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I have trouble connecting to the Internet in my home, and I'd like software to understand questions like the following:

  1. What is the strength of my device's connection to the network?
  2. What is the strength of my network's connection to the internet?
  3. How does network connection strength vary in different parts of the house?
  4. How does network connection strength vary based on different routers? (I have two.)
  5. How do the answers to the above questions vary over time? (I suspect my network's connection to the internet drops out intermittently.)

I'm a professional software engineer and comfortable with a sophisticated tool. If the tool exports data, I'm comfortable analyzing it programmatically if need be.

I have both macOS and Windows devices.

4 Answers 4

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For simplicity:

You need inSSIDer. (There is a free version below the paid download section.)

For OSX there are hundreds... and a lot of info how to get this from the shell.

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  • These tools actually look really nice; wish they listed commercials on their website directly, though.
    – DankyNanky
    Commented May 1, 2023 at 14:06
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You can use the free version of Netspot to create a project for your home, wherein you can perform periodic analysis of your home network; here is their sales pitch for the product on YouTube, if you're a visual learner.

NetSpot will use your current device as the test-case, so for consistency, try to use the same device. It will allow you to load a floor-plan and then perform a survey of locations; simply click, wait for analysis and continue. Limitations such as performing on a specific BSSID or SSID might be a limitation of the free version; you will need to confirm license requirements. Netspot SNR Example

With the view, you can assign SSIDs to their broadcasting devices (across a mesh network) to see the SNR, signal strength and channel. This tool uses similar categorization of the Ekahau Survey (color scales, standards).

To work in tandem with this, there are some nice GUI tools that will measure AP requirements, channel usage, and device radios. This reference list is also great for you to get an understanding of your devices capabilities, and why your results might be so different at peak times, and across SSIDs.

What is the strength of my device's connection to the network?

This will also be impacted by the type of device you're using, and it's own capabilities. This reference list will help you get an understanding. Don't forget that drivers on devices also play a role in capabilities.

What is the strength of my network's connection to the internet?

If you want to monitor your internet connection, there are a number of monitoring tools you can self-host, such as Nagios that will assist you with this. You can also look into performing periodic iperf3 tests and other connection scripts to monitor.

For bandwidth testing (not reliability), you can run a number of small ad-hoc tests, as well:

$a=Get-Date; Invoke-WebRequest 'http://client.akamai.com/install/test-objects/10MB.bin' | Out-Nu
ll; ((10 / ((NEW-TIMESPAN -Start $a -End (Get-Date)).totalseconds)) * 8)

How does network connection strength vary in different parts of the house?

Pay close attention to labelling the items (such as the type of walls) in your house that might be obstructing your signal, and what the power settings on your APs are set to. Sometimes in a single-AP household there's no client-health assessment done. You might wish to increase or lower your power output on devices for coverage requirements. Also, note that with CCI and "noisy neighbors" you might need to also look into changing channels for your APs.

How does network connection strength vary based on different routers?

Assumed you're running the units in a Mesh deployment of some description. The performance of the devices, if they're not the same model, will come down to radio capability and power. FSPL will also be something you need to account for, based on power output options of your routers radios. It might be best to switch locations, depending on their capabilities.

Free space path loss is an important component of the link budget, together with the antenna gain and the cable loss. Free space path loss is the decline in the RF signal’s amplitude as it moves across free space. The signal strength will deteriorate even if there are no obstructions in the path between the two antennas, the transmitting, and the receiving antenna.

How do the answers to the above questions vary over time?

You can run tests from tools such as PRTG, Nagios or other vendors over time and perform snapshots of performance (you'll need a device with WiFi capabilities). Enterprise solutions such as Aruba CAPE exist for this reason. Solarwinds have a free trial of their competition software (Windows only, I believe) that will perform these snapshot solutions for you.

Example Project Survey

Notable Competitors (Windows Only)

Notable Mobile Applications

Reference Information

Enterprise Solutions

Commands For interface status on Windows, you can run:

netsh wlan show interfaces

This will return particular details on Windows for Signal Strength.

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Perhaps NetSpot might meet your requirements. It is free app.

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Nirsoft's free Windows OS tool, WiFiInfoView, provides much of the information you requested (and a lot more!). No installation is needed. The partial screenshot below shows signal strength, router speed etc. (There are yet more columns, and I've redacted some data.)

Nirsoft's WiFiInfoView

There's also NetSpot for Mac OS X, which I've not used.

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