Three Things I Like: AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer

Readers of this blog may have noticed that my frequency of blogging has waned in 2011, so it's time for some self-motivation. I'm going to start a series of blog posts titled, "Three Things I Like" and apply to all sorts of WiFi (and possibly even some non-WiFi) topics. I'm going to start with a darned good WiFi sniffer, Fluke Networks' AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer.

AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer from Fluke Networks has long been the leading WiFi protocol analyzer by market share. It has also long been one of my favorite tools to use when helping others learn about WiFi. Here are three things that I like about AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer.

  1. Pre-made device filters. When you navigate to the Infrastructure screen (fourth icon from the left in the navigation menu that sits in the far lower left hand corner of the screen), any time you click on an access point (AP) or station, the software immediately starts showing you statistics on frames that are traveling to or from that device only. This is a massive time saver, as in WildPackets OmniPeek or Wireshark, you have to create all filters manually.  I use this to attempt to isolate which station or AP is using low rates or experiencing high Retry percentages (the tell-tale signs that WiFi performance is middling or at some point will be). 
  2. The Find tool. No matter where you are in the AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer interface, you can always use the Find tool. Just right click on a device (it works best for APs, but you can try it with stations as well) and select Find. At that point you'll be immediately sent to the WiFi Tools screen and into the Find tool. When you click Start you'll see a signal meter become active. If you start walking around, the signal meter will help you find the location of the device you're looking for. To make things even easier, try the Ubiquiti SR71-USB adapter with a directional antenna. Ed note: Long time AirMagnet trainer Keith Parsons commented that he prefers using omni-directional antennas because sometimes the back lobe coverage of a directional antenna can sort of confuse the Find tool. Keith has forgetting more about AirMagnet than most people will ever know, so I trust his advice here.
  3. The Diagnostics tool. The Diagnostics tool is similar to the Find tool in that you can launch it by right-clicking on any device anywhere in the software, but different in that it is more useful for stations than APs. The real usefulness of the Diagnostics tool to me is that you can use it to see a summary of the frames being sent during WiFi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2 authentications. If you know what a Preshared Key (PSK) or 802.1X/Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) handshake is supposed to look like, you can use the Diagnostics tool to pick out anomalies that might reveal the source of your problem.
There you have it; three things I like about AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer. Next up: Chanalyzer 4. If you have a topic that you'd like me to do a Three Things I Like blog post about, email me at


  1. Looking forward to your review of Chanalyzer 4. Do you have the Pro version with a DBx to use for the review?

  2. Having taught thousands of people to use the AirMagnet 'Find' tool... I've found it much easier to use the integrated Omni antenna than an external one. Most external antennas have back and side lobes - which when outdoors aren't a problem - but when used indoors can cause 'issues'.

    My advice - stick with the Omni and *move your feet* to get a differential. Most students can find a target AP this way in under 5 minutes.

    Keith Parsons

  3. Keith: Good point. I'll add that to the update.

    Devin: I have DBx and I like it a lot. Less of a fan of Pro. Device classification was fair at best. Maybe I was doing something wrong.

  4. hi, i have some quick questions about the wusb600n, if you could give me a quick shout, that'd be great.
    looking forward to hearing from you, i need the help, lol.


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