Many users of Wi-Fi hotspots and home wireless networks know how to use software applications to find signals to connect to, but an all-important next step is to make sure your connection is optimized. Quite a few of the best software utilities for Wi-Fi network optimization are free, and in this post I’ll round up several of the best ones.
My favorite of all Wi-Fi optimization utilities is Qcheck, from IXIA (for the free install click the Install Qcheck link). This is a rich application for all sorts of IP performance testing. If you have a home Wi-Fi network, it can help you optimize your placement of access points and routers, and more. I especially like the accurate measurement of streaming throughput I get when doing things like roaming around the house watching video.
Qcheck runs through a battery of tests to quantify network response time, throughput and streaming performance. On a home Wi-Fi network, some of the performance you get is limited by the speed ceiling your broadband provider gives you, while other tasks run either faster or slower depending on issues such as how far away from your wireless signal you typically are. Qcheck delivers enough information to help you optimize Wi-Fi throughout your home.
While Qcheck is a great, thorough testing tool, I also like to use some of the quick and easy Wi-Fi utilities. WiFi Meter is a widget that gives you a view of what looks like a battery, but it expresses what kind of Wi-Fi range you’re getting as you roam around a home (see below). It’s free.
In addition, JiWire is a tool I use all the time for gauging everything from my Wi-Fi signal strength to my level of security protection. It’s also good for finding Wi-Fi hotspots wherever you are. You can use it on cell phones, an iPhone, Windows or the Mac. ALl the various versions are available free.
Finally, if you’re a Mac user and especially if you have an Airport Extreme router, the AirPort Utility is your best friend when troubleshooting, configuring and testing your Wi-Fi network. It’s in the OS X operating system, and is very easy to use.
For much more on optimizing your Wi-Fi network and tools you can use with it, check out our Ultimate Guide to Wi-Fi. Also, if you haven’t yet upgraded your network to Draft 802.11n technology, check out some good reasons to do so.
Do you know of any good Wi-Fi optimization tools or tips?