Donâ€™t we all wish that at least some things in life be free? Wi-Fi is on most wish lists. Wi-Fi is an inherent part of airwaves around us. The only problem – Itâ€™s not obvious, itâ€™s shut tight and itâ€™s not free to access.
But just like free parking, there are a few places where Wi-Fi can be accessed without spending a penny. Thatâ€™s the easy part. The difficult part is scanning the airwaves in search of Wi-Fi hotspots. Thankfully, the first is accessible thanks to some public hotspots and the second, using software tools and Wi-Fi firmware.
We have cleared a lot of air with our own collection of Wi-Fi how-tos. Lifehackerâ€™s The Definitive Guide to Finding Free Wi-Fi is also an important add-on for your Wi-Fi bag of tricks. The guide takes you through three levels of need in the search for free Wi-Fi. Just how extreme is your need?
The Easy Way: Using Public Hotspots
Locate public Wi-Fi hotspots around libraries, Barnes & Noble bookstores, McDonald’s, the airport, university campus, independent coffee shop, or hotel lobbies. These are probable places which offer free Wi-Fi as a utility. Check out our Free Airport Wi-Fi Hack or our Become a War Driving Pro – Hack WEP and Wi-Fi post.
The Medium Way: Using Apps
Many free Windows, Mac and mobile OS apps enhance Wi-Fi scan and seek. The Lifehacker guide recommends NetStumbler and WeFi for Windows, iStumbler for Mac, JiWire Free Wi-Fi Finder (iPhone), WiFiFoFum (Windows Mobile) and WeFi again for the Android.
You can go online with a smartphone and check out a few web apps to find a Wi-Fi hotspot using WiFinder, Hotspot Haven, JiWire, Wi-Fi Hotspot List and Hotspotr as bookmark worthy. Also, check out Ekahu HeatMapper (Windows only) for wireless signal strength mapping.
The Hard Way: Hacking
Learn how to hookup your smartphone as a wireless router. And also the really acute way of hacking into a WEP-secured wireless network with Backtrack. Check out our own post on the topic – How To: iPhone as a Wireless Router for your Laptop.