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Improving Wireless Internet Speeds?


dogbert
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Since I moved to my new apartment & changed my network layout, I'm getting lousy transfer rates over my wireless network when I try to stream video from one box to another.

 

My setup:

Downstairs:

modem + linksys wireless router by the sole phoneplug.

 

Other end of the living room:

netgear wireless access point in bridge mode, with 360 & xbox hooked up via a small 4 port hub.

 

Upstairs (almost directly above the router):

My PC + media server, using a small linksys usb wireless 'key'.

 

Everything goes through the router, obviously. Previously, the router was plugged directly into the PC, and performance was fine, so I suspect either the extra wireless connection is the problem or just the little key needs to be replaced by something more powerful.

 

Everything is on G, SSID not broadcast, channel 11, with some security enabled (one step above WAP, I forget the term).

 

Thoughts?

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Due to the way WiFi works, you only have three effective channels without signal overlap (1, 6, 11). If you have multiple Wireless AP's near each other, it's best to set each one on non-overlapping frequency, i.e. one on 6, the other on 11.

 

Another thing to consider is most WAP antennas are designed for horizontal range instead of vertical or true omnidirectional, so they don't perform as well going between floors of a building. This combined with the small antenna that would be on a wireless 'key' might be contributing to the speed problems.

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Ryan offers very good advice. Make sure you are using a channel that isn't a) already being used in your apartment and B) isn't being widely used by your neighbors. In my experience most wireless routers come set to Channel 6 and most people aren't going to move them from this channel. Therefore channels 1 and 11 are usually your best bets.

 

To find a channel that isn't heavily used, try the program NetStumbler. It will show you all the networks in your area as well as the channels they are operating on.

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Realised my wife's laptop has a wireless card in it, doh. Going to do some testing with it streaming to the box downstairs from where the computer is upstairs. If I get good solid speeds (I don't need /great/ speed, I want a steadier speed...), it's time to buy a better WAP/bridge for upstairs & replace the usb wireless key.

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We have been having wireless problems lately as well. When we started using Wireless we were the only network in the area. Now everyone has one. There is a long list when i use the network widget. I have swithced all over the place, but in a few months others use the same as well. Think I will switch to 1 , as no one has used that yet. It's funny that of the long list, only 2 networks have security enabled. Ours, and one other person. Everyone is is on default/linksys and can be logged into. Even shut off if anyone wanted

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  • 2 weeks later...

I hope it is good form, but I am going to steal this thread for a moment.

 

The last couple of days my wireless network has not been working at all. I am used to getting somewhat poor performance, but never like this. Usually I can reset the router and everything will go back to normal. That has not been the case. Both my 360 and my computer say that they cannot connect to the network. I wondered about security as the list of networks shows mine as unsecured, but I have it set up so that only certain MAC addresses can get on (my nephew said that provides ample security).

 

Does this sound like a router problem? Fry's is selling a MIMO router for $30 that I could pick up. The manufacturer (of mine and of the $30 one) is Airlink. At their site they mention changing channels and all that, but since I cannot even get on I can't try that.

 

Thanks!

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I used to have a wireless Airlink router from Fry's, bought for cheap. I stress the used to. It died. I replaced it with a Linksys WRT54GC and life was a lot smoother & more stable.

 

As for my own wirless problems, solved it by doing two things:

- bought a dedicated PCI wireless card for my PC to replace the USB key - got way more strength & saw a bunch more local networks straightaway.

- upgraded my XBMC installation to the new 2.0 and switched to using uPNP for my streaming, with WindowsConnect doing the job as server on the PC side. Just switching to that from the default filesharing improved video streaming tremendously. I may end up using something other than WindowsConnect as it's very basic, but it works.

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Ah, thanks for the probable confirmation that my router is dead. I'll check prices and see if I can swing a Linksys. I already have a dedicated card in the computer so at least I won't need to get that.

 

EDIT: I have found that not many places appear to carry the WRT54GC, unless their sites are wrong (which would not be surprising). Best Buy does have the WRT54G for $10 more than what Fry's is selling the Airlink MIMO AR525W.

 

I'm a little torn. I pass Best Buy on my way home, so the Linksys could be bought at that time. Fry's would require a separate, slightly longer trip. The Linksys seems to be a pretty solid choice. Is there much difference between the G and the GC? The main thing making me still consider the Airlink is that my network is already set up using one. Would it be as simple as connecting the new router? Or would I have to go through all the steps again (adding MAC addresses, etc.)?

 

On a related but separate note, is my nephew right in saying that having the MAC filter enabled is sufficient security?

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Though expensive, the D-Link DIR-655 has been getting good initial reviews on the DSLReports forum. Based off the Draft-N standard, the strength of signal is supposed to be amazing. It also has some nice quality of service features that allow you to prioritize packet information (for example you can give Xbox Live traffic priority over bit torrent traffic).

 

As I said the only downside appears to be the price, which is $149.99 at Best Buy.

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On a related but separate note, is my nephew right in saying that having the MAC filter enabled is sufficient security?

No. Pretty much the only thing MAC filtering will do is prevent someone from accidentally joining your network. It won't prevent passive sniffing of data, and it won't prevent someone from spoofing a MAC address and joining the network. Mostly it just adds hassle for you whenever you want to add something to the network, while not adding much challenge for an intruder.

 

WEP encryption is also relatively easy to crack, and WPA is recommended instead. The only issue with this is if you have devices you want to use that don't have WPA support (i.e. the Nintendo DS, really old routers). Even WEP would be worlds better at keeping people off your network than MAC filtering, though.

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Yes, you should find the options for security somewhere in the router's settings. Using the disc is probably just as easy, though.

 

I run my wireless network unsecured most of the time - I had WPA, MAC address filtering, etc all on, but toned it down because I kept needing to plug in other people's computers to fix 'em. I actually leave mine on WEP or unsecured most of the time (default passwords changed, of course). I'm only within range of one other house, a family with some little kids, and I doubt they have the know-how to hack my network.

 

Less worries about someone hacking your wireless when you live in the boonies :D

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but toned it down because I kept needing to plug in other people's computers to fix 'em. I actually leave mine on WEP or unsecured most of the time

 

Well, if you physically plug them into your network via your router or switch, then the WPA and MAC address authentication doesn't matter. ;)

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so after a couple years of not caring about securing my network i finally decided to enable WEP.

My connection is far more stable now!

I used to have huge peaks and troughs every 5-10 sec with regularity, now my bandwith monitor is practically flat. My original foray into security was with a 10dollar adapter (back when adapters cost a lot more than 10bucks like they do now) that always lost it's signal. I assumed security would slow me down if anything. boy am i glad i coudlnt' fall asleep tonight.

 

thanks all

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Hmm, maybe I should go ahead and enable the security... When I first set up the new router I took the computer into the room with the modem. Got everything set up pretty effortlessly and saw that I was getting excellent reception. Once I moved the computer back to the other room, that changed to low or worse.

 

I'm surprised there is this much problem with the signal. We're in an apartment. The router and modem are in a bedroom while the computer is in the living room. The signal does have to go through one wall and it does pass my 360 and an LCD TV (that shouldn't affect it, but I'm giving all the details). We do have 2.4ghz wireless phones in the apartment as well.

 

Last night, I was having all sorts of problems again. I finally tried respositioning the router so the antennas were parallel with the "line of sight" to the computer (hope that makes sense). That did seem to help as I got mostly a good signal afterwards. If establighing security will give me a little more stability, I am all for that.

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