Use your Android as a Wi-Fi optimizer

Optimize your wireless Internet connection with the WiFi Analyzer app for Android.

Optimize your wireless Internet connection with the WiFi Analyzer app for Android. For those of you who may not be networking wizards, this app provides a relatively easy way to analyze the strength of different wireless channels, so you can figure out which to choose for your router.

Before using WiFi Analyzer, you must first understand what a Wi-Fi channel is. A Wi-Fi channel is a range of radio frequencies that a Wi-Fi network uses to communicate with wireless devices. There are a finite number of accessible channels, so when several Wi-Fi networks occupy a small area, channels will often get overloaded, and that's bad. Keep in mind, some routers can autoscan for the best available channel. So if you have one of those, this app may not be as critical for you.

WiFi Analyzer offers five different ways to view wireless channels (some more valuable than others): Channel graph, Time graph, Channel rating, AP list, and Signal meter. To quickly switch between views, simply swipe left or right on your screen. Unfortunately, the different views are not labeled, so at first, it will probably take you a few minutes to figure out exactly what you're looking at. The app is not terribly difficult to use, but it does take some time to orient yourself.

One of the most useful views is Channel rating. To use the ratings, tap the bar at the top of the screen and choose your Wi-Fi network. This will then display all of the available channels and give them each a star rating, with more stars indicating stronger signal potential. Typically, you would pull up this view and simply switch your router to the channel with the highest rating.

Another useful view is Channel graph, which plots all of the Wi-Fi signals in your area on a simple graph. Wi-Fi channels run along the x-axis (from 1 to 14) and Signal Strength runs up the y-axis. This view lets you easily see which channels are free, and which channels are already being occupied by one or more Wi-Fi networks. Obviously, those that are free provide more stable connections.

Time graph plots the changes in a Wi-Fi network's connectivity over time. AP list gives a bar reading of each Wi-Fi network's signal strength, which is perfect for comparing Wi-Fi networks in your area. And finally, Signal meter gives you a speedometer-type reading of a particular network's signal strength. This is helpful for choosing a physical location for your router. Once you place your router, you can walk around with your Android device to see how your meter reading fluctuates, then make adjustments as needed.

If you're setting up a Wi-Fi network for your home or office, we highly recommend WiFi Analyzer for Android. You'll probably have to sit with it for a while to orient yourself, but you certainly don't have to be a networking genius to use it. It offers several useful tools for optimizing both the settings and physical location of your router. Plus, it comes with extras like the ability to take snapshots of your readings, which is nice for testing out different configurations.

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