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8 free Wi-Fi stumbling and surveying tools for Windows and Mac

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The Scan utility is a simple Wi-Fi stumbler, showing the usual details of detected networks along with a summary of network types and best channels. One major advantage is that it shows the noise levels of the Wi-Fi channels, which most Windows stumblers don’t show. However, it would be nice if it would show all the channels used by SSIDs that are utilizing larger channel-widths instead of just showing the channel-widths and center channel.

The Info utility shows current network connection and signal details. The Logs utility allows configuring Wi-Fi, EAPOL and Bluetooth diagnostic logging. The Performance utility shows line graphs of the signal and noise, signal quality and data rate of the current connection. The Sniffer utility allows capturing the raw wireless packets, and can export into a third-party packet analyzer.

The Wireless Diagnostics utilities of Mac OS X is quite impressive compared to the wireless tools provided by Microsoft in the Windows OSes. You always have a Wi-Fi stumbler (which even shows noise levels) and packet-capture abilities, and their Assistant troubleshooting wizard seems smart. However, it’s lacking a channel usage graph to visualize the Wi-Fi channels.

For more info, Apple provides a great tour and tutorial on Wireless Diagnostics.

(Eric Geier is a freelance tech writer—keep up with his writings on Facebook or Twitter. He’s also the founder of NoWiresSecurity providing a cloud-based Wi-Fi security service, and Wi-Fi Surveyors providing RF site surveying.)

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