inSSIDer – A great FREE tool for Network Admins

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If you are a Network Admin, you’ve been there – trying to diagnose problems with the wireless network, signal strength in the office or possible interference from other networks.  The problem being, what tools are out there that can help you diagnose issues, yet not break the budget.

Enter inSSIDer for Home– a Wi-Fi discovery tool that is a must for everyone’s IT Toolbox.

Developed by metageek in 2008, this easy to use (and FREE) utility allows you to

  • Measure Wi-Fi Signal Strength
  • Identify channel usage and visualize other networks that might be causing interference
  • Helps determine Security Settings being used by networks

Some other useful features include:

  • Cumulative Station list, so even stations which are only occasionally within reach are shownimage
  • Channel graphs give a visual representation of crowded bands. Separate tabs for the 2.4 and 5 GHZ Channels
  • Filters that allow the (focused) display of several specific network features such as  signal strength, mac addresses, SSID, network speed and/or device manufacturer.

A real world application for this software would be placement of a wireless device in you office.  You can position the device and then test signal strengths from various points throughout the office.  When mapped to a floor plan, you can establish the footprint of the access point or router.   This type of diagramming can really come in handy when guests are in the office and having access problems or when placing repeaters to expand the network access.

Further setup/troubleshooting benefits could come from inSSIDer’s ability to track the ID of the Wi-Fi Channels.  In the US, there are 11 Channels in use – with 1, 6 and 11 being the most recommended (because the they do not overlap).  By using the visual interface, you can quickly determine how congested various channels are, and adjust your network accordingly for optimized performance.

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How about an internal Security Systems Audit?  With this software, you can quickly identify the type of Wireless Security in play, the MAC Addresses of the device (for documentation and verification) and even the 802.11 network type – all without any special setup or software configuration.

Of course, one can always want more features – and MetaGeek has created inSSIDer Office for just that purpose.  If you like the Home version, I highly suggest you check it (and their other products) out as well.

In summation – when it comes to “Free” tools, many are easily overlooked as their usefulness is often in question.  That cannot be said for inSSIDer Home.  It is definitely a product that fills a very important niche, and should make any Tech/Network Admin’s job that much easier.  Well done MetaGeek – Well Done!

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