Managing a wireless network can be a tedious affair. And moving hardware around a room to solve slow speeds or disconnects is often a frustrating, trial-and-error experience. However, the process doesn’t have to be so difficult. NetSpot is a user-friendly program that not only cleanly presents Wi-Fi statistics without being obtuse but can survey a location to display incredibly useful heat maps of network performance.
NetSpot features two modes of operation, both of which are relatively easy to use. Discover mode provides a quick view of accessible networks. Information is listed horizontally in a table, such as SSID, MAC address, signal strength, the current frequency band and channel, router vendor, security, and more. You can even dive into several graphs to see how the strength of your network changes over time. Discover mode was a wonderful way to determine whether my neighbors were occupying the same channels – think of them like lanes on a highway – or to confirm whether the microwave was indeed the culprit of my disconnects.
Networking knowledge assists to understand what’s being shown, but NetSpot doesn’t leave the unfamiliar wholly blind. The User Guide option opens a help page that I found incredibly handy to refresh myself on various terms, as well as how to use the application’s more advanced offerings.
The second mode is used for more thorough planning and troubleshooting. Surveys used to map a Wi-Fi network’s coverage of an area. I didn’t find the ability to draw a blueprint within the Windows version, but it’s possible to specify dimensions using blank zone or load an image. Clicking on the map then scans that point and places a circular heat map around it. As you move around scanning additional points, you’ll build a visualization of your network displaying locations of strength and weakness. Furthermore, you can create multiple copies of a zone to re-survey and build a baseline of network behavior. These “snapshots” are renamable and lined up in tabs in an open project. The only downside to surveying is that you need to be mobile, meaning carting around a desktop from room to room isn’t very practical.
NetSpot is an excellent piece of a software for gauging the health of a Wi-Fi network. It’s accessible yet robust, providing information in but a glance. I’m particularly impressed with its survey feature. It’s quite a bit more fun to evaluate performance over a time and distance visually rather than digging into ping records. If you’re serious about networking, NetSpot is worth a download.
A copy of NetSpot Pro edition was provided for this review. A free edition is available for download. Home, Pro, and Enterprise editions are purchasable for $49, $149, and $499 respectively at the following website: https://www.netspotapp.com/