Check Out On Hotel Wi-Fi Fees

Many hotels still charge money for Internet connections, and just because you pay an extra $10 a night doesn't mean that it'll work well. Instead of paying--or before you click that approve button--try finding a free network nearby, even in the hotel lobby.

On a laptop, use an application such as inSSIDer to constantly scan for open networks. I've even found signals from coffee shops or cafes that reach into a lobby, but you might have to walk outside the hotel to find a suitable signal.

Just leave inSSIDer running, and it'll scan for networks. If you find one that doesn't require a password to log in--keep an eye in the Security column--connect through the Networking and Sharing Center. (You can often reach this directly by right-clicking a Wi-Fi or network icon in the System Tray.)

You can also often buy similar software for a Wi-Fi-capable mobile phone. Many utilities serve the same purpose on an iPhone, for example, such as WiFiTrak. And once you locate a good network, you can return with the laptop.

Keep an eye on conspicuously named networks, too, such as ones that share the name of a restaurant. Even if there's a password, you might be able to sign-in for the cost of a cup of coffee.

But remember that these connections--even your paid hotel Wi-Fi--are insecure. Consider protecting your email and other data with encryption.

Zack Stern frequently contributes PC World. He's based in San Francisco.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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