Written by Ronald Lye
Setting up your Wi-Fi network can be a pain. Which area in the house has the best connection? Where is the ideal location to place your modem? Are the thick walls and clutter in your room interfering with your connection? These are just some of the common questions people have about their Wi-Fi networks. In this digital age, connection speed is everything. Millenials today have short attention spans and high expectations regarding all things technology, leading to a demand for power internet connections. Gaming, Skyping, streaming, and even plain old-fashioned web surfing, requires a powerful Wi-Fi connection to be truly enjoyable. There are always tools and upgrades that can be purchased to boost your connection speed, but why spend money when you can simply do a bit of re-arranging to get the most out of your network? NetSpot is a free app (it has Pro and Enterprise versions for businesses as well) which allows you to analyse and pin-point optimal Wi-Fi locations in your home, by using your Mac as the survey tool.
Before you start scanning, you need to load the floor plan of the area, or use NetSpot’s drawing tools to illustrate a rough map. When that’s done, walk around the area with your Mac. When you decide on the exact space you wish to scan, click the corresponding point on the map. You can mark and scan as many spots as you want. The more spots, the more accurate the results. After you finish scanning the area, clicking the Stop Scan button will bring up the analysis. It may be a little confusing at first, but you should be able to figure out what everything means within a few tries. The analysis is presented in a colour-spectrum heat map, in which the indigo end represents the weakest connection, and the red end represents the strongest.
If a particular area is giving you connectivity issues, NetSpot can help troubleshoot. It will help determine the problem based on heat map visualisations separated into these categories: Issues with SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio), Low Level Signal, High Noise Level, Overlapping Channels, and Low Download Rates. This is a particularly useful function, given how unstable Wi-Fi connections can be. But unfortunately this option is only available for Pro and Enterprise users.
So what’s in the PRO version?
Certainly, there is more in store for the PRO version. Instead of 50 data points only per project in the FREE VERSION, you can now have unlimited data points across all your zone snapshots in the PRO VERSION. You will also be glad that there is configurable survey autosaving in the PRO VERSION, so you don’t have to worry about making sure if the Save button was pressed. One thing that would probably put a smile on your face is that, in the PRO VERSION, multiple export features are supported, including new customizable advanced one. This will certainly enable you to view data without having to turn on this app. Furthermore, transfer data from one project to another project is now possible with the PRO VERSION. At only USD149, you can do so much more.
In the latest version of NetSpot PRO, new visualizations have been added for Frequency Band Coverage and PHY Mode (a/b/g/n) Coverage. You will also have the flexibility to perform Advanced Export which allows you to generate professional reports with the ability to completely customize the networks, zones, and visualizations included.
The Bottom Line
Who knew that Wi-Fi analysis would become so complex? Performance speed is greatly valued and desired by almost every connected consumer nowadays, and these demands have resulted in more sophisticated programmes and apps to measure connectivity. NetSpot may take some getting used to, but once you get the hang out it, you’ll value its accuracy and methodical way of presenting vital data. The free version should suffice for most users, but if you’re a business owner who is dependent on strong Wi-Fi connections for work purposes, it may be worth paying for the Pro or Enterprise versions.