If you need to diagnose your intermittent WiFi connectivity or plan for a new rollout of access points, you’ll need a WiFi analyzer. This post lists 8 of the best WiFi analyzers on the market today.
Here is our list of the best WiFi Analyzers for Windows Networks:
- SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (FREE TRIAL) The feature-filled enterprise-level solution with integrated control for your wireless network to speed up diagnosis and configuration.
- Netspot Unparalleled WiFi analysis with full heatmap support and an incredible depth of features for a competitive price. The flexible business model means you will undoubtedly find a solution perfect for your administration needs, regardless of the scale of your network.
- InSSIDer In-depth WiFi analysis with real-time graphing and performance monitoring, especially built with WiFi troubleshooting in mind.
- Acrylic Wi-Fi Rugged yet straightforward WiFi analysis with a modular product lineup that can expand on the basic features provided by the relatively low-cost vanilla product.
- AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer A full-featured enterprise-level network monitoring suite with WiFi analysis capabilities, held back somewhat by an older interface and a steep price.
- WiFi Commander A WiFi analysis application turns diagnosis into a visual spectacle by providing impressive and fully interactable 3D visuals.
- WiFi Analyzer A free, barebones solution built primarily for phones and tablets but perfect for budget WiFi analysis and diagnosis.
- Wireshark An open-source packet analysis tool that can technically be used as a WiFi analysis tool with some know-how and patience.
WiFi analyzers are crucial for any network administrator who handles multiple access points. They scan your surroundings and build up a map of your network to help you visualize your WiFi coverage. Some of the best WiFi analyzers provide this information in the form of a literal map, called a heatmap, that can be a vital tool for planning out expansions to your wireless network, or detecting holes in your coverage.
Visualization is an essential function of WiFi analyzers and is a significant contributor to the following WiFi analyzers listed. Fault assistance is also necessary, allowing an administrator to skip complex diagnosis procedures and identify what is going wrong with their wireless network.
This article looks at eight different WiFi analyzers and gives our recommendations based on the scope of your network administration needs. From free options to enterprise-level solutions, you’ll find the right tool to help you configure and maintain your wireless network.
The Best WiFi Analyzers for Windows Networks
The SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor includes complete WiFi network analysis as part of its suite of tools. As a result, the software is perfect for WiFi network integration and management while providing comprehensive WiFi monitoring tools. In addition, the network performance monitor provides excellent troubleshooting capabilities, such as allowing you to scan for WiFi availability and speeds across individual WAPs.
The software also provides a massive amount of graphical functionality, including full network map rendering and heatmap visualization, much like what is available with Netspot. In addition, if combined with the SolarWinds Orion platform, network metadata is updated automatically as access points are identified while performing diagnosis.
- WiFi integration and control
- Heatmapping and visualizations
- SolarWinds Orion integration
- WiFi troubleshooting
- Performance monitoring and comparison
The SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor starts at $1,700, but you’ll need to contact SolarWinds directly for a quote based on your specific network administration needs.
You can try SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor through a free and fully functional 30-day trial.
Netspot is undoubtedly the best choice for a complete WiFi diagnosis of your premises, regardless of scale. The system’s Discovery mode can provide a detailed analysis of all nearby WiFi networks, while the Survey mode is the biggest draw for the software. By allowing you to add a personal image of your premises’ floor plan, you can overlay a WiFi detection heatmap to provide accurate and readable data on your exact WiFi coverage.
Netspot also excels in its flexible business model. There are four available options for you to choose from, which scale based on your network administration needs. Both the Free and Home versions only provide a 1 personal use one license, but function well enough for testing or if you’re simply after a WiFi analyzer for personal use. The Pro and Enterprise options expand on the existing systems by allowing for more zones and data points.
The software has inbuilt troubleshooting to assist in fixing any WiFi complaints you might be receiving from your users, which is especially useful when you need to identify where to place any new WAPs.
- Flexible business model
- Heatmap overlays for excellent visualization
- WiFi network discovery
- Inbuilt troubleshooting
- Variety of survey data types
Netspot has a full Free version available for personal use. There’s also a Home version available for $49, with a lifetime license upgrade for an additional $19, though again, the Home version is for personal use only.
The Pro version massively expands on the available features and adds a 50 zone limit, with 500 data points per zone. It costs $149, with a lifetime license upgrade for an additional $49, though a free trial is available for the Pro version that lasts for 7-days.
Finally, an Enterprise version for $499, with a lifetime license upgrade for an additional $199. The Enterprise version simply removes all zone/data point limits and is recommended if you plan to exceed the 50 zone limit.
Netspot also offers a ‘company-wide license if more than ten employees need access to the software. Of course, this is typically only necessary if you provide on-the-road support for numerous sites with multiple employees diagnosing WiFi systems. Still, it speaks to the flexibility that Netspot offers its customers.
Similar to Netspot in terms of functionality and flexibility, MetaGeek provides various software options under the InSSIDer product line available for home, business, and enterprise scaling.
The software provides real-timeLike WiFi visualizations and numerous graphs and statistics to help you determine signal strength, transfer speeds, security, and other helpful information. For example, allowing you to compare signal overlap is beneficial when troubleshooting WiFi connection issues. In addition, it provides live diagnosis tools with ‘observations’, practical configuration tips to help you get the most out of your network.
- Numerous graphical outputs
- Network troubleshooting via ‘observations’
- Signal overlap detection
- Security diagnosis
- Flexible business model
MetaGeek has a simple home version available called Signify, which has a 14-day free trial and costs $30 for an annual license. However, the business and enterprise options can get a bit confusing. You can download InSSIDer for free, which is perfect for testing out the software. Still, it lacks much of the functionality you likely require as a network administrator without a proper license.
The MetaGeek Plus license unlocks the expected capabilities of the software and costs $100 per year. In addition, you can expand the software’s functionality by upgrading your license to the Pro version for $200 per year. MetaGeek Plus and Pro also have a 14-day free trial available.
Interestingly, instead of offering an Enterprise option for InSSIDer, they provide various alternative software options – from Signify Business to Chanalyzer. Still, these options are likely only necessary if WiFi diagnosis is a core function of your business.
Acrylic Wi-Fi is a simple solution that provides rugged WiFi network testing tools that get the job done. Unfortunately, it lacks visuals compared to several other solutions higher on this list. Still, the software manages to supply a functional set of useful metrics that you can use to diagnose and plan your WiFi architecture.
Acrylic has packaged several optional functions as different products are available for purchase. For example, custom storm heatmapping is known as its product and in-depth network packet sniffing and Wireshark integration. This flexible offering of functions helps customize your solution. Still, many of the optional features are included as-is in other products, without the need for additional purchasing – this means Acrylic WiFi is probably only worth considering if you don’t need the full functionality of other WiFi analyzers software.
- Simple WiFi analysis
- Monitoring for neighboring WiFi
- Modular product lineup
- Unlimited devices (on Professional version)
- Granular device troubleshooting
Acrylic Wi-Fi has a free Home version available for personal use. The Professional license costs $20 for a year or $40 for a permanent license for a single user.
As mentioned, much of the additional functionality is available as separate modular products. For example, heatmaps cost $880 for an entire year or $2200 for a permanent license. Sniffer (which expands on the packet sniffing and monitoring functions) costs $100 for a year or $220 for a permanent license. As you can see from comparing the available options, while the Professional support is on the cheaper side, it’s only really worth considering if you don’t necessarily need the Heatmapping or Sniffer functions.
One of the older solutions on this list but still a reliable solution. The AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer comes with various performance monitoring and network interference detection tools that keep the software competitive despite its age. In addition, a fully customizable dashboard and real-time WiFi analysis suite function well as a network monitoring tool.
However, its age shows in two distinct areas: the interface and the price. The software’s interface works well for its purpose, but it lacks the professional shine of more modern solutions. Additionally, the license cost reflects the age of the product – when the AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer was in its prime, and it served as a premium-tier product. At the same time, now it has multiple competitors that have surpassed it. Despite this, the interface needs modernization, and the license price is far from competitive.
This might still be the option for your enterprise-level network administration needs, especially if you have the budget and are interested in a network monitoring suite in addition to a complete WiFi analysis tool.
- WiFi network monitoring suite
- Fully customizable interface
- Interference detection tools
- Performance graphing
- Health snapshots for diagnosis
The AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer PRO is available from several resellers with an average price of around $3800, making it probably the most expensive solution on this list. Unfortunately, there’s no trial available, but they offer a free demo available on the website.
WiFi Commander is a low-cost application developed primarily for mobile, but it has complete functionality for any Windows device. In addition, it serves as a well-developed WiFi analyzer with accurate data graphing showing a variety of network metrics.
Where WiFi Commander excels above all other WiFi analysis tools is the rendering of such graphics, allowing you to create impressive 3D models that are fully interactable. As a result, WiFi Commander behaves more like a toy than a professional application, letting you play around with numerous kinds of data visualizations. At the same time, you diagnose your network – it especially shines with touch-screen support since you can rotate and zoom into your graphs with a simple finger swipe.
While it is impressive to look at and fun to play around with for an afternoon, there are more feature-complete solutions on this list that likely cater to your network administration needs more professionally.
- Impressive 3D visuals
- Wide data set coverage
- Real-time scanning
- Small installation size
WiFi Commander is available to download from the Microsoft Store, and has a free trial available for 30-days. After that, the software costs $5 for a permanent installation.
WiFi Analyzer is a completely free application developed primarily for windows phones, but much like WiFi Commander, it has decent functionality for any Windows device. The software lacks special features but is elegant in its simplicity, providing overlapping network graphics that show various performance and connectivity metrics.
This solution is probably only suited to those with smaller networks of a handful of access points, but considering the surprising robustness of a completely free program, it’s worth considering. Though be aware that the software is only available through the Microsoft store and is only functional on Windows 10 devices.
- Completely free, with premium features
- Built for Windows mobile
- Simple but functional interface
- Connectivity metrics
- Network scanning
The WiFi Analyzer is free to download from the Microsoft store. The software also has a few premium options available when you upgrade, including features such as a signal strength beeper and in-depth network filtering.
While not technically a Wifi analyzer, many industry professionals are very familiar with the various functions of Wireshark, and it can serve as a rudimentary (compared to the other options on this list) Wifi analysis solution.
Since Wireshark is a packet analyzer, you can use it to effectively determine the performance of your access points by measuring response times between each node. This method is the more detailed manual solution to WiFi analysis. Still, most self-respecting network administrators will already have Wireshark installed and ready to go, making it the quickest solution.
You’ll need to have a decent grasp of Wireshark’s toolset before you can approach this method confidently, but if you have the know-how already, this might be the solution for you.
- Completely free
- Packet analysis the primary purpose
- Small installation size
- Open-source development
- Steeper learning curve
Wireshark is entirely free to download and is open-source, meaning there might be options to expand on its WiFi analysis abilities – for example, Acrylic Wi-Fi has full Wireshark integration available.
We covered a range of helpful WiFi analyzer tools available on the market regardless of your wireless network scope and administration budget.
You may consider some of the free tools available such as the WiFi Analyzer, or you may be drawn to the cheap but functional solutions such as the WiFi Commander. Alternatively, if you’re in charge of an enterprise-level wireless network, you may be inclined to look into solutions such as Netspot or the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor.
Ultimately, we suggest you check out the free trials available for these solutions to find the best option for you. WiFi analyzers are heavily dependent on the visual experience, and you’ll undoubtedly have your personal preferences for which solution matches your taste. Often, especially in the case of a new wireless network rollout, you may even be able to fully kit out your business premises with a full suite of access points while working within the trial period – saving yourself in the short term.