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I have been experiencing a lot of dropped connections between on all of my devices and it is really frustrasting.....

Does anyone recommend free or reasonable price software to monitor signal strength, network usage and any type of trouble shooting that might cause the dropped network connections.

It's an older building with plaster walls. Plaster walls have been known to hinder a wireless network.

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The question is fine in a general sense, but I edited out the home-related bits that knock it out of scope. –  Kara Marfia Jun 13 '09 at 17:57
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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you are having trouble with NetStumbler, you might try out inSSIDer.

If you have Vista or Windows 7, you might also try Vistumbler.

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Thanks for suggesting inSSIDer. Really easy to use! –  Michael Kniskern Jun 13 '09 at 18:51
    
I agree, inSSIDer is much better than NetStumbler, thanks for the tip! –  Eric H Jun 14 '09 at 1:19
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dd-wrt firmware for wireless routers has a screen that will show the various hosts it sees on the wireless interface and the signal strength it is receiving from them. If you have have multiple wireless routers you can also mesh them together with dd-wrt.

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Netstumbler is a good piece of software. I use KisMac (Kismet for OSX) and have found it quite useful. I used it to perform a full site survey of my home and property with the goal of maximizing signal on my land whilst minimizing spillover onto neighboring parcels.

As an aside; instead of looking at plaster as the source loss I would look for other wireless signals on the same or nearby channels. In my older home with plaster walls, I placed my WAP54G in the basement and still get excellent reception on the second floor. Excellent enough that I was able to place it below grade and use the foundation and soil as shielding. Of course, my anecdotal evidence may not apply at all.

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I agree with the plaster comment. I have also seen older homes with metal lathe... Wireless wouldn't go through two walls. –  Eric H Jun 13 '09 at 0:10
    
Good call on the metal lathe, it makes for a great EM screen. My experience is with wood (and in my case) rock lathe. –  Scott Pack Jun 13 '09 at 0:35
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NetStumbler is pretty good.

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I downloaded NetStumbler and it is not finding my wireless network SSID, even when I am next to the access point. –  Michael Kniskern Jun 13 '09 at 18:23
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