Improve Wi-Fi in Your Office by Finding Your Dead Zones

Last Updated Jan 17, 2011 10:21 PM EST

Does Pam complain that she can't connect to the network share from the back corner of the office? Does Steve have trouble printing in the conference room? Your Wi-Fi network probably has some dead zones around concrete walls and metal pipes. But rather than just adding routers or repeaters to improve the signal willy-nilly, start by finding your dead zones -- for free.

All you need to do is install Heatmapper, a free utility that displays the relative strength of your Wi-Fi network on -- you guessed it -- a heat map. To get Heatmapper, you need to provide an e-mail address and sign up for a mailing list, so you might want to use a disposable address.

Using the program is simple and painless. You map the wireless strength simply by walking around with your laptop and indicating your position on the screen. If you have a floorplan of the office, that's even better; you can mark it up with the heatmap. When you're done -- it takes but a few minutes -- you know exactly where to augment your wireless coverage.

The best option yet? Ask an intern to do it.