How to know who is using my WiFi

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Pau Monfort
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How do I know who is using my WiFi? How to find out who is using your Wifi network. Is your internet connection slow? If you suspect that a neighbor is stealing your WiFi, these two apps can help you identify the Wifi connected devices that are using your connection and help you delete them.

Is your internet connection slower than usual? Do a Wifi check and delete any WiFi connected devices you don't know in Windows Explorer or when streaming media to TV? If you suspect a neighbor is stealing your Wi-Fi, here's how to know (and send it to that country).

How to see who is using your Wi-Fi? “So someone is watching Netflix using my internet connection,” you might say. "What's the problem?" Even if you have some free bandwidth, you probably don't want other people to use your network, especially if they aren't secure, in this case just check Wifi.

If someone has access to your network, they have access to all computers on that network, and that is dangerous. They could access files you are unknowingly sharing, they could infect you with malware, and in certain situations they could even steal your passwords and other personal information.

Consequently, it is necessary to check Wifi accesses and make sure that every device connected to the network is reliable. Thankfully, there are free tools that will help you know and see everything about your Wi-Fi right now.

How do I know who is using my WiFi? See who is on your network

To check who is connected to my wireless network as a Windows user I can download a free portable program called Wireless Network Watcher (scroll down to the Zip download link under "Feedback" to download it), which will provide a list of all devices currently connected to the network, so that you can identify those that belong to you.

As a Mac user there aren't that many great options for knowing who uses my WiFi, LanScan is a decent choice, even if it costs around € 6 for full functionality. Most other apps are either expensive or have caveats that make them less than ideal. 

If you're on a Mac, skip to the “Get a second opinion” section below - your router's settings page may contain the information you need. Or, if you have an iPhone, you can try Fing.

Check Wifi connected devices with Wireless Network Watcher

To use the Wireless Network Watcher, just launch the program and it will immediately start the Wifi network scan. This will take a minute or two - you'll know it works if the bottom left corner says “Scan…” Once done, that message disappears and you'll be presented with a full list of connected devices.

Monitor Wifi network to know who is using my WiFi

The resulting list might seem a bit cryptic, especially if you're not tech-savvy, but don't worry. You can ignore the list of IP addresses and MAC addresses for now. If you are using Wireless Network Watcher, focus only on the “Device Name” and “Network Card Company” columns.

For example, I see an item called "Sweet Love" in Wireless Network Watcher, which is the name of my wife's MacBook. I see another one without a name, but with “Philips Lighting BV” as the manufacturer of the network card, which means it is probably the hub for my Philips Hue lights. 

You can double-click on a device to add “User Text” which helps you identify each device, which will help you narrow down all items in this list.

Get a second opinion

If you're lucky, you'll be able to recognize all of the items on that list, but there may be some that don't have enough information. After going through my list, for example, I was left with a couple of devices that had no names and no manufacturers. However, I was able to get a little more information from my router's web interface.

Open the router's management page by typing its IP address into the browser's address bar. (If you've never done this before, you can read more about how to do it here). Once there, look for an option that sounds like “see devices connected to the wireless network”. 

This will present you with a list similar to Wireless Network Watcher, but the information may be slightly different. After referencing the unknown devices between the two, I found that one of them was listed as "Echo" in my router interface, but not the Wireless Network Watcher. 

A little bit of Google revealed that this was my smart speaker, so I was able to tag it and move on.

Strengthen the security of your network

Even if you find out that a neighbor is stealing your Wi-Fi, there's no need to kick them out and start a fuss - you can just do it out with a change in router security. Go back to the router's web interface and find the option to change the password (usually in the “Wireless” section somewhere). 

If you don't have a password, you definitely need to start using one and it must be strong. Without a password, your personal information is available to any hacker even an amateur. Choose WPA2 for the password type, as it is much more difficult to crack than the now obsolete WEP.

If WPS is turned on, you need to turn it off, as this feature makes it easier for people to crack the Wi-Fi password. (If you want to allow guests on your Wi-Fi without giving them access to your devices and information, you can always enable your router's guest network.)

If you already had a password - perhaps it was weak and easy for your neighbors to guess - changing it to something new should be enough to kick it out. Of course, you'll also need to re-authenticate all of your devices, but you should be able to rest better knowing that all devices on your network belong to you.

Further Reading:

  • See iPhone WiFi password, simple
  • Forgotten Wifi password, how to recover it
  • How to change your WiFi channel to gain power and coverage
  • How to speed up WiFi connection on any Android phone
  • How to know the passwords of nearby WiFi networks

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