With this freeware tips package, you can get your devices online faster and more isolated, convert a PC into a wifi router and unmask secret foreign surfers.
Almost everyone now uses WiFi connections. Although LAN or Ethernet cables usually transmit data faster and more stably, the flexibility of the WLAN radio is crucial for many users. Unfortunately, things don’t always run smoothly in the wireless network: data often practically trickles through the line (more precisely: the air) – because WLAN is a “shared medium” like any radio connection. With such shared media, devices compete for bandwidth. The consequences are slower downloads, jerky video streams and annoying disconnections.
Uploads, which are usually slower than downloads with DSL connections (asynchronous DSL), take longer than necessary. If you want these disruptive factors to disappear, this article is there to help: It presents free analysis and tuning tools that turn the screws for performance, stability and security – and thus get more out of your WLAN (router). The tools determine a lot of information about your own and surrounding networks, which helps to analyze problems with web access.
WLAN is important because notebooks can use it to access the Internet without having to laboriously lay cables. Some devices, such as tablets, are even dependent on such a wireless network (unless there is a cellular modem), because there is no space in their slim housing for a cable connection. In the meantime, some notebooks also do without a LAN socket. Although the compiled analysis and tuning programs are designed for Windows, they also allow mobile devices without Microsoft’s operating system to surf faster – for example by providing clues for changing the radio channel.
Make WiFi faster and stabilize it
You notice a slow WLAN less when you visit websites. It’s more noticeable when downloading large files or receiving video streams. If you like to play, you may be annoyed by disconnections: both some PC and console games do not like a disconnected network connection. Depending on the game, live games end with a short WLAN dropout. A LAN cable to the router could improve the data flow, but cannot always be laid.
Free tools help to optimize the reception quality – and with it the speed and reliability. Ekahau HeatMapper, for example, uses a map to show where WiFi reception is best in your apartment or house – and where it is rather poor. The program is to be installed on a notebook that you use to walk through your four walls. By slightly moving the wireless router several times and re-measuring each time with the Ekahau tool, you will discover the optimal position for routers and end devices as Internet access points. If possible, also change the position of the WLAN router antennas: horizontally they improve coverage on the floors above and below, vertically on the same floor.
Find the best WiFi radio channel
WLAN analysis tools such as Homedale, Wi-Fi Scanner or Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector will tell you to what extent your wireless network overlaps with neighboring ones. To do this, compare which listed router network uses which channel for data transmission. Choosing a different channel as far away as possible in your router menu often provides a speed boost.
For the 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) frequency band, it is best to choose one of the non-overlapping channels: 1, 6 or 11. Otherwise, it has proven useful to activate the automatic channel selection in the router if necessary: Since the radio conditions change from time to time, it is on fixed channel maybe not the right thing. However, if possible, test a manual channel selection and an automatic one on the router side. With the latter, the WLAN base station flexibly avoids overlaps. Why a rigid choice of channel isn’t always good: The neighbors’ WLAN routers may change their channels independently – your own router should follow suit.
Read WLAN information
WirelessNetView is a lean software solution for calling up information about available WLANs. The free program comes from Nirsoft – a developer of system-related portable tools. WirelessNetView also runs without setup. It optionally exports its detected information to a text file and offers the Ctrl-R keyboard shortcut to disconnect from the internet.
Tools with WLAN advice
Would you like to get an overview of the speed and security of multiple WLAN networks without the technical internals? Get Acrylic WiFi Home : When you highlight a wireless access point in the tool, several color bar ratings will light up.
Interesting for bargain hunters: The free full version ” Abylon WLAN Live Scanner ” finds nearby WLAN access points that do not require a password. They are usually free to use, but also potentially unsafe.
Private and public: Secure wireless network
Do you want your WiFi at home ? to secure? Rely on the WPA2 encryption method, which is considered to be secure, and assign an access code for WLAN and the router menu in the device settings. Thanks to WPA2, you can transfer data faster with the (no longer fresh) wireless technology IEEE 802.11-n: If you activate the WPA2 protocol with CCMP encryption (AES-based), there is no throttling to 54 – unlike with TKIP encryption Megabits per second (Mbps), which equates to sluggish g-WLAN. Even better is the ac radio (always working at 5 GHz) – recently referred to as “Wi-Fi 5” by the responsible Wi-Fi Alliance. Wifi 6 (WLAN IEEE 802.11ax) and 6E are currently the most modern methods and even faster. In addition to WPA2, newer routers support WPA3. This is even safer and therefore preferable.
In public wireless networks, your hands are tied from a security point of view; often there is not even a WLAN password here. And everyone who is logged into the same network as you is able to record your data traffic. Arm yourself against this with Hotspot Shield or another VPN program: These set up an encrypted VPN connection to your provider. You surf a little slower with this, but the transmitted data is tap-proof.
The Opera browser has a built-in VPN : As with paid VPN applications and Hotspot Shield, you can surf safely without a data volume upper limit – and without advertisements. Important with Opera VPN: The server selection is limited because you choose between continents instead of a country. One restriction: Only Opera’s internal web communication is protected here, so bad tongues only speak of an HTTPS proxy.
Anonymizing software protects against Krack
The vulnerability of the WPA2 encryption shows that a VPN is important: The latter is no longer unassailable, but still recommended. The hardened successor WPA3 has been adopted and prevails. VPNs prevent data tapping via Krack. Rely on it, especially in public spaces; At home, this is not mandatory if the WLAN range is low and online activities are not critical. A VPN even slows things down a bit, as it redirects data to the provider’s server.
As a rule, https connections ( Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) are shielded and thus protect you from security gaps such as Krack, whereas normal http transmissions can be eavesdropped on by other WLAN users. Enforce the use of secure https data streams with HTTPS Everywhere for Firefox or HTTPS Everywhere for Chrome. The add-ons supplement anonymization software.
Convenient: HTTPS Everywhere was already installed as an extension in the portable Tor Browser. Meanwhile, HTTPS Everything seems increasingly unimportant (whether installed on a dedicated basis or integrated into Tor): Despite HTTP URL input, numerous web servers today automatically use https connections with secure SSL/TLS encryption. Occasionally the extension is still useful; Paranoiacs should use them. HTTPS Everywhere redirects you to the HTTPS versions of websites that you access via “http”.
Convert PC to WLAN router
If the distance between the router and the notebook or game console is too great, the connection will be slow or even impossible. Repeaters help: If you position such a WLAN extension bridge in the middle, the range of the radio signal increases – while the data throughput is halved with single-band instead of dual-band repeaters. Another way to get a better connection is to use the PC as a WLAN Internet access point – via the command line: Windows operating systems share the Internet connection with on-board resources. Connectify Hotspot is easier to use: It has a graphical interface and creates a wireless hotspot using an existing wired or wireless internet connection. In the first case, the tool works like a WLAN access point (it receives Internet access via LAN/Ethernet and passes it on via WLAN), in the second case like a repeater.
Connectify hotspot alternative: MyPublicWiFi
Tools of the Connectify hotspot type sometimes work unreliably.
But MyPublicWiFi does a good job. This is less common than Connectify Hotspot, but does not display advertising in the interface. The default password is 12345678, you should change it for security reasons.
Speed test: How fast is your DSL
Interfering influences for WLANs do not only exist at home. If the connection lags, the culprit may be your Internet Service Provider ( ISP ), which is delivering a slower speed than promised. With a DSL speed test like the one from COMPUTER BILD, you can find out whether data is zipping or crawling over your Internet line. The whole thing is also suitable as a WLAN benchmark. However, since WLANs are subject to interference, the test in the LAN is recommended. You can talk to your Internet provider about data rates that are too low – for example, because you want to cancel your contract.