You can’t see them, but they’re all around you! I’m not talking about cockroaches (I hope). No! I’m talking about Wi-Fi. At this very moment, dozens of wireless networks could be broadcasting in your area.
These could be public networks you can use. But they could also be private ones that are interfering with your own home Wi-Fi signal.
That’s because when two nearby transmitters are using the same frequency, they slow each other down. It could even break network connections altogether.
That’s where Vistumbler comes in handy. It’s a free download that lets you see each network around you. It shows the name, signal strength, frequency and more useful info. It can even link up with Google Earth to show you where the routers are located.
On the Vistumbler page click the EXE Installer link at the top, save the file and run it. There is no extra software to install, but you will need to agree to the GPL license. After you do so, Vistumbler may ask if you want to update to the latest version; feel free to do so.
Note: Despite what it says on the page, it does work on Windows 8 as well as Vista and 7.
When you run Vistumbler not much will happen. You’ll need to click the Scan APs button in the top left corner. Then you’ll see all the nearby signals your receiver is picking up. It will list the signal router’s MAC address, SSID, name, channel and speed.
The Vistumbler developer suggests disconnecting your laptop from the wireless network while doing this.
Handy tip: If you see that your wireless channel is the same as others around you, change it! Click here to read how to do it, as well as four other ways to improve your network.