5 low-cost Wi-Fi stumblers and analyzers

Wi-Fi stumblers and analyzers are a must-have when troubleshooting Wi-Fi interference and performance issues, or when checking channel usage.

wifi stumbler analyzers under 100 1

Stumblers and analyzers

Wi-Fi stumblers and analyzers are a must-have when troubleshooting Wi-Fi interference and performance issues, or when checking channel usage. They’re also needed for Wi-Fi site surveys and for security audits to look for rogue or misconfigured APs. Each of these five tools gives you the basic wireless details of nearby APs, including SSIDs, signal strength, channels, MAC addresses, and security status. Most can also reveal “hidden” or non-broadcasted SSIDs. Some offer additional functionality, such raw 802.11 packet capturing, frame statistics, performance testing, and map-based surveying. (Read the full product review.)

ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD: 7 free Wi-Fi stumbling and surveying tools

wifi stumbler analyzers under 100 2

inSSIDer 4

MetaGeek provides a handful of Wi-Fi surveying, troubleshooting, and optimization tools. The inSSIDer 4 Wi-Fi stumbler, available for both Windows and Mac OS X, is priced at $19.99. If you’re looking for something really simple, this is it. It’s user-friendly, gives you channel recommendations and helps identify interfering APs. However, it doesn’t offer any saving or exporting. If you’re looking for something more advanced, particularly with the ability to detect non-802.11 interference, take a look at the inSSIDer Office edition. It comes with the Wi-Spy adapter to take full RF spectrum measures with inSSIDer in the Wi-Fi bands.

Acrylic WiFi Professional

Acrylic WiFi Professional

Tarlogic Security offers Acrylic WiFi Professional, a Wi-Fi stumbler and analyzer that supports packet capturing and password cracking, regularly priced at $26.99. Acrylic WiFi Professional is a great option for more advanced wireless technicians since it can show the raw 802.11 frames, aid in penetration testing of Wi-Fi security, and even show the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) values of the APs. However, entry-level techs might be turned off by the lack of help and documentation.

NetSurveyor Professional

NetSurveyor Professional

NetSurveyor Professional is just one wireless tool of many provided by Nuts About Networks. Priced at $34, it provides the Wi-Fi scanning functionality from their free edition, while adding performance testing features. They offer a fully functional trial, but you’re limited to opening the application 10 times If you want to check the Wi-Fi performance or prefer a stumbler that can generate reports, consider NetSurveyor Professional. However, since it doesn’t provide full channel or security details and doesn’t offer graphs for 5GHz, it’s not the best tool for general surveying.

WirelessMon

WirelessMon

WirelessMon is a Wi-Fi stumbler that also offers basic integrated map-based surveying and RF spectrum scanning with Wi-Spy. It is provided in a few different editions by PassMark, which offers other general computer testing tools and is the host of many popular hardware benchmark databases. They offer a free limited edition for up to 30 days, Pro edition ($49) with all functionality, and then a Standard edition ($24) without the GPS or mapping capabilities. However, keep in mind that detecting non-802.11 signals or interference does require the Wi-Spy RF spectrum adapter.

Wi-Fi Scanner

Wi-Fi Scanner

Wi-Fi Scanner is from LizardSystems. It serves as a basic Wi-Fi stumbler and gives detailed connection stats, which can also be used for troubleshooting. After a 30-day evaluation period, you can register for the free Basic edition with the connection statistic functionality disabled. The full Standard edition costs $79.95. When you open the app, you’re met with an attractive and user-friendly GUI. You can see the list of SSIDs and you can easily filter the list based upon signal quality, network type, security type, and wireless band. Though it distinguishes between PSK and Enterprise security and recognizes larger channel-widths, it doesn’t fully support 802.11ac.