How to create a WiFi heatmap
What Is a WiFi Heatmap?
One of the most common types of technology that people interact with on a day to day basis is a WiFi network. Because of this, it is one of the things that everyday people need to fix on the most regular basis. A WiFi heatmap is simply a tool to help with this goal.
A heatmap is, as the name suggests, a map. It shows where a WiFi signal reaches and how strong it is in those areas. This map displays whatever region the WiFi network reaches, whether that be a single room, house, building, outdoor area or sometimes even an entire city! It uses varying colors to demonstrate where in the region the signal is strong and where it is weak.
WiFi heatmaps are best for finding so-called “dead zones”, or regions within a network that have a low signal speed relative to surrounding areas. This is truly where heatmaps shine – without them, repairing or improving a network is based solely on random guessing or experimentation. WiFi heatmaps provide a single, streamlined and cohesive place to view your network as an entire entity all at once.
WiFi heatmaps are frequently used by professionals and repair people to analyze the effectiveness of a client’s WiFi network as a whole. They can also be used by regular, every day people for the exact same purpose. While it may seem like a technical subject, many commercially available WiFi heatmap tools make them as easy to understand and use as possible.
The best WiFi heatmap tools allow users to relax because they make the process of creating a visual representation of an entire WiFi network completely automatic. This allows everybody, from a technical genius to a complete novice, to create a heatmap in an incredibly short amount of time, following straight-forward step by step instructions along the way.
How does WiFi heatmap work
For the purposes of this article, I will discuss various heatmap options within Netspot, my personal WiFi heatmap tool software of choice. Within Netspot, there are several different types of heatmaps which can show different kinds of information. These include Signal Level maps which show strong and weak spots of WLAN strength, with blue and purple denoting areas of slow signal speeds.
Another option is the Signal to Noise ratio map, which is useful for identifying areas in your region of interest that have high levels of noise. Last is a Signal-to-Interference ratio map which will show you where areas of high interference are. This interference could be caused by a variety of factors.
How to use a WiFi Heat Mapper
As previewed above, the best way to create a WiFi heatmap is through the use of a WiFi site survey. This category of software is specifically designed with consumer-level users to use, making the process as easy and seamless as possible regardless of technical experience.
After opening your heatmap software, you must first create a map of the house, building, or office space where you will be analyzing WiFi signal. This can usually be done with an existing map saved to your computer, or you can draw it yourself on grid lines provided within the software. It is strongly recommended that you use a preexisting map if possible.
After creating or opening your existing map, you must create the actual heatmap itself. This will require you to carry your laptop, phone, or other portable device to somewhere on the map. You will then select the location where you are standing (or as close as possible) on the map, and the software will register the WiFi speed at the location you are standing. This process will repeat, as you walk around the location of interest and record several points.
Usually, the software will recommend that you walk around the perimeter of whatever room you are in. Once you have completed this, you can walk through the center of the room to take additional data points; this will increase the accuracy of your WiFi heatmap.
After you have completed this process and have your finished heatmap, double check that all the readings logically make sense – if there are any dead zones immediately surrounded by areas of high speeds, you may want to rescan those places to ensure they are accurate. Once you are happy with your heatmap, just save the file to your computer and you’re done!
How to troubleshoot your WiFi
Troubleshooting can be a long, involved process. Below, a few of the most common issues that users run into will be discussed.
The Universal Suggestion
The so-called “universal suggestion” is recommended for any issues experienced with WiFi, and it can even be useful regarding other types of technological problems!
This solution simply involves disconnecting your electronic device from its power source, waiting for 10-20 seconds, and reconnecting the power source. Of course, this sounds simple but it works a surprising amount of the time. It’s even been used on the International Space Shuttle!
Slow WiFi Speeds
This is one of the most common issues with WiFi, and there are many possible solutions. One of the most common culprits that creates this issue is a crowded network. This can be caused by WiFi interference, as there are three channels which WiFi works on. These three channels can interfere with themselves, but not the only two. This means if you have a lot of neighbors on the same channel as yours but few on another one, that second channel is the way to go!
The way to attempt to solve this problem is to check what channel your WiFi router is set to. This can be done through the manufacturer’s website, but NetSpot also offers this on an easily accessible screen! In addition to heatmaps, NetSpot provides many great tools to help with WiFi. Once you identify what channel your router is set to, try switching it to one of the other two channels through your router settings. The exact way to do this varies based on what router you have, but information can be found on the manufacturer’s website.
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