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10 Handy WiFi Troubleshooting Tools

If you need help troubleshooting your wireless networks, here are 10 tools that can help uncover WiFi problems. Bonus: Some are free!
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Wireless networks are valued by end users for their convenience and ease-of-use. But behind every seamlessly operating wireless network out there in the enterprise, there is likely more than one networking guru who has pulled their hair out ensuring the WLAN simply works.

If you're looking for ways to streamline your WiFi operations, we've got 10 tools that help track down channel conflicts, find rogue WLANs, perform network diagnostics, and more. These WiFi troubleshooting tools and utilities are designed to help make the process of WLAN management easier for the IT staff charged with keeping wireless users happy and productive.

Most IT pros are familiar with the classic free NetStumbler utility, which can be used to detect 802.11 a/b/g WLANs and can help in the verification of configuration and identifying weak signals within a wireless network. While other tools have refined the discovery process, NetStumbler still remains a valid option for network administrators. But there are a lot of other WiFi troubleshooting tools out there worth checking out, and some -- like NetStumbler -- are even free.

 

 

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

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Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Strategist
11/25/2014 | 8:48:13 AM
Re: Kismet
Martin, thanks for all the feedback on these tools. The descriptions provided on the site are not very detailed and we admit that the free version of a tool will sometimes be lacking. Do you use all of these tools in your daily work?
MartinE1952
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MartinE1952,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2014 | 7:18:52 AM
Kismet
"Unlike NetStumbler, Kismet finds networks by listening to beacon transmissions from APs instead of broadcasting for SSID, making it possible to find rogue networks that are hiding their SSIDs."

 

Thi is an incorrect description of the function.
MartinE1952
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MartinE1952,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2014 | 7:16:52 AM
Ekahau Heatmapper
Can not be used for planning and does not allow you to save the result. You have to get the big tool for this.

Planning requires that the tools know about the walls in teh environment which you can not add in heatmapper.
MartinE1952
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MartinE1952,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2014 | 7:14:05 AM
Wireshark
REquies special USB-adapters to get all WiFI packets. They are not cheap.
MartinE1952
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MartinE1952,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2014 | 7:12:39 AM
Inssider by Metageek
Not a free tool anymore!
@david__allen
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@david__allen,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2014 | 1:16:28 PM
Re: other tools?
@Pablo This is the issue here in the UK too, the carriers concentrate on where the money is first while everyone else has to wait for decent service.
Pablo Valerio
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Pablo Valerio,
User Rank: Author
9/29/2014 | 5:05:05 PM
Re: other tools?
@david, I remember a similar situation 30mi outside of Boston. The cell operators were not interested because of the limited number of customers.

Also the maximun DSL speed was 2 mbps, Now Verizon has launched FTTC and the situation is much better
aditshar1
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aditshar1,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2014 | 3:22:49 PM
Re: other tools?
I have not used such tools, although i have used build in wifi scanning tool for smartphone and laptop. Apart from this i guess when you access wifi at public places where internet is free you hardly get speed which is makes situation even more frustating.
@david__allen
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@david__allen,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2014 | 2:42:21 PM
Re: other tools?
That tool looks interesting @Marcia I am going to check that out right now!
@david__allen
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@david__allen,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2014 | 2:39:37 PM
Re: other tools?
@PabloValerio this is a big problem here in the UK, we have so many different services all running at different speeds. In rural England there are some places still using dial up as well as there being no mobile phone network. In some cases its a complete nightmare, even where I live the mobile phone signal is available one minute and unavailable the next.
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