back to article Soup up your home network

Reg Hardware Gizmo Week logo small There can’t be many Reg Hardware readers who don’t have a home network. In fact, these days you’d have to look hard indeed to find an ISP that sells its connection as strictly single PC only and just tosses in a USB modem rather than some sort of router. A decade or so ago, just about any …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are there any issues with powerline networking in a house with solar panels?

    (This is probably a really dumb question, hence a/c)

    1. 1Rafayal

      I have solar panels and wind turbines to supplement my electricity consumption.

      If you are using batteries, then as long as you can switch from one grid to another (from the national grid to your batteries) then it shouldn't make a big deal.

      But, to be honest, you probably wouldn't be running your home grid with batteries in use at the same time as you are connected to the national grid.

      I use Devolo adapters, and there is not degradation in speed or connectivity.

    2. Steve Foster

      I have grid-based solar panels, and they've made no discernable difference to my powerline network.

    3. Steve Evans

      Biggest problem I had with powerline ethernet was the BT supplied infinity modem.

      It came with such cheap nasty PSU that simply plugging it in caused my Zyxel powerline ethernet to lose sync and stop working.

      I outed their PSU and used a better one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ousted

        outed is different

    4. DiggerDave
      Pint

      Solar Driven

      My experience was that It was an issue if the powerpoints were in the same mains run as the Ethernet over Power circuit (in my case the solar panels and attempted Ethernet shared a cable from a shed to the main building). Other circuits are working fine.

  2. Nextweek

    5Ghz problem

    The major reason 5Ghz equipment hasn't made an impact at home is its poor wall penetration. 5Ghz is fine for an open room like a cafe or bar, however in a multi-room home with a router hidden in the under-stairs its not going to be a saving grace for wifi.

    Longer term the wifi standard needs to include negotiation with competing base stations.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: 5Ghz problem

      Yes, penetration can be a problem though I find that even with my thick concrete rendered brick walls, the 5GHz signal penetrates all the way across the flat, and it's not positioned centrally.

      Yes, the signal is weaker than the 2.4 by the time it reaches my laptop, but the lack of competing networks means the performance is still better.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: 5Ghz problem

      Put an airport express or similar in every room and connect them together with cable.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: 5Ghz problem

        More APs is not the answer, more APs is usually the problem.

        If you have an AP per room there is no way in hell you can have a sane frequency plan even if you tinfoil every room (and ground the tinfoil). Unless you live in a one bedroom flat of course.

        I have an AP on my work network, an AP on my router (which goes into the DMZ I should really turn off) and an AP on my home network. That fills the 2.4 band chock-a-block in 20m radius. 5GHz is slightly better (more channels) but it will get filled up before you furnish an average house.

        In any case - you are better off with a design taken out of the cellular book - sucky (but reliable) 2.4 "umbrella" with the power to the MAX to cover the whole property and "microcells" - 5GHz APs with the power to the MIN to cover only spots where you are likely to need more bandwidth - office, sitting room, etc.

        The article misses one of the biggest annoyances in a home network - PAUSE frames. WiFi is all good, but the APs are connected with something and this is nearly always a variety of Ethernet. Pause frames destroy any multimedia use and will appear in most mixed 100MB/1G and some pure 1G environments. After having to debug this a couple of times I now put "pause disable" as a key requirement for any new 1G gear. If it does not have it, it does not enter the house.

  3. James Le Cuirot
    Linux

    Dual-band confusion

    My Gentoo Linux desktop is actually my wireless router. I used to use the freebie USB adapter that came with my old Netgear router but after a year or so, it started to overheat frequently, probably because it was doing something it was never designed to do. After that, I bought the D-Link DWA-556 and I have to say it's been excellent. It has 802.11n but I haven't tried that yet because none of my devices support it. It's 2.4GHz only but that's okay because I can only see one or two other networks in this quiet Scottish suburb. What really confused me when I bought it was why I couldn't seem to find any dual-band PCI devices when there were plenty of dual-band routers out there. Eventually it dawned on me. Dual-band routers effectively have two adapters. I would need two cards. Bugger that. Maybe it's obvious to some but it's worth pointing out.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gigabit Cable

    Its worth noting that when moving from 100Mbps to Gigabit cabling that in the real world network performance will be limited by the speed of the hard drives and OS overheads. Especially if you are using a cheap NAS.

    For me going from 100Mbps to Gigabit only doubled transfer speeds to around 20MBytes/s.

    1. Jon Press

      Re: Gigabit Cable

      It's also worth pointing out that a (significant) number of cheaper Gigabit switches appear to be broken with respect to multicast traffic. Typical symptom is that your DLNA server disappears when you switch to Gigabit networking as DLNA depends on multicast working.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gigabit Cable

        Oh multicast is a whole can of worms. Most home switches, and quite a lot of expensive "pro" office ones just don't support it correctly.

        We use multicast extensively for work and have to be careful to isolate various parts of the network from MC manually. If we don't then the Cisco IP telephones go mad, our wireless AP's drop off the radar, etc etc.

        One of my first uses for the incoming Raspberry Pi (with an extra USB eth) is as a MC filter to place behind the WiFi AP. We only need G, so it should manage that okay.

    2. AdamWill

      Re: Gigabit Cable

      The main overhead is the NAS and possibly the transfer protocol you're using. Most cheaper NASes are actually slow enough in hardware terms that they can't get past - as you saw - 20MiB/s or so. But that's the NAS, not the disks. Even boring old spinning disks can bulk transfer much faster than that.

      If you actually need faster speeds, you need a faster NAS. Either build one from parts with a proper x86 CPU, and run FreeNAS or something on it, or buy a higher-end box. http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/ seems to be a rather useful site for comparing different NAS boxes; they've reviewed a lot of them, and provide comparison charts. You can see a _big_ drop-off in performance from high-end, Atom-based boxes (yes, for consumer NAS, an Atom CPU is high-end...) like the Synology DS-710+ down to Marvell SoC-based boxes, which make up the bulk of the low end.

      It is worth asking yourself if you really need that performance, though. 25MiB/sec is usually enough for most purposes. It's perfectly fine for streaming HD, for instance.

      NFS is usually faster than SMB, if you have Linux clients.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Gigabit Cable

        For home use, an old x86 would seem to be the way to go over what appears to be outrageously priced NAS hosts, especially if you do strip/mirror rather than RAID5. Yes it will chew more power, but how much uptime does several hundred pounds buy you? I keep the noise level down by poking a hole from the kitchen into the garage and putting the kit there.

        I have mythtv running with dual HD tuners (silicon dust) on an athlon xp 1500 on a single 7.2k disk. It struggles a bit with 3 HD streams, but is fine for the most part. I actually prefer the SD channels as they are faster to transcode for tablet consumption and seeking.

        As usual, greater facilities beget greater demands. I'm planning a striped system to support Win7/iscsi for my gaming host. I'll probably run dual gigabit cables and upgrade the storage CPU for that one. That will be a fun exercise!

  5. Iad Uroboros's Nemesis
    Pint

    Re: Gigabit Cable

    Indeed, I suffered from this when I got a Gigabit WD MyBook, which is now consigned to the Shame(d) Shelf. To ensure you invest in a good NAS, I would recommend http://www.smallnetbuilder.com for your research.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: Gigabit Cable

      Ha! Glad I'm not the only one who accidentally bought a one of those WD MyBooks. I don't know what I was thinking. Mine too is now sitting on a shelf, long since replaced by a proper computer acting as my home server. I bought an AMD Hudson M1 motherboard for about a £100 (comes with pre-installed, fanless APU). It sips power in the lightest of ways and comes with 5 SATA 6GB/s ports. I have two RAID-1 arrays in there and it serves data incomparably faster than my old WD MyBook ever did. I should stick a couple of cheap hard drives in the MyBook and see if I can flog it, but I doubt I'd recover the cost of the drives.

  6. Smileeee

    Hmmm

    Draytek make some great routers.

    Would be nice to see some Microtik & Ubiquiti products in here.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Hmmm

      Happy draytek 2800 user here too - 6 years on one unit and counting. My only regret is that you really need an fxo port for voip and they don't appear to do consumer voip with an 8 port gigabit switch.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      I love Draytek routers! We went through so many different routers in the office, from cheapy d-link to expensive managed cisco routers. Finally we stumbled across Draytek and that's all I use now!

      I especially like their dual-wan routers, the different configuration options and bandwidth management is just amazing. The routers also have great restriction management for handling what users can and can't do, how fast they can do it, QoS and so on.

      Yes a lot of this stuff is also available in DDWRT flashed routers but in my experience those routers crash a lot and DDWRT isn't as configurable and friendly as the Draytek firmware (not out of the box anyway, perhaps you can get the similar configuration after days in a terminal)

      Although saying that, I do use a 2TB airport extreme at home now. The power and convenience of simultaneously running 2.4ghz and 5ghz and automated backups with timemachine was just too much. Especially when I got it at 10% discount. For a home user, it's perfect, but for a business it would be rubbish, there's practically no configuration available.

      I also operate a draytek at home as a second router which provides free wifi. It's perfect for the job since I can specify exactly what users can and can't do and how fast they can do those things.

  7. Semaj
    Boffin

    Separate Router And Switch

    In my experience, broadband being faster than the LAN is not an issue. Maybe if you live in London it can be though?

    My main issue has mostly been that the routers I've been given / bought are generally only 100Mbps so it slows down transfers between PCs quite a lot.

    To combat this I bought a budget but still decent stand alone switch to connect all the PCs and 1 port used for the router. And it's wonderful :) (Wireless still comes from the router but that's slow anyway).

    Also - I ran a cable from the study (where the kit is) to the living room, in the wall. It's so much better than trailing cable down stairs. And for neatness - put cables under the carpet (there's usually a big enough gap under the skirting board for a good few network cables.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Separate Router And Switch

      Not just London, though obviously if you have BT Infinity or one of Virgin's recent upgrades, it's more likely.

      However it can be a potential problem for those who are using their laptop, say, with a cheap ISP-supplied wireless router in a built up area. Especially if they then do something reckless like plugging in a 'b' device. That 'b' device alone might drag the speed down to around 5Mbps max, even without local wireless congestion slowing things further.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Separate Router And Switch

        Indeed. 100mb is even available all the way up here in carlisle (independent ISP called smallworld - 100mb is still technically a trial but it you are on 50mb with them they will bump you on the trial if you ask nicely)

  8. The BigYin

    Just a shame...

    ...that the likes of Virgin do not permit you you connect your own router to the network. Yes, I know about "modem mode" but that means having to run two devices when one would do the job.

    I've also done @Semaj's trick of having a separate switch, although in my case it's just for the office.

    1. Tim Parker

      Re: Just a shame...

      "...that the likes of Virgin do not permit you you connect your own router to the network. "

      Is this something new, speed and/or Tivo related ? I've never had, let alone used, a router from Virgin - which is fine by me as I would tend to use my own kit anyway - but then again i've always had the base speed (0.5Mb/s when I started, soon to 20Mb/s).

      If you have to use their gear, is there an up-link connection on their stuff to act as a pass-through ?

      I ask as 'm considering a jump or two up in speeds and don't want to be unpleasantly surprised...

      1. gb030104

        Re: Just a shame...

        For faster speeds on Virgin's notwork, you need to have the new 'super modem' which has a built in router - much like the standard ADSL type.

        I think the BigYin's problem is that you have to have their modem/router, even if you just use it as a passthrough for a decent router - hence the comment about 2 devices.

        I found my Virgin supplied router to be quite poor and have a separate DSL router plugged into it, to run my network.

      2. The BigYin

        Re: Just a shame...

        I've not been a Virgin customer for log (so you'd be better off checking with them directly) but AIUI you *must* use their SuperHub for cable broadband (i.e. 30meg+).

        1. Sooty

          Re: Just a shame...

          The Virgin superhubs are a lot better now that the modem mode option has been added... I just wish there were an option to turn all the lighting off on it as it lights up the room like a Christmas tree.

          1. AdamWill

            Re: Just a shame...

            That's why God invented electrical tape.

    2. dotdavid
      Meh

      Re: Just a shame...

      I'm with Virgin but on their cheapest package, and have a separate cable modem that plugs into my router - two devices. Presumably even if you wanted to use your own router you would still need the modem part and hence have two devices. Can you even get combined modem/router boxes like Virgin's (for reasonable prices)?

      1. corcoran

        Re: Just a shame...

        Virgin now do two boxes - a 'hub' and a 'superhub' I think they call them.

        The old modem+router has been done away for a Netgear with their connection which has 100mbps ethernet whilst their 30mbps+ products get a gigabit router.

        It's a bit of a cheek, if you ask me, so I still run a router (gigabit) infront of their box and get double-Natting, which is annoying.

        1. AdamWill

          Re: Just a shame...

          with some ISPs you can call up and, if you get a clueful enough tech, ask them to flash such boxes into 'bridge mode', in which they act as dumb modems, not routers.

          1. deshepherd

            Re: Just a shame...

            I believe that with the VM "SuperHub" you can set it into "dumb modem" mode via its webpage setup interface. Probably something I'll have to sort out in a couple of months when I get upgraded to the 60Mb/s service ... I'm currently on the original 20Mb/s "XL" speed as when they moved XL to 30Mb/s my "free upgrade" involved paying £50 for a "superhub" which at that time seemed to have a fairly dire reputation + could not be used as a pure modem. Since then I think things sound better + they introduced modem mode and from what I gather a superhub is now a free part of the upgrade as they want to shift everyone to the latest cable standard so they can free the bandwidth used by us 20Mb holdouts!

  9. dotdavid
    Thumb Up

    I bought a new wireless-n capable router but was quite surprised when my N devices (all two of them) didn't run any faster than a reported 56Mbps. Turns out the G devices were dragging the speeds down for everyone else.

    The only solution I could find was to let the router provide the N network and drag my old router out of retirement to provide a G network to the same network. It seems to work quite well - N devices connect to mynetwork-n and everything else connects to mynetwork, but I did have to do tonnes of fiddling around with InSSIDer to find two free channels far enough away from other networks to work properly.

    There was also a "black spot" around channel 2 or 3 where if I set my router to broadcast on that channel I could no longer see it at all. I can only assume there's some kind of other device broadcasting interferance in that range.

    Future expansion, perhaps when I get a "smart" box for my TV, will probably be HomePlug-based although I'm a little worried as my router and whatnot are on an extension lead and there's no second socket for a HomePlug - I'm going to have to take my chances plugging the HomePlug into a socket on the extension lead I think.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      I have a HomePlug in the bedroom that's in an extension strip, and it works just fine for the devices in there - IP camera, SIP phone and audio streamer.

      Then again, in the living room, HomePlug performance was much worse when plugged into the switched spur that drives all the AV kit than when plugged in to the ring main at the point where the spur comes off it.

      So you may have to experiment to get the best results, but extension leads don't automatically kill the signal.

    2. frank ly

      re. extension strip

      I too have run a Homeplug from an extension strip with laptop and other devices plugged in, with no apparent problems (I had a short network cable and was too lazy to find a longer one). You could do some simple speed comparison tests if you had any worries about performance.

  10. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    Another good one for troublesome wireless

    Is a mesh. I installed a couple of boxes from http://www.openmesh-uk.com at £70 linked by a cable, one on each floor. Works a treat, handoff between them is fine, and they have nice features like auto-reboot when it detects a problem.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another good one for troublesome wireless

      If you've connected them with a cable, what meshing feature are you using? AFAIK the only benefit of a mesh type wireless network is that the access points can talk to each other, so you don't need to have a wired connection to each one. In fact on the site you link to it says "The routers that are disconnected will form wireless mesh links with the other routers and the gateway" which suggests that the meshing function only activates once the wired link is removed.

      I'm not aware of any technology which allows a generic wi fi client (e.g. a laptop) to roam completely seamlessly between access points as it moves into range of each one - the protocol simply wasn't designed with that in mind, unlike say GSM.

      I would love to be proved wrong though - I have 3 access points in my house, and even though they all use the same SSID and security credentials devices still simply will not reliably move between them...

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

        Re: Another good one for troublesome wireless

        "I'm not aware of any technology which allows a generic wi fi client (e.g. a laptop) to roam completely seamlessly between access points as it moves into range of each one - the protocol simply wasn't designed with that in mind, unlike say GSM."

        Now I may be wrong, but I'm sure I've seen a network where all the APs pretend to be a single AP, and the clients just think they are always talking to a single AP, and the individual APs do all the handover between them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Another good one for troublesome wireless

          If you can dig out a link, product, etc then I would be overjoyed!

          1. Nexox Enigma

            Re: Another good one for troublesome wireless

            It's called WDS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_Distribution_System

            Implementations might not be compatible across different WIFI APs, but if you build a network with all the same kit, it'll probably work. Note that I haven't tested this at all, since one high-powered AP can cover my whole house quite nicely.

            As for devices, you may not be in the right country, but I rather like the devices offered here: http://www.wlanparts.com/category/wlan.access_points/

            As for my network - I've got a policy against using wifi for anything that isn't mobile, so I'm running CAT6A everywhere (slowly.) I'll be ready when 10gbit kit gets semi-affordable. And yes, I need it, because my (rather old) fileserver can manage a sequential read speed over 500MB/s, and I can't stand waiting for transfers that are bottlenecked down to 112MB/s. Also, it's important for me to have the biggest toys.

            1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

              Re: Another good one for troublesome wireless

              Late reply, sorry.

              The mesh hardware (linked to in my previous comment) is designed to cover hotels, marinas and that sort of thing, with multiple APs linked by cable or a 5Ghz backbone, and present a single SSID. So as far as the client is concerned it's all one network. I'm not sure of the technical details but there's nothing fancy on the client (just regular laptop).

  11. The New Turtle
    Thumb Up

    I've just bought a couple of powerline plugs because we've got fed up with the Netgear DGN1000 router that keeps blocking data intermittently (even though the connection strength remains good). Loved the idea of that Solway wall socket with 4 port switch built in, but £108 plus VAT makes it a 'business only' purchase - I'd buy it at half that, but no more (if you're reading this, Solway).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      DGN1000 is hell in a little black box

      As a visit to their forums will tell you. The disconnect between the wireless side and the ADSL side seems to be an endemic problem. And when connected, speed is low.

      Strangely, it seems to be the router of choice that Orange is handing out for home users.

      I draped CAT5e behind the furniture so our laptops could be connected. Fortunately a clear-out of unused kit at work means I now have a Netgear Prosafe WAP box on extended loan for my home wireless. Variable power output, dual frequencies and a dozen SSIDs if I need it.

    2. bristolmoose
      Alert

      108 quid and no power switch on the mains socket?!!

  12. Danny 14 Silver badge
    Go

    Forgot the obvious

    Chuck the rubber ducky antenna out and put a proper one on there. Even a small humble N access point will be able to broadcast through reinforced concrete walls (especially if they have the metal "faraday cage esq" framework).

    1. frank ly

      Re: Forgot the obvious

      Can you give any links for 'proper' antennae please Danny?

      1. dotdavid

        Re: Forgot the obvious

        Presumably the OP means things like this

        http://www.amazon.co.uk/TP-Link-TL-ANT2408CL-2-4GHz-Omni-Directional-Antenna/dp/B002VYP5QW/ref=pd_cp_computers_3

        1. NoDosh
          Thumb Up

          Re: Forgot the obvious

          Nice work - 3 now on order for my BiPac

      2. jason 7 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Forgot the obvious

        Yeah often the cheapest and easiest option for wireless boosting is to upgrade the antenna.

        I have swapped out many of the crappy 2dBi antennas for TP-Link 8dBI ones and it works a treat. They often have extension cables too that means you can position it more effectively.

        Recently had a customer that was struggling to get wireless signal just 15 feet from their router.

        I checked the wi-fi traffic and found they were surrounded by over 60 other WAPs! SO I went out to the car and pulled in a 9dBi directional antenna and fired that down the hallway. That worked!

        If you cant beat them drown them out.

        Also if you can move to channel 13 in the UK. Works great but a lot of wireless gear has a US centric approach and cant access it so you have to check. Seems 70% of gear can.

        1. NogginTheNog
          Thumb Up

          Re: Forgot the obvious

          Agreed: my old DG834 has a foot-long antenna, and operates on Channel 13. I never lose any signal ;-)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Forgot the obvious

            I thought that if you made changes to a pre-licensed device, like replacing the antennae, it became unlicensed and you could be nobbled by the plod, however unlikely.

  13. Storage_Person

    Location, Location, Location

    One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that the location of the wireless access point/router is critical for achieving good coverage. The basic idea is that it should be in the middle of the house, which may not seem like anything other than the obvious but I've seen many instances where people have their wireless router tucked away in the corner of a room on or near the floor and then wonder why reception in their bedroom isn't all that.

    If you have a wireless router sitting low down in a downstairs room then try putting it on a high-up shelf. Also, if you have three antennae on the router then place them so they look like \ | / (with the outside ones at something like 45 degrees) rather than them all facing up. Between them these two simple changes can make the difference between no/patchy signal upstairs and a nice strong wireless connection everywhere in the house.

    1. NogginTheNog
      Thumb Down

      Re: Location, Location, Location

      But... if you have a combined ADSL modem and router, be mindful not compromise your broadband speed in the quest for a more central location for the wifi. Putting a telephone extension lead between it and the master phone socket is a sure way to cut those megs!

      1. handle

        Re: Location, Location, Location

        If you use the correct cable (twisted pair) for your line extension it shouldn't make any difference. The ADSL splitter does just that - it doesn't make the split ADSL signal any more vulnerable to interference than the combined signal as far as I know. There is the "disconnect the bell wire" advice which is also related to the cable not being balanced.

        There does seem to be a significant difference in performance between ADSL modems as far as sync speed is concerned. I have an old SpeedTouch 716 (modified to disable the VOIP circuitry and run on 12V DC from a switching power supply to save energy) and that consistently achieves line speed about 15% higher than a Zoom X6. This is for an ADSL2 connection of around 3Mbits/sec (a long way from the exchange). I'm worried that if I "upgrade" to ADSL2+ it might even get slower.

        As far as wifi range is concerned, I couldn't cover the whole house and garden from one point. I did consider a different external aerial but it is captive on both my routers so would be too much hassle and cost (and cheap extension leads apparently have very lossy cables). So I've just put the X6 elsewhere connected by ethernet and I switch it on if I want to sit in the garden.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Re: Location, Location, Location

          RE ADSL2+ in marginal situations. We gained a meg on or sync speed (1.8 meg to 2.8 meg) and also real world performance is also far better. So it's worth having but be warned the initial "training" period can be a little hairy.

          Also while my backup Netgear will get a slightly higher sync speed it's not as reliable as the very slightly slower Draytek.

  14. annodomini2
    Thumb Down

    Where's Billion?

    Draytek are fantastic boxes, but the cost is ridiculous.

    You can have the same reliability (if not all the features) with the Billion 7800n, for half the price.

    1. skipper
      Thumb Up

      Re: Where's Billion?

      Never tried a Billion so can't comment on them, but Draytek ridiculously expensive? Compared to the featureless crap my previous Belkin and LinkSys routers were, they are very good value for money.

    2. nozzo
      Thumb Up

      Re: Where's Billion?

      Draytek are pricey but I heartily recommend their equipment as a long-time user both at home and in my capacity as an IT engineer.

      A Draytek ADSL router was the only router that held on to sync in a marginal SNR sitution where the premises were a long way from the exchange.

    3. janimal
      Thumb Up

      Re: Where's Billion?

      I have a Billion 7800n and it is fantastic. Belkin are terrible & Netgear used to be pretty good but have really gone downhill lately (IMHO).

  15. Gavin Park Weir
    Meh

    BT Home Hub 2.

    Does anyone have any experience of the standard BT Home Hub 2.0. I'm getting rubbish transfers across Homeplug and I suspect the router.

    I tried connecting the NAS and a PC together just using ethernet (without Homepulg) to the BT router but speeds did not improve much. There could be other culprits (PC or NAS, FTP method etc) but my next plan is to change the router. Anyone else done similar and got good results?

  16. nozzo
    Paris Hilton

    Radio ham

    come on now RegHardware - it's not just radio hams that are sometimes affected by mains ethernet equipment - it's anyone that uses shortwave radio and even DAB (source: BBC).

    Imagine if you were prevented from enjoying your favourite hobby by someone else's innocent purchase of equipment? It's a delicate sitatuation and not just 'outrage' by some beardy radio types.... (me included I should add).

    (Paris, cos I would DAB her anytime)

    1. Wize

      Re: Radio ham

      DAB is hopeless to start with. I had a third floor flat (top floor) with a good view in all directions. My DAB alarmclock only picked up a signal in the kitchen. Hopeless thing.

  17. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Linux

    Upgrade your switch.

    Especially if you are using a Gigabit wired lan. Low cost Netgear Switched (in the white cases) have a much higher latency than the GS108/GS116 types.

  18. Tom 38 Silver badge
  19. ACZ
    Happy

    LANs and wireless signal penetration - powerline and Airport Express

    My house hasn't got particularly thick walls, but wireless signal penetration from the front of the house (where the router is) to the back is a bit patchy for e.g. mobile phones. 5Ghz goes absolutely nowhere, so I've pretty much given up on it. Add to it the NAS and printer that are in the cellar and really need an unbroken/unbreakable connection to the router, and I've gone for a combination of solutions which seems to be working very well.

    Before anybody talks about router antennae and positioning, it's a WNDR3700 (internal antennae), high up on a shelf, and (unfortunately) needs to be located there.

    What knits everything together is powerline ethernet - connects the router to the cellar very happily at >100Mbps, so NAS and printer resources are easily available wherever the wireless can get. A gigabit switch in the cellar also gives high bandwidth access to the NAS where necessary for big backups etc.

    The other really useful thing has been an Apple Airport Express with an ethernet connection to another powerline ethernet unit - this is at the back of the house and operates as a wireless base station on a separate (non-overlapping) frequency to the main router, but with the same network ID so wireless devices switch between it and the router as necessary. It's also wired into a pair of speakers, so we've got music in the kitchen (and elsewhere - various other Airport Express units).

    So we've now got good wireless access across the whole of the house, music across the whole of the house, and router/switch (in the cellar) providing gigabit ethernet connections for cabled devices.

    Overall, it's a nice setup, hasn't been too expensive, and has avoided the need for any additional cabling to be installed which would have been a total pain. The only downside is that the wireless guest network provided by the router is not extended by the Airport Express, but that's an incredibly minor issue.

    :)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jumbo frames

    If you are running GigE, remember to turn on jumbo frames. Going from an MTU of 1500 to an MTU of 9100 really cuts a lot of overhead on the processing of packets.

    1. jason 7 Silver badge

      Re: Jumbo frames

      Never found they do a great deal on my gigabit network.

      Have tried all the different settings from 1500 to 9000 and at best there is a 1MBps difference.

      I think the day of Jumbo frames making a difference is over.

  21. MJI Silver badge

    Wired Ethernet here

    Main PC next to home hub, small hub used as an extension to the childrens PC, a lonng ethernet cable into the living room for 2xPVR, & PS3.

    Worked out the price of cabling is less than the cost of electricity to use powerline adaptors for one year.

  22. Mage Silver badge
    Mushroom

    For many – and despite the inevitable outrage from radio hams –

    " the best way to extend the reach of your network is to use powerline networking, "

    You showing your ignorance. It's absolutely ALL users of affected spectrum, not just "Hams". It's only going to get worse too.

    A really uninformed statement!

    WiFi

    There are 13 channels, but even in Europe many gadgets will only use 11, also faster speeds use up about 1/3rd of the spectrum allowing only three base stations nearby. The highest speed devices use the entire 5.8 or 2.4GHz bands.

    1. Cupboard

      Re: For many – and despite the inevitable outrage from radio hams –

      Yes it will affect radio "hams", but not using it would affect people with houses, it isn't a one sided thing!

      And given some of us live in rented houses with no sensible way of routing cables, there has to be something to be said for something that allows us something better than WiFi.

      1. Snar
        Mushroom

        We all need to be concerned about EMC!

        Power Line Networking devices do not meet the EMC standard (EN55022) that they claim to. When tested independently, they fail emissions tests by a factor of about 10,000. The manufacturers use CISPR Committee Drafts (most notably CISPR/I/89/CD) which were withdrawn and not adopted to try to claim conformance.

        In fact, Ofcom commissioned ERA Technology, an independent EMC test house to test representative PLT products to EN55022 in 2008. The devices failed by up to 39.4dB. The Executive Summary of the test report concluded "It is considered that the Ethernet Powerline Adaptors do not satisfy the essential requirements of the EMC directive; emissions could potentially cause interference to communications equipment." This document was released as part of a FoI request to the CAA.

        Conformance to EN55022 s non-compulsory, but conformance to the essential requirements is, so the upshot of the report is that the products do not comply with the law.

        Why is this important to us all? Because it opens to door for manufacturers to totally disregard EMC regulations. We have already seen products marketed as Gigabit PLT's cause interference to DAB and FM radio reception because of their use of 50-320MHz as well as Short Wave. They also caused concerns within the CAA which apparently lead to Solwise introducing a an optional firmware update to allow their Gigabit PLT users the option to to reprogramme their PLT's to avoid using the International VHF Aeronautical band. There is no limit to the amount of RF that these products could use, ergo there is no limit on the potential interference that the products can produce. In the marketing quest to increase top-line bandwidth, a manufacturer can either increase power levels or bandwidth or both. The upshot? A consumer can no longer buy a product safe in the knowledge that it's not going to affect something else in their home.

        Why is the law being allowed to be flaunted? Because the EU do not want to put barriers to trade in place. In an email correspondence I had with Gunter Verheugen, as EC Vice President, he stated that the EU stance was "A permissive but cautious approach be adopted towards PLT" and "Proponents of the technology argue that it can be deployed without any problem" which has been empirically proven not to be the case.

        Further evidence of this was a draft press statement from GCHQ expressing their concerns with PLT interference to their operations which happened to be revoked prior to release.

        Burying our heads in the sand and thinking that interference issues are only affecting hams is very short-sighted. We are heading towards a market where the compatibility of EMC will cease to be the case.

        ...-.-

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've just bought a new house in a BT infinity area. I work in networking so one of the first DIY jobs I took on was to put Cat5e throughout the house with a 24-port patch panel. I don't understand why people will relentlessly pursue a wireless solution when a superior wired solution already exists. Even in rented accomodation you can run a single Cat5e without a massive effort.

    I am seriously looking at putting in a 1Gbps switch with POE. The only thing putting me off is the prices, you're looking at a minimum of £200.

    1. jason 7 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      "I don't understand why people will relentlessly pursue a wireless solution when a superior wired solution already exists."

      Erm maybe because you are a network installer and most other people aren't?

      Also more and more people are using laptops and tablets and they look crap hooked up with ethernet while sat on your lap in front of the tv.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Absolutely...

        Well, original commenter: I'm happy for you, and wish you all the best with your fabbo Gigabit home LAN.

        And yes, I'm envious, and not a little miffed. We're currently using 200Mbps (ha ha ha) HomePlugs to cart network traffic around our house, and I'd dump them tomorrow if I could install Gigabit-capable cabling around the place. The radio interference issue isn't the main reason for my discontent (though it's a fringe benefit): the HomePlugs are just too darn slow, especially for big file transfers around the LAN. It's often quicker for me to walk downstairs to the NAS (a Synology) with a USB drive, than it is to do a network transfer over HomePlug, and that Ain't Right...

        Installing Cat5e cables, running them between floors, and doing so in a way which isn't unsightly and amateurish, is currently beyond my abilities. If there was someone in our area who could do this without making a mess of our walls, and do so affordably, they'd clean up.

  24. John Currie
    Meh

    Draytek

    Interesting, it#s worth noting that the 2820 router only has 1GB port, the others are 10/100.

    I'm a Draytek reseller and an avid user of them, and they are well priced units if you are looking for a high quality SMB space VPN router thingymabob.

    I was working late last night when I needed access to one of these things, which I didn't program, deploy or mange. But I was able to access it within 5 minutes and reprogram it for my needs. Now this was only possible with LAN access so it is kind of secure I suppose.

    Basically none of these routers are safe and are vulnerable to a draytek 'backdoor' which the manufacturer has programmed into the firmware.

    I don't know whether to laugh, rejoice or cry at this news to be honest, but there you go.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    congestion?

    I can 'see' >150 APs out the back and a different >150 out the front. Using Alfa awus036nh and inssider .. am checking out 5HZ band it seems quiet.

  26. doveman

    Gb routers too expensive

    I'd love to either replace my 100M ADSL modem/router or add a Gb router behind it to network my two PCs, but at £50+ it's not economical, so I'll probably just add Gb NICs (about £4 each) to both PCs and link them directly and leave the 100M NICs connected to the router.

    Maybe one day my ISP will upgrade my router!

    1. Snar

      Re: Gb routers too expensive

      I'm on Virgin, and each time there is a network problem, they always blame my router and want to throw new ones at me.....

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Wireless woes

    One of the simplest solutions is to set up some repeaters. Companies such as Edimax sell inexpensive boxes that can either repeat the existing frequency for you, or you can wire them in and they can work as an extra base station.

    This pretty much solved all our problems in town. 3 base stations all on different frequencies but with the same SSID.

    At home I have one of the same Edimax units that just picks up the signal of the main router and boosts it out into the garden. Useful when listening to online radio when mowing the lawn etc.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Powerline adaptors

    Horrid things. Being someone who likes to listen to the footie/Danny Baker on Radio 5 on good old AM you can hear the effect of these things driving past houses in the country from time to time. The noise is unmistakable as rather than the random interference you get from powerlines etc it is bursts of noise that sounds like data.

    How this is allowed I have no idea. Older readers will remember that in the early 90's some EEC regs came in that required all electronic equipment to have EMF suppression. For example people may remember the good old Sinclair Spectrum used to kick out a hell of a racket on any nearby radio (in fact if you tuned to a sweet spot between LBC and Radio 1 you could actually hear the audio for a good 50 metres).

    Lots of devices had to be either re-engineered or pulled from the market. It's why big metal shields started appearing inside home micros at that time.

    Anyway my point is that if we had to go through all that to prevent radio interference, why the hell are these mains ethernet adaptors allowed?

    1. Sooty

      Re: Powerline adaptors

      I think they sidestep it, as the interference isn't being put out by the devices themselves, but by the cables in the house that it uses. This varies with the cabling installed and what's connected to it.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i use gigabit fibre in ever room

    8 ports a room... all goes down to a bank of switches in the basement.

    but id rather show you my rolex.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wires, wireless.....

    Like others here, Wifi is strictly for portable devices like phones or hand held consoles.

    The house gets wires to each room to network sockets. Yes, It can be messy, but as each room gets decorated, the wires get sunk into walls and under floors. I Have 4 sockets just by the TV in the living room, one for the TV, one for the Blue-ray plater, one for the Sky+ box and another for the media PC, along with 2 more sockets behind my chair next to the electric sockets.

    My "server room" or the basement as my missus calls it houses most of the networking kit including the router, but has 2 wireless AP's, one for upstairs and one for downstairs.

    I cant be messing around with powerline networking, If networking has to be done then do it properly. Make the effort to use high quality cables and sockets and hide the wires...

  31. flearider
    Happy

    after moving a few months ago .. to a rented house one of the first things i did was install cat5 cable ..one to the back room 2 to the front and one upstairs .. all behind skirting boards or under floors ..4 ports to my router .. :)

    really it's not that hard ..and no i don't work in it .. a kitchen yes ..

  32. Wize

    surge protection?

    What do the powering adaptor do with a surge? I have surge protection on everything plugged into my network. A neighbour had their tv, DVD player, etc fried during one bad storm before I moved in. These things would let a surge on to my Ethernet ports bypassing my surge protectors.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    few comments

    as others have said, 5GHz doesnt get as far through buildings as 2.4GHz

    dont make your router the 'speed core' of the network. use a gigabit switch as the speed-core of the network...with the router just a leg onto the internet...100mbit for that link should suffice!

    wireless kit ...hmmm, its a wonder it ever works. yes, you can use channel 13 in the UK (and 12...) a lot of imported stuff wont...but the issue is other APs wont know...and so you'll get neighbour APs using 11 rather than dropping to 6 or 1 - and the 11/13 overlap isnt good - you might actually find you are better off using channel 11 - at least the APs can hear each other properly and stop talking over each other... they will both clash if you have 13 and the near-by one is 11 . not good.

    the author might not have had much joy with jumbos - i suspect their network kit...as jumbos are very very useful here - especially when i'm chucking VMware images around my network. 60Gb transfers very nicely - but I'm using NFS not nasty SMB so maybe thats why.... :-)

  34. Alan Brown Silver badge

    5GHz and walls.

    Powerline networking, 5Ghz acess point, problem solved.

    Fritz! already have these as integrated units in Schuko format if you don't mind using an adaptor.

    (Still raving about my 7390 and the 5Ghz is usable 2 brick walls away from the router.)

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Powerline is rubbish.

    I've bought serveral over the years. They've all failed in weeks.

    It's just crap technology. When I took my last one back to the shop the guy who took them back said he wished he wasn't mandated by central office into selling them, because they're "crap judging by how many gets returned."

    Fortunately, I have Gigabit eithernet round the house. It's a bit of an overkill, but I've got 20 wall sockets around the kitchen, 10 in my office, and two to four in every other room in the house, including the garage, and the loft cupboard. It cost virtually nothing to do, since I was rewiring anyway.

  36. annodomini2
    Thumb Down

    Solwise

    While that adapter is very pretty, £108!!!!!

    Given a standard 200AV plug is about £20, a basic 4 port switch can be had for under a tenner.

    Also their website doesn't state what speed the Ethernet ports are, so expect 10/100.

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