Question: How Strong Is Your Wi-Fi Wireless Signal?
The performance of a Wi-Fi wireless network connection depends in part on signal strength. Between a computer and wireless access point, the signal strength in each direction determines the data rate available on that connection.
Answer: To determine the signal strength of your Wi-Fi connection at any point in time, use one or more of the following methods:
- Operating system utilities - Microsoft Windows (and other network operating systems) contain a built in utility to monitor wireless network connection status. In the Network Connections section of Control Panel, opening the Status window of the Wireless Network Connection icon reveals a Signal Strength meter. This meter shows up to five green bars representing the current strength on a quality scale from "Very Low" (1 bar) to "Excellent" (5 bars).
- Wireless adapter utilities - Some manufacturers of wireless network hardware and/or notebook computers provide software applications along with the hardware that also monitor wireless signal strength. These applications often report signal strength and quality based on a percentage from 0-100%.
For example, a connection with an Excellent 5-bar rating in Windows may show in IBM ThinkVantage Access Connections as Excellent with a percentage rating anywhere between 80-100%. These percentages are based on actual radio signal levels maintained by the wireless network adapter, in decibels (dB).
- Wi-Fi locator devices - Resembling a keychain, a Wi-Fi locator device is designed to detect signal strength of nearby wireless access points. Most Wi-Fi locators use a set of between four and six LEDs to indicate signal strength in units of "bars" similar to the Microsoft Windows utility. Unlike the above methods, Wi-Fi locator devices do not measure the strength of your actual connection, they only predict the strength of a connection.