Fingbox is a small network scanner. Its highlights are security features, parental controls, monitoring, alerts and troubleshooting your network. I’ve used one for about the past six months and here’s my Fingbox review.
Fing is a popular, free mobile app for network scanning. It has 10 million downloads from the Play Store and 7.47k from the Apple App Store. It lists every device connected to your WiFi network or LAN if you have one. Included in the listing are network details along with the device manufacturer and name of the device. The network details might not mean anything to you, but the other information makes it clear what each device is.
I’ve used this app on my Android phone for a few years. It’s been great to scan and discover devices on my network, but it has one huge flaw. The ability to scan the network ends as soon as you leave the house.
Before I get into the features, let’s look at what Fingbox comes with. The Fingbox itself in the bottom left of this photo. It comes with the blue cover, a network cable, power adapter and plug adapters. Fingbox setup is easy. Route the power cable and network cable through the blue cover and plug them into the Fingbox. You will also see a USB port, but that’s for diagnostics if a Fingbox is ever sent back. Once you plug in the cables, put the Fingbox into the cover so it looks like the photo on the box. Plug the network cable into one of the ports on your WiFi Router and plug-in the power. Use the Fing app to find the Fingbox and add it to your account.
I had no issues with setup. It went well and was very easy.
How To Use Fingbox
Once you add a Fingbox to your account, the Fing app gets a ton of new functionality. The Devices list lets you turn on alerts for each device. If you want to know when a device goes offline or comes back online you can set up an email alert. If you don’t want alerts, you can still these events in the Event Log for each device.
There was a device I didn’t recognize on my network and I used alerts to try to figure out what it was. It came online for a minute every night and then went back offline. Needless to say, I was puzzled. One day the alerts stopped. At some point later I recharged my Kindle. Ding. Another email alert. I turned off the Kindle. Ding. Another alert. Mystery solved.
You can also set up alerts when new devices join the network. The Fingbox also alerts you by changing to a blue pulsing light. You need to go into the Fing app and decide if you want to allow or block the new device. By default, the new device is allowed so this isn’t disruptive at all. I used this as a chance to change the label in the list to something meaningful. For example, my FireTV had its name show up as FireTV so I changed it to Living Room TV.
The other tabs in the Fing app become available after you add a Fingbox. The Fingbox tab has many things on it. Let’s look at what you can do from there.
The Fingbox WiFi performance test shows the bandwidth you get from your WiFi network. The graphic for the results is green if it’s good enough for streaming video. You have to start this test manually so it’s most useful for troubleshooting WiFi issues. If you have slow data or buffering video, you can start with a test like this to see if the problem is in your WiFi.
The bandwidth analysis test is another diagnostic test. You select the devices to test and Fingbox will tell you how much bandwidth they’re using. This is another test you need to start manually. If you have a slow network, this test could let you know if you have some devices hogging all the bandwidth. It saves the history of each run of the test. I ran a test of my high bandwidth devices such as streaming devices, computers, phones, etc. Everything looked okay, but I run it now and then to make sure things are still normal.
This is a very basic test of your WiFi router’s security. It scans your network from the cloud and looks for strange ports that are open. It also tests your network from within. If there’s a problem, it tells you. I already had my WiFi router locked down, but I think this is still a useful tool.
This is one of my favorite features. It automatically measures the speed of your internet connection and you can see how your upload and download speed does over time. From this screenshot, you can see that my download speed dipped a lot earlier this week. If the performance it very inconsistent checking this lets you know it’s time to get the cable guy out to look into the system.
Digital Fence is another of my favorite features. It shows you all of the WiFi devices and routers near you. If you read my post on speeding up your WiFi, one of the things I listed was checking the channels you’re using. This lets you know what channel you’re on and what channel the other routers near you use. It’s a convenient way to check without needing to log into the router.
Internet pause lets you block a device on your network from connecting to the internet. One way to use it is to block a specific device. Another way to use it is more like Parental Controls. You assign devices to users and schedule times where you want internet access disabled.
Let’s say that your child is named Sam. From the Fing app, select the Fingbox tab on the bottom right and then click on Add User. You can select someone from your contacts or create a custom user. For this example, create a custom user. Enter Sam’s name and click on Family and then Kid. Then scroll through all the devices and select each device that belongs to Sam. Finally, click save. After you have a user, then click on Schedule Pause. As you can see in the image below, you have the option of choosing the reason for the pause. Choose the appropriate reason and then choose the days of the week and the time.
Recent Events shows you when a user arrives or leaves, when the internet is paused for a device and when you run tests. If a device isn’t assigned to a user you can go to the Devices tab in the app and bring up that device’s event log. This is useful if you want to troubleshoot something like a smart thermostat. If it keeps losing the connection and reconnecting that may indicate that there’s a problem.
Similar Devices To Fingbox
Fingbox vs Circle With Disney
These two devices work with roughly the same underlying technology but have a few different features. Circle With Disney connects to your network through WiFi or a wired network while Fingbox only connects through the wired connection. The way Circle works is that it reroutes the traffic from monitored devices to itself. Over WiFi, this might slow down the connection for monitored devices enough to be noticeable. They both let you pause the internet for certain devices on demand or with a schedule. Circle also lets you control and track app usage and filter websites. The tablets my kids use already filter content so this is a redundant feature for me. To me, the Digital Fence and troubleshooting features are more useful for this kind of device.
Fingbox vs Cujo vs BitDefender Box vs Dojo
Cujo, Bitdefender Box, and Dojo are firewalls and so they work differently than Fingbox. A firewall sits between your internal network and the internet which makes it the first line of defense. When you use a firewall, all your network traffic flows through the firewall and it records that traffic and can block traffic if needed. Bitdefender and Dojo have ongoing subscriptions fees so I’m going to rule those two out because of that. Now let’s look at Cujo. Cujo looks nice and has about the same features as Circle but costs nearly double. Cujo has the firewall features which makes it more valuable. The big question here is, do you actually need a dedicated firewall? For typical uses the cable modem or gateway from your internet provider likely already has a limited firewall, so you probably don’t need a dedicated one. If you do need a firewall you can always run Fingbox behind it and have the best of both worlds.
Fingbox Review Conclusion
I’m glad that I bought a Fingbox. I highly recommend adding a Fingbox to every network. Even if it’s a small, simple WiFi network, the features Fingbox provides are worth having. I’ve been impressed with the responsiveness of the company too. They have a very active Facebook group where you can go find answers. There are other options to your mobile device for accessing your Fingbox. I use the Fing app almost exclusively to access the Fingbox features, but if you prefer something on a computer, there’s also the Fing Web App. Finally, there’s no monthly fee.
How to get a Fingbox
Head over to Fingbox and buy one. Tech For Non-Techies readers can enter promo code TECHIE10 for $10 off.