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Thread: inSSIDer did not answer the only question I had

  1. #1

    Default inSSIDer did not answer the only question I had

    Hi there

    As a newbie I installed inSSIDer recommended by (

    My only expectation was to find out the very simple question:
    Which is the best wifi I have around?

    After opening the program I could not actually see it. I was expecting a column being, quality of signal or something like this, so I could sort it and see if my wifi had the best signal or not. But I couldn't understand it.

    Another question I had (probably not every newbie will have this question), it was if I should change something in my router to improve the signal (the channel maybe?), but that had a hard answer as well...

    So please, make it easier for newbies, add a new column for quality so the stupidiest person can find this program useful.


    P.D. After a while I see that maybe what I am looking for is RSSI column but what the hell this means? Please make it more descriptive.

  2. #2


    As you learn about wifi and try to improve your setup you will find that there are many factors that can and do affect your wifi. Some of these things can be found via your wifi card, some you need a card that can look at the traffic, some you need a device that can look at non-wifi traffic.

    Insider fits into the first group. (Tyler will correct me if I get it wrong), but the way I see it is insider was a tool developed for windows that uses your wifi card and the windows API (a programing interface) to get data. As such Insider is limited to what the API allows. Keep in mind that windows protects the wifi card from direct access. Some wifi cards and there windows drivers report things in a different manner.

    Insider is very good at telling you how many WiFi access points you can see, what channel they are on, and relative to each other, how strong the signal strengh is. It also value adds this by reporting speeds that those APs can work at.

    Since the tools can be used to help tune a setup, the use of the correct terms is important. By using the correct terms, it means those people who learnt about wifi and how it works, know whats what. I would recommend that if you want to improve your wifi, that you take the time to learn about it (it can be a fun hobby).

    If you have a read of other posts, you will find many posts about wifi and what can affect it. To help you get started I will repeat some info here.

    When using wifi there is more to it then just the best signal.
    RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) will tell you how strong the AP signal is as seen by your wifi card.

    Note: There is no standard to how this is reported, so use it as a relative measure between all the APs that you see in the list. The closer the number is to 0, the stronger the signal (eg: -70 is better then -80).
    The wifi card and the AP will slow the speed of your connection to get a reliable link. So while your AP may report a max speed of 54Mbps (for example) due to different reasons, you may only get a stable link at 11Mbps.

    WiFi must share the same space, so the more devices transmitting on the same channel (or a close channel) the less time every device gets. So even if you are connected at 54Mbps that will be shared via all devices on that same channel. So a clear channel with a low signal may be faster then a busy channel with a stronger signal. While not 100% true, a good guide for the actual speed you will get from an Access Point is "Connection Speed"/(number of devices+1).
    Only you "talking" to that access point at 54Mbps :54/(1+1) = 27Mbps
    You and 3 other devices talking on the same channel at the same time : 54/(3+1) / 13Mbps.

    Just becase an AP exists, does not mean its busy. for example where I live I can see 4 Access Points. all the testing I have done show that none of them are very busy and I get the same speed on any channel.

    So the short version.
    With windows and insider, what can you see.
    a) How many Access Points are in your area and what channel they are on.
    This allows you to try to pick the least used channel.
    b) It will show you the Signal Strength. This is good to try to find the best location for your AP.
    eg: Place the AP where you would like it to be, then put your wifi device where you want to use it and see what the RSSI is.
    Next place the AP somewhere else and see if the RSSI goes up, down or no change. (look up what db means, but in short for evey gain in 3db the actual signal strength should double).

    If you want to know quality, then you will need to be able to measure things like bad packets, delays and retransmissions. To do this you will need to use a tool like wireshark with a wifi capature card. Windows wont let you use your wifi card for this, but linux does. If you want to use windows get a winpcap card.

    If you want to see what else is on the channel you will need a tool like the wispy. The WiSpy will show you what other radio traffic is on the channel space; eg: microwave oven, cordless phone, av sender, bluetooth and many more.

    To repeat... there are many tools that can tell you differnt things. Some tools are hardware that you need to buy. Some tools are software (some free and some for a fee). software only tools can only use the hardware (wifi card) and OS that you have. Windows limits access to the wifi card, so the tool is limited to that.

    "Which is the best wifi I have around?" is NOT a simple question!
    In wifi simple questions are more like...
    What AP has the strongest signal ?
    What channel is an AP on?
    What speed can the AP work at (all things working well)?

    The best channel deponds on signal strength, interference and number of other devices on that channel.

    Keep in mind in the 2.4Ghz (802.11b/g) channel use more then channel space and over lap. the best three channels to use for a setup is 1,6,11. this allows 3 non overlapping channels. so try to use a channel that is 5 or more channels away for other APs.

  3. #3


    Hi mwalker

    Thanks for the long (and detailed) answer.

    Besides the interesting details, what I understand is that inSSIDer does not try to answer my question, or it is not ready for my level of knowledge... which is a fair answer.

    Maybe I should look else elsewhere then...

    Thanks for your answer anyway.


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