Testing your broadband and Wi-Fi speeds can help you figure out if that slow Netflix streaming speed is a problem with your connection or not. It can also give you a good idea of what kind of speeds you get at various times of the day, if you're curious.
Speedtest.net isn't just a web app. There are also apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone to test what kind of connection you've got at home, a hotel, or your local cafe.
It might be due to connection limits on hotel Wi-Fi, or maybe you're in the middle of nowhere with just a Wi-Fi-only iPad and a laptop with a broadband connection, but sometimes you can only get one device to connect to the Internet.
Whatever the reason, there are many apps that can turn your laptop into a Wi-Fi hotspot so it can share its connection with a wider range of devices. One highly-recommended app for this purpose is Connectify, but the free version has limitations and I could not get it to work on my Windows 8.1 PC.
So instead I opted for MyPublicWiFi, a free desktop program that is very simple to use. MyPublicWiFi does, however, require you to right click the shortcut and select "Run as administrator," a move that not all Windows users might be comfortable with. MyPublicWiFi also has a pretty weak default password that you'll want to change to something more robust unless you like sharing your PC with strangers.
So there you have it—three essential Wi-Fi utiltiies every PC user should have in their toolkit.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.