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I'm setting up a wireless network with multiple access points in a large area with multiple buildings. What software/hardware can I use to test the wireless service? Basically I want a quicker and more "scientific" way of measuring the performance of the wireless in different areas besides just walking around with a laptop and seeing how fast some site loads while in different areas.

Any ideas?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

You need Wireless Site Survey software. Some wireless cards provide Site Survey functionality in their driver package. Ekahau HeatMapper has a free version but you need to provide your own building maps.

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One tool that is somewhat useful is a Spectrum Analyzer. The Wi-Spy is is a inexpensive device that is somewhat useful. There are more expensive and more accurate alternatives as well provide more tools.

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WiSpy's products are great little pieces of hardware that are relatively cheap and they will expose a range of issues that scanning via WiFi adapter will generally miss (or at best will just indicate as noise). A professional RF survey will give you a lot more but in terms of bang for your buck you can't go wrong with the WiSpy. And it's great being able to watch the Microwave in the kitchen start up and trash a chunk of 2.4Ghz WiFi channels. – Helvick Oct 1 '09 at 19:42
This is a very good suggestion. I will probably buy a Wi-Spy before long. – Max Schmeling Oct 1 '09 at 22:03

What operating system are you looking to use?

Netstumbler would give you what you wanted on Windows.

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Any operating system is fine. – Max Schmeling Oct 1 '09 at 17:04
What type of price range are you looking at? How accurate do you need it to be? – Noah Clark Oct 1 '09 at 17:08
Well, any of the somewhat standard operating systems Windows/Linux – Max Schmeling Oct 1 '09 at 17:12
We don't want to spend a lot. It doesn't have to be insanely accurate, I just want a good way to test and make sure we're getting decent/good signal in all necessary locations – Max Schmeling Oct 1 '09 at 17:13
And by not a lot I mean <$100 if possible... but that's not a hard limit... i figured there would probably be a good software solution that just used a normal wireless card – Max Schmeling Oct 1 '09 at 17:13

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