6 useful Wi-Fi tools for Windows

Free or cheap apps can help troubleshoot your wireless network, turn your laptop into a hot spot and more

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Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector

This is another excellent program that sniffs out Wi-Fi networks and shares pertinent information about them, such as how close or far away they are. Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector shows any nearby hot spots on a radar-like display. A separate pane offers detailed information about every hot spot it finds, including signal strength, the kind of network (802.11n, for example), the router vendor, the channel on which the network transmits and whether it's an access point or an ad hoc network.

In a pane next to the radar, Wi-Fi Inspector shows you even more detailed information about the network to which you're currently connected, including your internal IP address, external IP address, DNS and gateway information, and so on.

Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector
Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector uses a radar-like interface to show you information about nearby hot spots.

Why use Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector rather than MetaGeek's InSSIDer? Wi-Fi Inspector's simpler, cleaner layout makes it easier to see information about all of the hot spots at a glance. It also shows the relative physical distance between you and each hot spot on its display. And there's no denying the overall coolness factor of a radar-like display.

However, if you want more detailed information, including the relative signal strengths of all nearby wireless networks, InSSIDer is a better bet.

Price: Free
Compatible with: Windows XP SP2+, Vista and 7
Download Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector

 

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