Best Free Wi-Fi Network Finder Utility

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Introduction

The most normal use of a WiFi network is probably your personal wireless network at home. You set up your router, assign a wireless SSID and the encryption and you know what to configure on your computer. Those more mobile computer users, however, will often run into locations where they would like to see what wireless networks are available. Some Hotels for example provide several access points depending on the size of their premises. Which one has the strongest signal? Or you may wonder what is the SSID of the access point in the coffee shop that just opened around the corner? Wirelss monitors can also help to identify competing networks on the wireless channels so you will be able to make a more educated decision about changing your channel.

A WiFi network finder software will answer these questions. Compare it to a radio that is receiving all wireless signals and displays that information to you. There are some good commercial products out there, many laptops come with an OEM product, but there are also some free contenders in this category.

 

Rated Products

NetSurveyor  

Free and versatile WiFi analyzer


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free
Many features, great GUI for big screen monitoring
Window cannot be resized
Read full review...

Xirrus WiFi Inspector  

Find detailed information about wireless networks in your vicinity


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Many features, compact overview
Outdated GUI, not configurable
Read full review...

 

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Comments

Yeah, I do not like the ads also. I found the last official version though. If you google for "inssider 2.1.6.1394" you will find it.

Xirrus has a bug for me. While clicking on the x in the right upper corner to close the program I am getting a fatal error. Another alternative called fing does not seem to see my wireless card and is console based only. Maybe Vistumbler is another alternative, but I guess I stick with inSSIDer 2.1.6.

Edith says: Someone please move this as a reply to george on my other post. I clicked the wrong button I guess.

You can get version 3.1.2.1 of inSSIDer here: http://www.softpedia.com/get/Network-Tools/Network-IP-Scanner/InSSIDer.s... I don't understand why Softpedia still has that version but you shouldn't really complain - just get it fast.

Maybe Amped Wireless Wifi Analytics Tool could also be tested. http://www.ampedwireless.com/wifianalytics/

Edith: It seems to be a rebranded version of metageeks inssider. Also inssider 3 itself is still available for download, but not developed anymore.
http://www.metageek.net/support/metageek-software-archives/

Thanks for the note. Indeed it is a fork of the MetaGeek tool. I tried both, on Android and PC and was not convinced by it. The wireless information might be useful, after you find it between all the advertisement. Too much for my taste. On Android it does not support landscape format. Not sure why. On PC half of the screen is cluttered with ads. Not a tool I want to review here for that reason. Best regards, George

Maybe I have missed something -- not an uncommon occurrence. but...

I went to the inSSIDer link above and they have relocated. The new site has a one paragraph blurb followed by a "Buy Now" button. If they are still providing freeware, it doesn't seem to be via this link.
I went to the Xirrus link and there is download link but it's blocked until you fill some info including your company name. Perhaps I should have made up a company name but I got the feeling that as an individual consumer, I'm not in their target clientele.
The NetSurveyor link goes a a series of seven screens that pump their product and offer technical information before you finally arrive at a download link. It does download and install easily. Perhaps the reason for burying the link so far down is they want you to read the material and have some vague notion of what you're doing before you run the tool. On that theory, I will read it before actually using it. I'm not complaining since they are the only one of the three who appear still to be providing freeware.

Thank you, Dragonscribe for spotting this. In fact, inSSIDer went commercial now is not available for free anymore. The guys at Metageek decided to switch to a paid product. See also this forum post about it: http://forums.inssider.com/showthread.php?7463-InSSIDer-no-longer-free&p... And right you are as well that NetSurveyor changed their website. You can find the download link at the bottom of the home page or on the product's page itself. I updated the links to it in the Quick Selection Guide. Best regards, George

Please excuse my ignorance, but I don't understand the benefit these softwares give compared to the standard built-in windows Wi-Fi network finder/manager...

Hi ElRicou, in fact, if you are just interested in the broadcasted SSIDs around you to find one you want to connect to, then Windows built in network list will show you those. The benefit of these programs here lies in the additional information of such wireless networks that might be interesting to you for quite different reasons. Information like channel, MAC address, encryption and other details will be shown by these programs. E.g. how many networks are already operating on channel 11? It came in handy for me once when I had to find possible reasons for interferences in my network connection. I ended up using a different channel after that. Signal strength is also shown more granular than Windows displays it. But it surely is an advanced application of network information that you barely need on a day to day basis. Best regards, George

Hi George
Thanks for this swift and clear answer, I get the picture ☺
keep up the good work!
Best regards
Ricou