Best Free Wi-Fi Tools

One of the best wi-fi tools you have on your Windows based computer is netsh.   Netsh can be used to find out information about wi-fi.

Open a command prompt and you can use these tools…

netsh wlan show networks

Netsh One

netsh wlan show networks mode=bssid

Netsh Two

inSSIDer

- Uses your current wireless card and connection software
– Works with Windows XP, Vista and 7 (32 and 64 bit)
– Compatible with most GPS devices
– Track the strength of received signals in dBm over time
– Sort by MAC address, SSID, Channel, RSSI, and Time
– Export Wi-Fi and GPS data to a KML file in Google Earth

Inssider

Vistumbler  (GPS Capable)

  • Find Wireless access points
  • GPS Support
  • Export/Import access points from Vistumbler TXT/VS1/VSZ or Netstumbler TXT/Text NS1
  • Export access point GPS locations to a google earth kml file or GPX(GPS eXchange format)
  • Live Google Earth Tracking – Auto KML automatically shows access points in google earth.
  • Speaks Signal Strength using sound files, windows sound api, or MIDI

Vistumbler

NetSurveyor

  •  6 graphical, diagnostic views:
    *Timecourse of Beacon Qualities For Each Access Point
    * Differential Display of Beacon Qualities for Each Access Point
    * Usage of Each of the 802.11 Channels
    * Timecourse of the Usage of Each of the Channels
    * Heatmap / Waterfall Chart of the 802.11 Channels
    * Channel Spectrogram of the 802.11 Channels. The more (and different) ways you have at looking at data then the greater the chance something will catch your eye that you might otherwise miss if only a single type of chart were used.
  • Generates reports in Adobe PDF format
  • Powerful and innovative logging and recording capability.NetSurveyor’s playback mode is unique in that it shows you all the recorded data

NetSurveyor

Xirrus

  • Find Wi-Fi networks
  • Managing and troubleshooting Wi-Fi connections
  • Verifying Wi-Fi coverage
  • Locating Wi-Fi devices
  • Detecting rogue APs

Xirrus

What GPS have we used successfully and easily installs in Windows for the GPS Wi-Fi finders above?  The Microsoft GPS Receiver.   The receiver is small, light weight and installs easily.

Microsoft
Our class uses a scientific method of studying wireless and security.  With hands-on during every term (not in a closed lab like a majority of higher-ed institutions), the classes we teach really enjoy the study of wireless and analyzing signals.   During a recent study we found over 380 access points of which 50% were unsecure.

WiGLE has a global map drawn up by wardrivers.   Viewing the maps is scary – really, really scary.  These online GPS maps show secured and unsecured networks.

How to secure your access point- Linksys Belkin Netgear 2wire DLink

Attaching to unknown networks that are unsecured and not public is both dangerous and illegal.   Actually connecting to wireless  hotspots can be dangerous (See our article on attaching to HotSpots).   You should always use a vpn when connecting to a hotspot.   There are now applications that allow laptops, netbooks and droids to be setup as hotspots.  With packet capturing software, your data can be intercepted if you don’t use a vpn.

Improving your wireless signal is actually is easy.  For as little as $40, you can gain (from 30mw) to 1000mw or even 2000mw with the Alpha Antenna.  With a standard laptop, we see approximately eight access points.  With the Alpha we see approximately 14, and with a large antenna we were able to see 44 access points.

So what if you get a larger antenna?  There is a balance of antenna type vs. antenna gain.  A larger antenna can be better,  if it is not too large.


Decibels in relation to power gain:

20 dB is an increase of 100X in power
10 dB is an increase of 10X in power
6 dB is an increase of 4X in power
3 dB is an increase of 2X in power
2 dB is an increase of 1.6X in power
1 dB is an increase of 1.25X in power
0 dB is no increase or decrease in power

Decibels/dB, how to understand their relationship to power loss:

1 dB loss: 80% of power remains.
2 dB loss: 63% of power remains.
3 dB loss: 50% of power remains.
6 dB loss: 25% of power remains.
9 dB loss: 12.5% of power remains.
10 dB loss: 10% of power remains.
12 dB loss: 6.25% of power remains.
20 dB loss: 1 percent of power remains.
(Therefore professional wireless cards have to be used for larger antennas)

(Calculators)

If you add an antenna (yagi, omnidirectional) and need to add cable, make sure the total attenuation or loss is no more than about 3 db at 2.4 GHz or you could lose half of your total transmit power before it even reaches the antenna.

Specs on the Alfa Antenna ~

* Compatible with IEEE 802.11n, 802.11b/g/n wireless standards
* 2.4GHz frequency band, MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output)
* Complies with Universal Serial Bus Rev. 2.0 specifications
* High speed transfer TX data rate up to 150 Mbps
* Supports WPS by S/W
* Supports wireless data encryption with 64/128-bit WEP, WPA, WPA2, TKIP, AES
* Wide Range coverage
* Compliant with FCC Part 15.247 for US, ETS 300 328 for Europe
* Works with Windows 2000, XP 32/64, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64.

Specifications:

- IEEE 802.11b/g/n standard
– USB 2.0 standard
– Up to 150Mbps for 802.11n connections
– Frequency Range: 2.412~2.483 GHz
– Receive sensitivity 11b: -92dBm, 11g: -76dBm, 11n: -73dBm@HT20, -70dBm@HT40

Want to further analyze signals? Use a Spectrum Analyzer ($40+).

If you are looking for an economical solution the 2.4 Ghz Spectrum Analyzer by  Ubiquiti  is an excellent buy and is around $40+ – with an external antenna (AirView software is free)  My recent purchase for our class (personal purchase) is an excellent production and teaching tool.

A Spectrum Analyzer normally cost several hundred dollars.  This solution is an excellent solution for viewing the distribution of RF energy in the 2.4GHz band.   By viewing the analyzer, you can determine which channel has the least interference and select an appropriate channel for maximum performance.

See How it works- Link

Product Information

You must purchase the hardware in order to use the software.

Excellent Product for the money.

Over-Provisioning and SSDs

Over-provisioning is the allocating of a specific amount of free space on your SSD.  Over-provisioning improves SSD endurance and performance.   Many SSDs are packaged with software that helps the end user install the drive and to plan for OP.  (More advanced drives are doing away with OP).

The SSD controller manages all of the data that is stored on the drive.  While these drives are really fast, data writes are not just placed on the drive.  Data is moved around and the controller on the drive is programmed to use the drive evenly across the NAND blocks.   By moving the data around, the controller can use the free space (OP) to swap information as needed.     This in turn adds life to your SSD.  Always update your SSD firmware, use the manufacturer’s software for OP if your drive recommends it and don’t forget to trim your hard drive.  TRIM allows for the removal of junk or old data.  How? Easy – Open a command prompt (as Admin)

Type the following – fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify 0

Over-provisioning in Samsung Magician’s software.

OP

Always load the drivers – Below is Intel Drivers on my laptop vs. Windows 8 generic drivers

drivers

Windows 8.1 SSD Optimization

If you have install an SSD to Windows 8 or 8.1, and you aren’t sure if the OS is optimized for an SSD. Here’s the fastest way to make sure it is optimized.

Open a CMD prompt as an Administrator
Run winsat formal
Defrag will remain on, that’s right, on. After ‘seeing’ the SSD, this tool (defrag) will become optimize and will trim your SSD.
Of course AHCI should be on, over provisioning accounted for and the proper chipset drivers loaded.

Configuring WDS to extend your wireless network

Want to extend your network and make it more reliable and robust?   

Here’s what you will need -

  • Two routers with the same firmware
    • Preferably Tomato or DD-WRT

Login to the first router.  

In this example, the static number 192.168.1.1 is the Main router.

  • Enable the WAN to match your ISP  
  • Enable DHCP
  • Enable Access Point + WDS  (Picture two below)
    • You must have the same wireless configuration on both routers
      • Enter the MAC address of router two under WDS Link with.

Router 1 no 1

Router 1 no 2

Login to the second router

  • Disable the WAN
  • Disable DHCP
  • Assign the router a static IP address (Below we have given the router .250)
  • Enter Router One’s IP Address for the Gateway
  • Enter a DNS of your choice
  • Make the wireless configuration the same as the first router.  Under WDS, change the drop down to automatic.

Router 2 no 1

Router 2 no 2

With the same settings, you can now extend your network several hundred feet under the right conditions.  Because the SSIDs are the same, once you join one of the routers with a smartphone or laptop, it will seamlessly change to the stronger signal.

With Tomato, you can chain together approximately 12 devices.

Links-

Tomato RAF

Shibby’s Tomato

DD-WRT

Note; The IP addresses and MAC addresses are in a lab environment.

How does it look on a network map?  The two routers are actually connected together.  The switch is the four ports on the back of the router closest to the internet.

Map

HP Pavilion 11 x360 Review

I usually don’t review hardware products but I felt a need to review HP’s Pavilion 11t-n000 x360.   

My father-in-law wanted a Microsoft Surface but still wanted a keyboard and the functionality of a laptop.   He also wanted to avoid the expense of a Microsoft Surface and wanted something with a small profile, light weight, lots of storage and plenty of ram for traveling.  He found the HP Pavilion 11 x360 that has the following features:

  • Quad core Pentium 2.17 Ghz
  • Windows 8.1 64bit
  • 4 GB DDR3 
  • 500 GB HD 
  • Beats Audio
  • less than 1″ profile
  • Screen 11.6″ (Touchscreen)
  • Gyros built in
  • 1 -USB 3.0
  • 2 -USB 2.0
  • Wireless 802.11
    • Miracast compatible 
  • Ethernet Port
  • 5 hour battery life (45 watt AC adapter)
  • SD Mediacard Reader
  • 12.12 x 8.46 x 0.86 in 
  • 3.08 lbs
  • HDMI
  • TruVision Webcam
  • 1 year warranty

I expected the laptop (netbook?) to be slow.  I was surprised at how responsive it was with 4GB of RAM.  It is by no means a powerful gaming computer but is a match for home, business or school users.   The pc is upgradeable to 8GB and a hybrid hard drive which would make a difference in performance.  Is this necessary for the typical user?  Probably not.

Once you setup a Microsoft account, Windows 8.1 has the Microsoft store (which now has over 400,000 apps ) and OneDrive to backup and sync pictures, files and more. 

With the HP Pavilion 11, you can fold the keyboard to have a tablet or you can flip the keyboard down and use the pc in ‘tent’ mode so it supports the tablet functionality.   Folding the keyboard under the touchscreen gives you a tablet.   The touchscreen is very responsive to the slightest touch.   

20140817_135729      20140817_135748

At $399,  I don’t know why you would buy a laptop or a tablet.   

More Information

 

Windows Updates will not install on Windows 7, 8 or Servers

Windows Updates may have an inconstancy that prevents the installation of updates or service packs.  Here’s what you should do -

Windows 8

At an elevated command prompt, type – DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

Windows 7

(32 Bit)
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=3132
(64 Bit)
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=20858 

Reset and Fix Windows Updates

The following commands help to reset Windows Update History along with resetting and re-registering components.  Open an elevated command prompt and type (or copy and paste) the following-

(References below –  double check before running)

net stop bits
net stop wuauserv
net stop appidsvc
net stop cryptsvc
rmdir %windir%\softwaredistribution /s /q
Del “%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Application Data\Microsoft\Network\Downloader\qmgr*.dat”
sc.exe sdset bits D:(A;;CCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRRC;;;SY)(A;;CCDCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRSDRCWDWO;;;BA)(A;;CCLCSWLOCRRC;;;AU)(A;;CCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRRC;;;PU)
sc.exe sdset wuauserv D:(A;;CCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRRC;;;SY)(A;;CCDCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRSDRCWDWO;;;BA)(A;;CCLCSWLOCRRC;;;AU)(A;;CCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRRC;;;PU)
cd /d %windir%\system32
regsvr32 /s wups.dll
regsvr32 /s wups2.dll
regsvr32 /s wucltui.dll
regsvr32.exe /s msxml.dll
regsvr32.exe /s msxml3.dll
regsvr32.exe /s msxml6.dll
regsvr32.exe /s actxprxy.dll
regsvr32.exe /s softpub.dll
regsvr32.exe /s atl.dll
regsvr32.exe /s urlmon.dll
regsvr32.exe /s mshtml.dll
regsvr32.exe /s shdocvw.dll
regsvr32.exe /s browseui.dll
regsvr32.exe /s jscript.dll
regsvr32.exe /s vbscript.dll
regsvr32.exe /s scrrun.dll
regsvr32.exe /s wintrust.dll
regsvr32.exe /s dssenh.dll
regsvr32.exe /s rsaenh.dll
regsvr32.exe /s gpkcsp.dll
regsvr32.exe /s sccbase.dll
regsvr32.exe /s slbcsp.dll
regsvr32.exe /s cryptdlg.dll
regsvr32.exe /s oleaut32.dll
regsvr32.exe /s ole32.dll
regsvr32.exe /s shell32.dll
regsvr32.exe /s initpki.dll
regsvr32.exe /s wuapi.dll
regsvr32.exe /s wuaueng1.dll
regsvr32.exe /s wuweb.dll
regsvr32.exe /s qmgr.dll
regsvr32.exe /s qmgrprxy.dll
regsvr32.exe /s wucltux.dll
regsvr32.exe /s muweb.dll
regsvr32.exe /s wuwebv.dll
regsvr32 /s wudriver.dll
net start bits
net start wuauserv
net start appidsvc
net start cryptsvc
bitsadmin.exe /reset /allusers
ipconfig /flushdns
netsh winsock reset catalog

References:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/914392
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/299357
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971058

Wi-fi takes a long time to find network after computer sleeps

After your computer goes to sleep, do you notice it takes a long time to connect to your wireless router?
slow
There can be several reasons for this.

Here are some tips~

  • Power management on the adapter is enabled
    • Disable in the Device Manager
  • Advanced Power Management
    • Disable under Power Options (Advanced)
  • Bluetooth Interference
    • Disable under the advanced tab on the wireless network card properties
  • Outdated Driver
    • Updated the driver from the manufacturer of the wirelesss chip and not from the computer’s support site
  • Disable the Virtual Wi-fi under the device manager if you don’t use Adhoc

Advanced Power options – Set to Max Performance

advanced wifi

Disable Bluetooth settings

 

Bluetooth

Disable Power Management

 

network power device manager

 

Use the following freeware to see if you have channel interference and to analyze the power in each room of your home or business:

Vistumbler
NetSurveyor
Xirrus

 

Ultimately, reset your network by going to a command prompt as an administrator and type the following:

netsh int ip reset reset.log
netsh int ipv6 reset reset.log
netsh winsock reset catalog
nbtstat -r
nbtstat -RR
ipconfig /flushdns

Restart your computer