Wireless networking is highly convenient and generally exhibits acceptable performance for most general purpose computer use. However, for some Windows users – more specifically, for some wireless network cards and drivers – the nature of wireless can introduce unwanted latency in the connection. Chances are you’d never notice these brief hiccups in web browsing or even file transfer. Instead, the problem manifests itself in any real-time network activity such as VOIP or online gaming.
Windows will periodically scan the airwaves for new wireless networks that you may – but quite likely won’t – want to use. Certainly, if you are a desktop user with a wireless network connection you are accessing one and only one wireless network. Roadwarriors using laptops are unique in that they frequently access any number of new wireless networks by virtue of their portability.
Unfortunately, this brief network scan can introduce some latency in an otherwise rock solid network connection. You can see if your setup is susceptible to the problem by running a ping to your local wireless router. You’ll notice your pings are in the 1 to 3 ms range and then suddenly one packet will jump to 300+ ms before quickly returning to the norm of 3ms.
WLAN Optimizer is a free utility that can optimize your wireless connection and thus remove the background scans that hurt your performance. In actuality, WLAN Optimizer disables the broadcast scan ability of the WLAN AutoConfig service in Windows. Unfortunately, as the service is required to initially establish a wireless connection it’s not feasible to disable it outright.
The connection tweak is only applied while WLAN Optimizer is running; as such the portable utility can be executed automatically upon Windows login – even starting up silently. If you are one of the users that suffer from lag or latency spikes it’s worth checking out the application.