NetSpot Wi-Fi Scanner Review: Get to know your wi-fi network

Etwok, LLC.'s NetSpot app is a Wi-Fi survey and troubleshooting app that helps you discover issues related to your wireless network and plan for future wireless network installations.

NetSpot is available for Macs, Windows, and there is also a newly released Android version. The app is also available at four price points: Free, $49 Home Edition, $149 Pro Edition, and a $499 Enterprise edition.

You can get 30% off your NetSpot Home or PRO edition purchase using the code iMORE30 at checkout.

See at Netspot

Let's break it down

NetSpot heat map

Each version adds additional features, but the most basic version will give you a good idea of what's possible with NetSpot and no matter what version you start with you can upgrade to the next version by paying the difference between the price of the version you own and the version you need.

The differences between each of the versions breaks down roughly by the number of zones/floors you can include in a survey, how many access points you can scan, and the number of data points you can collect as part of a survey:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 FreeHOME $49PRO $149ENTERPRISE $499
Row 0 - Cell 0 Non-commercialNon-CommercialOne-User Commercial License10-User Commercial License
Row 1 - Cell 0 ---2 zones50 ZonesUnlimited Zones
Row 2 - Cell 0 ---50 Data Points500 Data PointsUnlimited Data Points
Row 3 - Cell 0 ---5 Access PointsUnlimited Access PointsUnlimited Access Points
Row 4 - Cell 0 ---No Hidden SSIDsHidden SSIDsHidden SSIDs
Row 5 - Cell 0 Network Scan-onlyPassive ScanningPassive/Active ScanningPassive/Active Scanning
Row 6 - Cell 0 ---No Auto-saveSurvey Auto-saveSurvey Auto-save

A World of Discovery

NetSpot preferences panel

NetSpot offers two modes for working with your Wi-Fi network. The first is Discovery mode which allows you to scan your local area to see and analyze any networks in your vicinity. This scanner displays information in real time, color-coding each network and allowing you to view signal-to-noise ratios, break info out into 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, and export detailed report information in CSV format so you can analyze it in other ways.

The app can discover any network, even if it's hidden, and provide information about the strength of the signal, the manufacturer of the access point, whether or not an access point has security and if so what kind. Giving you everything you need to see, work with, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of your wireless network.

Survey Says?

Network Discovery on Netspot

The Good

  • Expert Wi-Fi network mapping
  • Survey empty offices using a single access point
  • Discover locations that have low signal or interference
  • Heatmaps help to optimize access point placement

The Bad

  • None

It's likely you won't realize that you need a network survey until you've actually run one for the first time on your network. NetSpot's network survey tool allows you to walk from point to point in your home or office to see where your signal is strongest and weakest and it will help you to determine where you're experiencing Wi-Fi interference due to microwaves or too much crossover from other wireless networks.

NetSpot surveys begin with a floor plan of the space where your network is and a laptop computer. You can import a floor plan from blueprints of office plans you have in most any standard image format, draw a floor plan manually within the application, use one of NetSpot's sample maps, or use a blank map. Once you've got your floorplan loaded, you'll need to verify basic measurement information so NetSpot can determine the size of the area you're surveying.

Once you've provided measurements, you select the networks you want to include in your scan and choose the type of scanning you want to do. Passive scanning checks the quality of your Wi-Fi signal and how much noise the location you're scanning has. When you choose Active scanning it collects your download and upload speeds in addition to checking the Wifi quality.

To scan, you stand at a point in your home or office and click that location on your survey map. NetSpot will take a signal sample and, if you've chosen active scanning, will check to see what your download speeds are at that location. NetSpot plays a tone when that scan is complete, then you walk to another location, mark it on the map, and sample the signal again. The more samples you take the clearer a picture you'll have of the strength and span of your Wi-Fi network.

Once complete NetSpot creates heat maps derived from the survey. These are graphical maps that show you where your Wi-Fi is strongest and weakest and where your signal-to-noise ratios are best and worst. You can use these maps to help reposition access points and to determine whether and where you may need to add new access points.

A new NetSpot feature, called One Point Survey can be used to help you "pre-survey" locations using a single access point moved to multiple locations. This can help you determine exactly how many access points you'll need and where you'll need them to provide the best Wi-Fi coverage in your home or office.

Net Results

NetSpot is top drawer. You won't find a better app for figuring out why your Wi-Fi isn't working the way you need it to. And it will help you plan for new networks and reconfigure your existing network so that you have the most complete understanding of your Wi-Fi network and the best coverage possible.

You can get 30% off your NetSpot Home or PRO edition purchase using the code iMORE30 at checkout.

See at Netspot

WiFi Woes

What are your Wi-Fi woes? Low bandwidth? Network noise. Let us know and we'll see how we can help.

Jeffery Battersby

Jeff is a writer, actor, Apple Certified Trainer, and IT consultant, born and raised in A-town and now living in NY. You can often catch him behind the scenes and on stage at County Players, Falls Theatre. Up next? He's stage managing *Cat on a Hot Tin Roof* at the aforementioned County Players.