In today’s world of home networking, wireless is the way to go; but, there are trade-offs in comparison to a wired network. The biggest trade-off is in the form of security. Wired networks are not as easily tapped into (or hacked) due that the packets of information are not broadcasted in the air like a wireless network. This is why it is necessary that you make every effort to secure your wireless network.
This article is not about how to secure your wireless network; however, if you do need a resource for that, I encourage you to read I Need A Hacker -The Importance of Securing Your Wi-Fi Connection . There are resources in that article to point you in the right direction.
What this article is about, is a small software utility, called Wireless Network Watcher, that will enable you to see what computers (and devices) are connected to your wireless (or wired) network.
Wireless Network Watcher is a portable app that requires no installation. Simply download, run and watch the magic happen. This utility will scan your wireless network and will list out the IP address, MAC address, the company that manufactured the network card, and optionally the computer (or device) name. For example, as I was writing this article I fired up Wireless Network Watcher and it quickly scanned my network and showed my desktop computer, my netbook, my router and my Blackberry Phone. Point here is, do not let this tool make you feel you are not tech savvy enough to understand it. The more you run it, the more you will understand what computers (and devices) are yours and which ones are not. It is an invaluable tool to determine if someone else is connected to your network.
Another feature of Wireless Network Watcher is that it is my go to tool to determine the IP addresses (which can dynamically change) of the other computers. I often use UltraVNC to remote into my other PCs and knowing the current IP addresses makes connecting much easier.
System Requirements And Limitations
- This utility works on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003/2008, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.
- This utility can only scan a wireless network that you’re currently connected to. It cannot scan other wireless networks.
- In rare cases, it’s possible that Wireless Network Watcher won’t detect the correct wireless network adapter, and then you should go to ‘Advanced Options’ window (F9), and manually choose the correct network adapter.
- Although this utility is officially designed for wireless networks, you can also use it to scan a small wired network.