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4 free wireless network scanners

If you are out with your laptop or smartphone and need to find an Internet connection, the first thing you will require is a good Wi-Fi scanner. Checkout these 4 free options you’ve got.

1. NetStumbler is one of oldest wireless scanner for Windows. It runs on Windows 2000 and Windows XP 32 bit. The 64 bit version of Windows XP has trouble running this tool and it refuses to run on Windows Vista or 7. NetStumbler can help you locate wireless networks in your neighborhood and also detect unauthorized access points.


The program is commonly used for:

  • Wardriving
  • Verifying network configurations
  • Finding locations with poor coverage in a WLAN
  • Detecting causes of wireless interference
  • Detecting unauthorized ("rogue") access points
  • Aiming directional antennas for long-haul WLAN links

NetStumbler was last released in April 2004, and since then no new releases has been seen which is one reason why this tool does not work in Windows Vista. This project is literally dead.

If you would still like to use NetStumbler, then use it with Earth Stumbler that can take the GPS-tagged Netstumbler information and map it on Google Earth.

2. outSSIDer is a free Windows software that scans your neighborhood for open, unencrypted WiFi networks so that you can surf for free. Whenever it finds one it alerts you and then tries to connect to it automatically. All you have to do is run outSSIDer, close the laptop lid and start walking around the streets.


When it detects an unencrypted wireless connection it alerts you with a sound. As the signal gets better you get a repeated ding-ding-ding sound, which means that you should stop and wait to allow the program to connect to the network. Once it successfully connects to the network you get a different tone notifying you of the success. This tool was reviewed earlier this month.

3. Vistumbler is an open source Wi-Fi scanner for Windows Vista and Windows 7. Vistumbler uses the Vista command 'netsh wlan show networks mode=bssid' to get wireless information, and then maps the Wi-Fi hotspots found into a map.



  • GPS Support
  • Export/Import access points from Vistumbler or Netstumbler
  • Export access point GPS locations to a Google Earth kml file or GPX
  • Live Google Earth Tracking
  • Speaks Signal Strength using sound files

4. inSSIDer is another open source wireless network scanner for Windows XP and Windows Vista that uses Windows Native WiFi API to get wireless information. inSSIDer helps find Wi-Fi access points and track the strength of received signal over time, highlighting the access points with higher Wi-Fi concentration. It allows exporting of Wi-Fi and GPS data to a KML file for viewing in Google Earth.



  1. Won't work?? Says it requires the WLAN Auto Configure Service - where and what is that?


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