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December 4, 2020

Toolkit Item: Wifinian Wi-Fi Utility


Here’s a good tool, if a narrowly focused one. It’s a UWP app that helps users monitor and manage Wi-Fi connections in Windows 10. A cleaned-up version appears as the lead-in graphic for this story, which shows known Wi-Fi connections in my vicinity. Those in blue are up and running right now, ready for access and use. The Xarbor WAP is right next to my desk, so it shows signal strengths in the high 90s. The MySpectrum device is in the master bedroom closet, about 30 ft (8.5 m) away, and shows the typical drop-off for 5G vs 2G (70% vs 82%, respectively). The two items in black aren’t presently active as Wi-Fi hotspots or access points: the first is my son’s cellphone. The second is a Verizon 4G ZTE hotspot that I keep around for lo-fi Internet access in case our Spectrum GbE service goes down (and for use in the car or away from home).

More About Wifinian

Wifinian is a GitHub project, whose latest release as I write this is Ver 2.4.1. It provides the means to see and control Wi-Fi connections known to the PC on which it’s run. So far, my only beef is that when run in a remote session, it automatically leaves the screen when session focus changes from the remote desktop to something else. That said, Wifinian remains present in the notification pop-up and is easily returned to visibility by clicking on its simple icon (three tiny Wi-Fi icons in a perfect equilateral triangle).

The three controls at the top come with the following meanings and capabilities:

+ Rush — Run a rescan of wireless networks in short intervals (the number to the right, default = 30, indicates how many seconds elapse between intervals).
+ Engage — Make automatic connections. This works by selecting from among Wi-Fi access points operating above a signal strength threshold (50% is the default value, as shown in the number to the right of Engage in the lead-in graphic). In choosing a WAP to which to connect, the tool also considers priority order (higher in the list items are selected before those lower in the list). The author also mentions “automatic switch settings of wireless profiles” which apparently lets the tool switch among items for which this option is enabled inside Wifinian (by default, as the lead-in screencap shows, none of the Priority 2 and lower active Wi-Fi items have Auto Switch enabled). In fact, Wireless Profile is what Microsoft calls each entry in the Wifinian display (and under the Manage Known Networks entry in Settings → Network & Internet → Wi-Fi).
There may be some subtlety I’m missing here, but Wifinian’s selection criteria look and act like a straightforward combination of signal strength and priority order. Aha! The “Remarks” section provides some insight: “Automatic connection by Engage function applies only to wireless profiles whose automatic switch are enabled. If a profile whose automatic switch is not enabled has been already connected, automatic connection will not be executed.” I understand this to mean that if Engage is clicked, Wifinian will automatically choose a Wireless Profile with the highest signal strength that has Auto Switch enabled, even if the top priority item is present and available (but with a lower signal strength, presumably). Enabling Auto Switch is what makes this possible.
+ Organize — When you click this item at top, a movable “control box” appears in any Wireless Profile selected in Wifinian. This puts an “Up/Down” control that lets the user move the highlighted up or down in the priority order. A “Delete” button (which requires additional confirmation) removes the selected Wireless Profile from the Wifinian display. I used this capability to clean up pointers to all the hotels and law offices I’d visited in the last 2 years before I took the lead-in screenshot. Interestingly, those items still appear in Settings → Network & Internet → Wi-Fi under Manage Known Networks.

Users can also connect to or disconnect from a wireless network using Wifinian, rename a wireless profile (press and hold its name for a few seconds), or enable/disable Auto Connect and Auto Switch settings for Wireless Profiles. Simple, straightforward, and easy to use. Definitely a keeper for those who must change among a rotating collection of Wireless Profiles, or whose past and future travels may involve interacting with lots of Wireless Profiles. Good stuff!

[Note: Thanks again to Ghacks.net and author Ashwin for turning me onto this nifty little utility. His story is entitled View your Wi-Fi signal strength, auto switch to the better connection with Wifinian. It’s worth a read for the curious or interested.]

 

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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