How to measure wireless router performance

Are you getting all that you can from your wireless router? How do you know? We'll show you how to measure your wireless router's performance to make sure that it's running at its best.

NETGEAR WNDR3800
NETGEAR

Are you getting all that you can from your wireless router? How do you know? If you're not getting the same range or throughput as you used to, something may be awry. Here's how to measure your wireless router's performance to make sure that it's running at its best:

Signal strength
To measure signal strength and to identify the active wireless channels around you, we recommend using a program called inSSIDer.

When you launch inSSIDer, you'll notice a list of wireless networks around you, including your own.  Each network's signal strength is displayed in the RSSI column. The signal strength is updated in near real-time, so you can actually move around with your laptop to observe fluctuations in signal strength.

inSSIDer
Metageek

Throughput
To measure throughput, download and install a program called QCheck, by Ixia. It's a free download, but you'll have to register to get the download link e-mailed to you.

Install QCheck on two computers--one that's plugged into your router via Ethernet and one on a wireless computer. Each computer with QCheck installed is considered an endpoint. Alternatively, you can install QCheck on just the computer you'll be running the QCheck console on, then install Ixia's Performance Endpoint software on the partner computer.

After starting QCheck, enter the IP address of Endpoint1 (the PC running the QCheck console) and Endpoint2 (the partner PC). Select "Throughput" in the Options section and click the Run button to get your throughput results.

Ixia QCheck
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

That's it. Your wireless router's signal strength and network throughput measurements will help you confirm whether or not your wireless network is performing as expected. If not, these tools should also help you narrow down the cause.

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Tech Culture
About the author

Ed Rhee, a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an IT veteran turned stay-at-home-dad of two girls. He focuses on Android devices and applications while maintaining a review blog at techdadreview.com.

 

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