inSSIDer for Office is a Wi-Fi network discovery tool that has the functionality of the inSSIDer for home users, but with added features targeted more to IT and networking professionals. The software is available from Metageeks’ website and also comes with Wi-Spy Mini—a device that acts like a tiny access point and connects to a USB port. With it, you can move freely about an area and capture, display, and calculate RF spectrum data. inSSIDer for Office is a great tool for determining the best location for deploying an access point, or for tweaking an existing Wi-Fi network. Home users and those with small networks can probably just get away with the free inSSIDer version, but if you need a more robust tool, inSSIDer for Office is worth its $199 price.
Requirements and Install
inSSIDer for Office supports Windows Vista, 7, and Windows 8.It requires Microsoft’s .NET framework, 1024 x 768 minimum screen resolution and at least 2GB of RAM. It’s recommended that you install it on a client with a dual-band 802.11n wireless adapter (otherwise you won’t be able to analyze the 5GHz band).
Launching the downloaded software opens a setup wizard, which is a breeze to run through: the whole installation process only takes a few seconds. inSSIDer for Office is actually the same as inSSIDer for home, until you pop in your Office version license key.
Once you do, the interface automatically switches from the free version to the Office version. The two UIs are not drastically different—a good choice by Metageek for consistency’s sake— but you have more menu items in the Office version; more on that later.
After installing and registering, you then connect the tiny Wi-Spy device to a USB port and then you are ready to do some spectrum analyzing!
Features and Interface
As mentioned the interface between the free and paid versions are very much the same. Both versions have fours views, each of which is accessed by clicking a menu option at the top of the screen. Both versions have a “Learn” view option—this is where you can access the user guide, lessons, and instructional webinars. “Networks” view is the same in both, also. This is you can see information about wireless networks such as signal strength, channel, security, and other details. If you drill down to a specific network you also can view other networks that are overlapping that network’s channel and other useful information.
There are two additional views in the Office version. “Channels” provides details on networks’ channel power, channel signal information, how many access points are operating on a specific channel, and so on.
I think the fourth view “Analyze,” is my favorite. Clicking on this option showed me information about the network to which I was connected. Together, the Wi-Spy Mini and inSSIDer presented me with option to increase performance. One was to change my channel from 1 to 6 because there were so many networks in range using 6. Before I made the change in my router’s interface I took note of my signal strength and Link Score—this is a compiled score by inSSIDer which shows how well (or poorly) your network is performing. My signal strength was at not such a great -66 dBm (the ideal is about -30 dBm) and my Link Score was 40. After changing the channel, my signal strength improved to -32 and my Link Score upped to 48.
I went back into the “Analyze” screen again. I was a little confused, because now the software was recommending I go back to channel 6. I wasn’t sure if recommendations would keep appearing once you have your network optimized as much as it can be—that would be counterproductive. I posed the question to the Metageek team. They advised that if you have your network starred and perform tweaks based on recommendations in the Analyze view—that the software should not keep circling back through recommendations.
Now, inSSIDer, even the Office version is still a fairly lightweight spectrum analyzer and networking utility. Those deploying enterprise-level wireless networks will likely invest much more costly tools such as Airmagnet from Fluke Networks which allows for reporting, recording and playback, and real-time automated responses to RF interference—all critical troubleshooting tools for enterprise Wi-Fi.
For those managing wireless networks in the SMB, inSSIDer for Office is a handy tool especially when paired with the Wi-Spy Mini. inSSIDer for Office also relatively affordable (at $199) for a spectrum analyzer, and it’s a great way for those starting their careers as networking professionals to get familiar with a wireless networking pro analyzer before moving onto more enterprise tools. inSSIDer for Office gets 4.5 out of 5 stars and an Editor’s Choice for SMB networking utilities.
|OS Compatibility||Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8|
|Type||Business, Personal, Professional|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc