How to Test WiFi Strength

words Alexa Wang

Several factors affect the performance of a wireless network connection. Sometimes, it could be that you are too removed from the access point, or there’s a concrete wall between the APs and your device.

If this is the case, a simple readjustment of the position of the APs to achieve an unobstructed view or moving nearer to the access points could be all you need to solve the problem.

But, often, a slow or weak WiFi wireless connection is not because of any physical obstacles. Testing your WiFi strength could help you identify why you are experiencing slow connection so you can take steps to remedy it.

test wifi

What is a WiFi Strength?

Many confuse WiFi strength and speed to mean the same thing. But, they are not – wireless WiFi strength is different from WiFi speed.

While WiFi speed is the bandwidth your internet service provider gives you, the WiFi strength depends on the internet-enabled hardware connected to the network and other physical attributes like how far away your device is from the access point.

You may be wondering, ‘does WiFi signal strength really, matter?’

Imagine you are on a deadline and need access to your email to send your report. Imagine also that your network connection is unbearably slow and frustrating – you have spent almost thirty minutes just to open your email.

Sure, the scenario above might be extreme, but you get the drift – a weak WiFi signal can make life frustrating and prevent you from getting work down.

Even if you have high-speed internet, if the WiFi signal strength is low, you will not enjoy a reliable connection.

Several factors can affect the reliability and strength of a WiFi signal. As mentioned above, staying too far from the APs can cause weak signals. Denser materials like a concrete wall or metal cabinets can block signals, and even the connection you are on will impact the strength of the wireless network.

While moving closer to the router and or placing the AP in a new position with no obstructions can generally improve the WiFi strength, there are times when the network is simply the problem. But, just to be sure you will want to test the WiFi strength.

check wifi

How to test WiFi Strength

So, how do you go about checking your WiFi strength? First, there’s the easy, simple way you can do it.

To check the WiFi strength on your device.

Whether it is a smartphone or a laptop or desktop, each internet-enabled device has a WiFi connection signal; you can look at to see the strength of the coverage.

Let’s say for the case of this illustration; you are surfing the web on your Windows laptop. Look at the bottom right side of your screen. You will see five vertical bars – each bar indicates your wireless network strength. 

If all the five bars are visible, then you have a strong WiFi signal, a single bar or no bar at all indicates weak or no signal.

Walk around your space with the device to find spots with the best signal strength.

If, however, you want a precise, in-depth analysis of your WiFi strength, you will need an app to check the wireless network signal strength.

WiFi strength test with an app

While there are several apps on the market you can use to test WiFi strength, we prefer the NetSpot app for its simplicity, ease of use, and detailed output after the test.

So, for the case of this article, we will walk you through how to conduct a WiFi strength test using the NetSpot app.

Step 1: Download and install the NetSpot app.

Step 2: Launch the app.

Step 3: Click the ‘DISCOVER’ button on the top left side of the app to switch to discover mode.

Step 4: Give the NetSpot a short while to scan and detect all WiFi connections in the area. The app will also automatically detect WiFi signal strength for each of the available networks.

Results

The app outputs information about each available network’s channel info, transmit rate, vendor, security type, band and other useful information. NetSpot even detects hidden WiFi connections too.

How to improve WiFi Strength

Now, you have all the information you need about the wireless WiFi network, what next?

For one, the information should help you figure out the appropriate response to solve the weak signal issue.

For instance, if you noticed that when you move away from the router, you begin to lose signal quickly, you may want to place the router in a central position so that every part of the space gets even coverage.

You may also want to consider replacing the router with a newer one with more capability and or deploy a WiFi signal booster to help boost the signal.

If the weak signal persists in some part of the space, check if denser obstructions are blocking the signals. For instance, thick concrete walls and metal cabinets are known to block WiFi signals. 

Consider moving the cabinets if you can or moving the router to another part of the room. And be sure to place it in an elevated spot to ensure the signals reach every part of the room without obstructions.

If you notice too many nearby WiFi connections on the same channel, you may consider switching to a less crowded channel. Most routers broadcast from the default 2.4GHz. By switching channels say to the 5GHz, you not get better throughput, but also experience less interference from other nearby networks.

Finally, you want to consider deploying an external antenna for better reception, especially if your router uses an internal antenna.

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