Are freeloading neighbors connecting to your Wi-Fi network without your permission? Or are your kids secretly connected to the WiFi under your nose? Whatever the situation, it is essential to know who or what devices someone connected to your Wi-Fi network. Unwelcomed access to your Wi-Fi can not only slow down your internet speeds, but it’s also a privacy concern.
For this article, we have put together a detailed guide on how you can use your computer or router to always monitor all devices connected to your Wi-Fi network. So, wasting no more time, let’s get started:
Access your Router’s Web Backend Dashboard
Each router has a dedicated web interface or a backend dashboard that you can enter through your browser to access its settings and configurations. This is where you will find the most accurate data on all the devices connected to your network.
That being said, not all routers give you a way to check the list of connected devices. However, if you use a router from a famous, well-known brand, you should have the option.
Conventionally, you need to type in your IP address into the browser address bar. Here’s a detailed guide to help you access your Wi-Fi router’s backend dashboard.
Now, depending on your router’s manufacturer, the exact position of all the settings will vary. We have put together a detailed guide on how to find the list of connected devices on your network for different popular router brands.
Where to Find the List of Connected Devices on your Router
As we stated earlier, almost all popular router manufacturers include an option to let you view a list of connected devices.
In case your router supports this feature, it should label it under the following three tags – “Connected Device Name,” “Attached Device,” or “DHCP Client” or something of that sort.
Also, the option isn’t always readily available on the front page. Instead, it is generally buried beneath other settings, often under the WiFi Configuration Page.
Now, it’s beyond the scope of this tutorial to show you how to access the list of connected devices on all router models. However, we have a short guide on accessing this on a few popular models like D-Link, Netgear, Linksys, and Comcast Xfinity.
Comcast Xfinity Routers
For Comcast Xfinity routers, you will find an option called “Connected Devices” in the lefthand sidebar, where you will find the list of all connected devices to your Wi-Fi network.
With D-Link routers, you can find the list of connected devices by navigating to Status > Wireless.
Linksys Routers have the “DHCP Clients Tablet option,” and it’s accessible under Status > Local Network.
If you are using a Netgear router, you should find the option under “Attached Devices” located in the lefthand sidebar.
How to interpret this “List” of connected devices?
Although these routers will show you a list of all connected devices, they aren’t intelligible. The thing is, the list will contain all the DHCP Client information. It won’t give you an exact name of the connected device but tell you its IP address (just numbers), MAC address (alphanumeric characters), and sometimes it’s hostname.
It’s hard to precisely know what devices we connect to your network from this data alone. However, it is still helpful information that you can use to your advantage.
First of all, you can take note of the total number of connected devices. Now compare it to how many devices you know are connected to your Wi-Fi network. If the number of connected devices is more, then you know someone is accessing your home network without your permission.
Second, you can start switching off your Wi-Fi-enabled devices one after the other. Turning off one device will make it disappear from the list. This will let you know the MAC address and IP address of that device. Alternatively, you can also look for the MAC address of your devices and compare it to the ones shown on the list. Here’s a guide on how to find the MAC address for your device.
That being said, looking at a list of DHCP clients isn’t a foolproof way to know which devices are connected to your network. Here is a quick look at some of the cons and security issues that you might face:
- Someone might change their hostname, so you won’t be able to know what devices are connected to your network.
- Hackers can also change the MAC addresses of their devices. They can also copy the MAC addresses of one of the devices you own. In that case, your device won’t connect to your network as the router doesn’t allow two devices with the same MAC address to connect.
- If the hacker sets up a static IP configuration for their device, it will not appear on the DHCP client list.
Although convenient and straightforward, checking the DHCP client list on your router’s backend isn’t the best way to know which devices are connected to your Wi-Fi network.
Scan Your Wi-Fi Network Using a Dedicated Software
You can use third-party software to scan your Wi-Fi network and find suspicious devices. First, you need to install the tool on your computer, and it will scan your Wi-Fi network and give you a list of all connected devices that are currently online and active on your network.
Now, there is a lot of this software on the market. However, we mostly recommend GlassWire—a freemium tool, and Wireless Network Watcher — a free alternative for our readers.
For the sake of this guide, we will show you how you can use Wireless Network Watcher to monitor your Wi-Fi network.
The main benefit of using Wireless Network Watcher is that it’s completely free, with no nagging screens that ask you to upgrade. Also, you don’t need to install the software on your system. Instead, just download it, and launch it, and it will start scanning your Wi-Fi network for active devices.
Once it’s done scanning, it will show you the device names, MAC address, and the manufacturer of the device’s Wi-Fi network hardware—which is an instrumental piece of information for identifying devices.
Disclaimer: In some cases, the tool might not work correctly. In that situation, you need to specify your Wi-Fi network adapter. To do this, open Wireless Network Watcher and go to Options > Advanced Options. Now, under the “Use the following network adapter” setting, choose your physical Wi-Fi adapter. After configuring this setting, run your network scan, and it should run perfectly.
Better your Wi-Fi Network Security
After scanning your network, if you find someone stealing your Wi-Fi, there is no need to get too terrified or unnecessarily worried. Now that you know the intruder’s device’s MAC address or IP address, you can head back into your router’s backend panel and kick them out of your network.
Alternatively, you can also change your Wi-Fi password to something longer and more secure. Also, remember to choose WPA2 for your password type, which makes it extremely difficult to crack. Once you change your password, all connected devices will be kicked out of your network. Now, log in with your devices, and you don’t need to worry about other users connecting since you have a strong password in place.
Also, apart from a strong password, you can take other precautions to ensure your Wi-Fi network isn’t easily broken into. You know how the saying goes–“prevention is better than cure.”
First, if your router supports WPS, disable it, as it’s a security risk.
Second, when sharing your Wi-Fi network with guests or your neighbor when they ask for it, don’t let them log in to your leading home network. Instead, create a guest network. That way, they will never know the password for your home network, and you can monitor the guest network separately.