Six useful WiFi tools for Windows

We've rounded up these six downloads, most of them free

Windows doesn't do a particularly good job of providing Wi-Fi tools. Yes, it will let you search for and connect to nearby networks, but that's about the extent of it. What if you want to get detailed information about every Wi-Fi network within range, troubleshoot your network, turn your laptop into a portable Wi-Fi hot spot or keep yourself safe at public hot spots? Windows is no help.

We've rounded up these six downloads. Five out of the six are free; the other is inexpensive and lets you try it out first.

This slideshow accompanies our in-depth Wi-Fi feature.

  • InSSIDer
  • Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector
  • Connectify
  • WeFi
  • Hotspot Shield
  • Plug and Browse
  • Play
  • Play
  • Backward
  • Forward

Connectify


This very nifty piece of free software lets you turn a Windows 7 PC (it only works with Windows 7) into a Wi-Fi hot spot that can be used by nearby devices your smartphone, for example, or devices that your co-workers are using in the same location.



Price: Free

Compatible with: Windows 7

Download Connectify

Read more...

WeFi


Tools like InSSIDer and Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector are great for finding hot spots that are currently in range of your laptop. But if you want to find hot spots in other locations -- a part of town that you'll be in later in the day, for example, or a city you'll be visiting next week, you'll want to give WeFi a try.The basic version of WeFi is free, but there's also a version called WeFi Premium that you have to pay for.


Price: Free

Compatible with: Windows XP, Vista and 7

Download WeFi

Read more...

Hotspot Shield

When you connect to the Internet via a public hot spot, you put yourself at risk because someone might try to sniff your packets or otherwise snoop on what you're doing online. Hotspot Shield, a free, lightweight piece of software from AnchorFree, promises to keep you safe by creating a secure VPN connection and encrypting all of your communications.


Price: Free

Compatible with: Windows 2000, XP, Vista and 7 (also Mac OS X 10.4, 10.5 and 10.6)

Download Hotspot Shield

Read more...

Plug and Browse

A very nice touch is that you can tell Plug and Browse to automatically create a profile for you and it will grab all of your current settings for the network to which you're connected. You can still edit the settings after that if you need to.


Price: $39.99 (with 30-day free trial)

Compatible with: Windows XP, Vista and 7

Download Plug & Browse

Read more...

InSSIDer


MetaGeek's InSSIDer is a great tool for finding Wi-Fi networks within range of your computer and gathering a great deal of information about each. It's also useful for troubleshooting problems with your own Wi-Fi network.


Price: Free
Compatible with: Windows XP, Vista and 7 (32- and 64-bit)
Download InSSIDer

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MetaGeek\'s InSSIDer is a great tool for finding Wi-Fi networks within range of your computer and gathering a great deal of information about each. It\'s also useful for troubleshooting problems with your own Wi-Fi network.


Price: Free
Compatible with: Windows XP, Vista and 7 (32- and 64-bit)
Download InSSIDer

Read more...

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This is another excellent program that sniffs out Wi-Fi networks and shares pertinent information about them, such as how close or far away they are. Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector shows any nearby hot spots on a radar-like display. A separate pane offers detailed information about every hot spot it finds, including signal strength, the kind of network (802.11n, for example), the router vendor, the channel on which the network transmits and whether it\'s an access point or an ad hoc network.However, if you want more detailed information, including the relative signal strengths of all nearby wireless networks, InSSIDer is a better bet.


Price: Free

Compatible with: Windows XP SP2+, Vista and 7

Download Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector

Read more...

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This very nifty piece of free software lets you turn a Windows 7 PC (it only works with Windows 7) into a Wi-Fi hot spot that can be used by nearby devices your smartphone, for example, or devices that your co-workers are using in the same location.



Price: Free

Compatible with: Windows 7

Download Connectify

Read more...

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Tools like InSSIDer and Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector are great for finding hot spots that are currently in range of your laptop. But if you want to find hot spots in other locations -- a part of town that you\'ll be in later in the day, for example, or a city you\'ll be visiting next week, you\'ll want to give WeFi a try.The basic version of WeFi is free, but there\'s also a version called WeFi Premium that you have to pay for.


Price: Free

Compatible with: Windows XP, Vista and 7

Download WeFi

Read more...'; tmp["caption"] = ''; slideshowStr[4] = tmp; tmp = {}; tmp["image"] = 'http://cdn4.computerworlduk.com/cmsdata/slideshow/3238559/6_useful_WiFi_toold_for_Windows_5_thumb555.jpg'; tmp["title"] = 'Hotspot Shield'; tmp["description"] = '

When you connect to the Internet via a public hot spot, you put yourself at risk because someone might try to sniff your packets or otherwise snoop on what you\'re doing online. Hotspot Shield, a free, lightweight piece of software from AnchorFree, promises to keep you safe by creating a secure VPN connection and encrypting all of your communications.


Price: Free

Compatible with: Windows 2000, XP, Vista and 7 (also Mac OS X 10.4, 10.5 and 10.6)

Download Hotspot Shield

Read more...

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A very nice touch is that you can tell Plug and Browse to automatically create a profile for you and it will grab all of your current settings for the network to which you\'re connected. You can still edit the settings after that if you need to.


Price: $39.99 (with 30-day free trial)

Compatible with: Windows XP, Vista and 7

Download Plug & Browse

Read more...

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