this list. You can see your WiFi signal strength and coverage on a virtual display and run speed and latency tests. What really sets OpenSignal apart is its detailed maps system. You can view a map of WiFi hotspots and phone towers to see where network connection quality is best. It’s worth noting that the phone towers are shown only pertain to your telephone provider.

Key Features:

  • Plots WiFi signals on a real-world map
  • Monitors mobile signal as well
  • Free to use

Why do we recommend it?

The OpenSignal cellphone network analysis tool is a free gift from an industry consultancy. This utility doesn’t show you the wireless signals around you, rather it tests the wireless network that you are connected to. It is specifically designed for the analysis of wireless services on phones and it is also available for iOS. A great feature of this signal checker is a live map that shows the nearest cell towers of your phone network provider.

OpenSignal is the best choice for users looking to monitor both their wifi and mobile devices’ signal coverage. Of course, you can still generate extensive wireless network information if you are looking to stick to the fundamentals.

Who is it recommended for?

If you use your mobile data plan a lot and need to be sure that you are getting food service, this tool is for you. This is more appealing for personal users than businesses. One problem with this tool is that it gathers information about your cell phone and its usage even when you don’t have the app open. The company uses the free tool as a data gatherer for its cell market analysis activities, comparing live statistics of each phone operator with that provider’s claims.

Pros:

  • Can run latency and speed tests directly in the app
  • Can pull up a geographic map to find open networks and hotspots
  • Supports cellular network detection
  • Free with no ads

Cons:

  • Not an enterprise solution, more for quick on-site troubleshooting
  • Lacks long-term monitoring capabilities
  • Does not support a full-fledged desktop version

This app is also competitive in terms of price, being available for free with no onboard advertisements.

3. First Row Network Scanner

First Row Network Scanner

Network Scanner from First Row is a handy package of tools for examining wireless networks and the devices that connect to them. This tool shows you the other devices that are connected to the wireless network that your Android device is also connected to rather than showing all of the available access points in the area.

You don’t get signal strength meters or nice graphs with this tool. However, you do get details on each device, such as its manufacturer and its allocated IP address on the network.

Key Features:

  • Identifies nodes on a WiFi network
  • Lists device details
  • Offers a port scanner

Why do we recommend it?

Network Scanner doesn’t show you all the WiFi networks within range of your device. Instead, it focuses on the network that your device is connected to and identifies all of the other devices that are connected. This is a useful tool for company technicians or home users to detect rogue devices connected to the WiFi network.

The extra tools in with this scanner make this a wireless network troubleshooting toolkit. You can check on the speed of your network and move around the office looking for blindspots and weak signal areas. While network performance monitors tend to be hosted on desktops, the mobility afforded by the Android hosting of this system makes a better system for managing wireless signals.

Who is it recommended for?

This app is a great tool for home users and any on-site technician. Remote IT asset management teams won’t get any use out of this system. It should be used to work out where best to position wireless APs in a space to get maximum coverage and also make periodic checks on rogue devices, which, admittedly, could also be performed by remote monitoring systems.

Pros:

  • Helps with siting wireless APs in the best position
  • Shows all connected devices
  • Let’s you spot signal blindspots

Cons:

  • Doesn’t list all wireless networks in a space

This is a useful free tool for wireless network troubleshooting.

The best WiFi analyzer apps for iOS

The iOS operating system blocks access by apps to the WiFi processes or network connection hardware. That presents a big problem for the designers of wireless packet sniffers. However, some valiant system software producers have taken a shot at producing WiFi analyzers for iPhones and iPads. Check out the following options:

1. Network Analyzer

Network Analyzer screenshot

Network Analyzer does a good job of presenting network information within the constraints of the iOS operating system. The service is produced by Technet and is available in two versions. New users can only download and install the free editions, which is called Network Analyzer Lite.

Key Features:

  • Displays signal strength
  • Shows transmission times to nearby devices
  • Also shows cell networks
  • Free and paid versions

Why do we recommend it?

Network Analyzer from Jiri Techet is a neat little mobile app packs a punch because it can perform LAN network analysis as well as wireless signal tracking. There is a paid version available called Network Analyzer PRO. This tool is also available for Android.

The tool includes a Wi-Fi LAN scanner, which spots all network devices on a wireless network. The tool shows the round-trip response time to each detected device, using Ping. It can also deliver the IP address of each device and show the device’s location with a flag icon. The scan can also tell you the cell network details of each device within range and other wireless network data.

Who is it recommended for?

Network Analyzer is suitable for personal use. It could be used by a consultancy for quick network traceroute tests or local Wifi speed tests. It would also be a good tool for a small business.

Pros:

  • Comes in two versions, freeware and paid
  • Easy-to-use tests allow users to calculator latency, jitter, and response time with ease
  • Can track WLANs and external IP addresses
  • Supports cellular network statistics

Cons:

  • Dashboard couple be simplified to be easier to navigate
  • Could support layer 3 Netflow traffic

Once you have Network Analyzer Lite installed on your iPhone or iPad, you have the option to upgrade to the full version. Network Analyzer shows connection details with the route displayed on a world map. It will also give you network speeds to reach various locations around the world, not just ping details on your current wireless network.

2. Master Network Analyzer

Master Network Analyzer Pro

Master Network Analyzer detects details of the current wireless network that the iOS device is connected to and also offers a series of tests for the network and any connections made from the device.

Key Features:

  • Connection quality tests
  • Signal strength detection
  • Free to use

Why do we recommend it?

Master Network Analyzer is an attractive tool that offers performance tests and analysis for the wireless network that the host device is connected to rather than scanning all nearby networks. This tool isn’t available on the Apple Apps Store or on Google Play, so you have to get it from the producer’s website at the link in the title of this review.

The scanner details network information, such as the gateway IP address, DNS server IP address, the device’s allocated IP address on the network and the network’s IP address for the outside world. It will also show all other devices connected to the same wireless network and give information about each of those.

Analysis and connection testing utilities in the tool include ping, traceroute, a speed test, a DNS lookup, and a Whois feature.

Who is it recommended for?

Master Network Analyzer is a handy free tool for personal use and system administrators that manage a fleet of mobile devices could also use it to test that newly onboarded devices were functioning properly before handing them over to users.

Pros:

  • Has one of the better user interfaces for iOS wifi analyzer apps
  • Can full DNS, gateway, and IP address information from devices
  • Supports basic testing including whois lookups
  • Also available for Android

Cons:

  • Better suited for personal use
  • Lacks in-depth WiFi testing features

The Master Network Analyzer Pro tool is free to use and it is available for Android as well as for iOS. This app is probably more appropriate for personal use than for businesses. However, individuals in a business who need to travel to other sites and locations, such as sales agents of craftsmen, might find it useful.

3. Fing

Fing

The Fing app has been downloaded 40 million times and it is free to use. This is one of the most widely used wireless network monitoring tools available for iOS devices. The tool won’t scan for all wireless signals, just those devices that are connected to the same WiFi network that the host device is using.

Key Features:

  • Intrusion detection
  • Wireless router vulnerability scanning
  • Spots hidden cameras

Why do we recommend it?

Fing has a large user community, which is a good source of usage tips for new users. The service offers vulnerability scanning, which is a rare feature in on-device WiFi analyzers and is more commonly found in expensive network security packages. The security services of this tool are bundled in with troubleshooting systems, such as a speed test utility.

The unique features of Fing include a camera detector, so you can sweep your home or office for unknown spying devices – a crucial security step in these days of internet snooping and peepers.

Businesses can use a module of the package, called Fingbox, to ban devices from accessing offensive or leisure websites at work and it can also be used to log exactly who is on the business premises, which provides an automated timesheet checker.

Who is it recommended for?

Fing is a useful tool for both home use and for businesses. The Fingbox unit is more of a business tool because it provides controls over employees and their activities. However, the ability to ban access to types of websites is also useful as a parental control mechanism.

Pros:

  • Detect neighbors sneaking onto the network
  • Businesses can check on employee presence
  • WiFi network troubleshooting tools

Cons:

  • Only detects the network to which the device is connected

As a free tool, Fing is hard to beat. The service is ad-supported but you can get rid of that minor inconvenience by paying a small fee for the app.

WiFi Glossary

  • dBm – dBm stands for decibel-milliwatts. dBm is the measurement used to measure the strength of a WiFi signal.
  • IP Address – A unique number punctuated with full stops used to identify a computer communicating via a WiFi network.
  • MAC Address (Media Access Control Address) – A unique identifier used to refer to a network adapter over a network.
  • RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) – A measurement used to identify the strength of a radio signal.
  • Signal to Noise Ratio – The ratio of an electrical signal’s strength compared to outside interference.
  • SSID (Service Set Identifier) – The technical name for a WiFi network name.
  • Vendor – A wireless network provider.
  • WiFi Channels – A WiFi channel is where WiFi networks exchange data (Channels 6 and 11 are where most routers exchange data).
  • Wireless Access Point (WAP) – A hardware device or configured node on a local area network that allows wireless devices to connect through WiFi and Bluetooth connections.
  • WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) – A network that allows devices to connect, interact and communicate with each other wirelessly.

How to get a better signal and connection using a WiFi analyzer?

Whether you’re a home user or a battle-tested network administrator, a WiFi analyzer is a vital tool for managing your network. If you want to maintain the connection speed and integrity of your WiFi connection, then a WiFi analyzer app should be a high priority.

There are plenty of different options available on the market. If you want to have full WiFi coverage it’s a good idea to look for a model with an inbuilt heat map, as this is the most effective way to see a real-time depiction of your local signal strength.

Ultimately you’re looking for an app that’s easy to use and offers the functionality needed to achieve your needs. A home user might be able to scrape by on a free program, but an entire department will need a more powerful solution.

Taking some time to research the right tool for your business will allow you to optimize your online experience much more effectively. Whether you’re a home or enterprise user, doing your research is the key to finding the WiFi analyzer app that’s right for you.

WiFi Analyzer App FAQs

What are the best channels for my wireless router?

In the 2.4 GHz band, channels 1, 6, and 11are the best options for a router because they do not overlap with other channels.

What channel is best for 5GHz?

In the 5GHz band, channels 36, 40, 44, and 48 are reserved for domestic use and so do not overlap with bands used for commercial, weather, or military purposes.

Should a wifi extender be on the same channel?

Yes. You should have your WiFi extenders on the same channel as your router. However, to avoid confusion at times when you want to analyze signal strength give each extender a different SSID that is also different from the one assigned to the WiFi router.

WiFi Analyzer FAQs

What is the difference between a WiFi analyzer and a WiFi Signal Strength app?

A WiFi analyzer has more functions than just displaying signal strength. A signal strength app will show you the strength of the signal for the channel to which you are connected. A WiFi analyzer shows all networks currently within range for a specific spectrum. That means, once you have selected whether to analyze the 2.4 GHz band or the 5 GHz band, the analyzer identifies all transmitting wireless access points nearby. It will show all available channels for each and the signal strength of each channel.

What is the best WiFi Analyzer app for iPhone?

Try one of the following WiFi analyzers for iPhone:

  • NetSpot for iOS
  • WiFi Analyzer by Master App Solution
  • Network Analyzer by Technet
  • Wi-Fi SweetSpots
  • Scany

What is the best WiFi Analyzer for Android?

Try one of the following WiFi analyzers for Android:

  • NetSpot for Android
  • WiFi Monitor
  • OpenSignal
  • Network Signal Info
  • ScanFi

What do WiFi Analyzer apps tell you?

WiFi analyzer apps scan the environment to discover the signals that are of sufficient strength to be picked up by a receiver. The analyzer then gathers the identifiers for those signals, which are called SSIDs, or Service Set Identifiers. It then displays the signals arriving from each WiFi access point, displaying its available channels and the signal strength of each.

Is there an app to test WiFi signal strength?

There are many apps to test WiFi signal strength, these are written to work with specific operating systems, so there will be a different list for each. Check out the Airport Utility App for iOS devices, or Wi-Fi Analyzer for Android. All WiFi enabled devices have their own built-in WiFi signal strength detectors for the current connection. These show a ripple of bars in a quarter circle or a cone, In either design, the outer areas of the icon light up when the WiFi signal gets stronger.

How can I make my WiFi signal stronger?

To improve the strength of WiFi signal that your device receives:

  • Move closer to your WiFi access point
  • Get a WiFi router with a stronger transmitter
  • Install a WiFi booster
  • Turn off smart devices that constantly access the WiFi system to reduce congestion
  • Switch to a different WiFi channel
  • Switch to a faster WiFi standard – e.g. a 5 GHz system

See also: The Best WiFi Stumblers