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Whenever I require a password on my wireless network it slows to a crawl.
July 15, 2008 10:14 PM   Subscribe

Whenever I require a password on my wireless network it slows to a crawl.

If i set a password my speed drops to half (or less), if I get rid of the password - leaving all the other settings the same - it pops back up to being fast and responsive. Is it normal that adding password security would slow things down *so* much?

I'm using Comcast cable as my provider. The cable modem is plugged into an AirPort Extreme 802.11g with fully updated firmware. I'm connecting an intel iMac and an old G4 titanium laptop. But I mostly notice the slowdown on the iMac.

Up to now wireless security hasn't really been that important, but I recently moved to an area where the houses are much closer together, and it's something that I finally want to address.

Network speed is something that's really important to me. I play a lot of online games where lag is a serious concern (DotA FTW) as well as stream video, XBox Live etc.

Is there going to be a "secret setting" where I can have the best of both? It seems like I've tried every variation and option without success.
posted by ssmith to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
 
"password" = WEP? WAP?
posted by k8t at 10:48 PM on July 15, 2008


Have you tried doing MAC address whitelisting? No password required, nobody getting your connection without trying quite hard (aka security through being not worth the effort, my favourite kind)

I have no idea if it'd speed up your connection, since really the encryption shouldn't be slowing things down. But worth a shot.

By the way, if you do this, set a good password on control of the router, don't trust whitelisting for that stuff
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:50 PM on July 15, 2008


Try setting the password at 40bit WEP via the Airport Admin Utility. I read recently that lowering the encryption method should help to alleviate the problem. Also experiment with interference robustness on and off.
posted by quadog at 12:16 AM on July 16, 2008


Have you tried doing MAC address whitelisting? No password required, nobody getting your connection without trying quite hard (aka security through being not worth the effort, my favourite kind)

DO NOT DO THIS.

This is spectacularly, incredibly, massively terrible advice. It is very trivially easy to sniff a mac address. Please use some kind of encryption, hopefully WPA2.
posted by tracert at 1:40 AM on July 16, 2008


Also, I should add, you can crack a 40 bit WEP key in, literally, less than 30 seconds. Weak crypto is worse than no crypto, because it will provide you with a false sense of security. If your router or client really can't support WPA or WPA2, then you should just buy a new router or wireless card.
posted by tracert at 2:14 AM on July 16, 2008


Is it really that terrible advice for someone's home? The potential saboteurs are limited by those who can receive the signal, and further limited by the fact that only a subset of them will try to sniff your mac address.

On the other hand, if there is a particular nefarious and talented person you are trying to stop, can't they get through anything?
posted by gjc at 5:37 AM on July 16, 2008


I'd be more concerned about the traffic not being encrypted more than someone sniffing a MAC address. I know it's a pretty little hockey puck or whatever, but why not just get a WRT54G or other access point that is not known to have this issue?
posted by cellphone at 7:27 AM on July 16, 2008


Actually, I'm guessing this might be a range or access point placement issue. Can you give any details on how this is all laid out, how far away the computers are, etc?
posted by cellphone at 7:29 AM on July 16, 2008


Leave it open. Even noted network security professionals do.
posted by todbot at 9:32 AM on July 16, 2008


And make sure your systems are secure and the protocols you use are encrypted. No network is secure. Treat them all as compromised. Then if you have a laptop and take it to a public WiFi place, you won't be paranoid about it getting compromised.
posted by todbot at 9:34 AM on July 16, 2008


Is it really that terrible advice for someone's home?

Yes. This is a question from someone who would like to implement security. Suggestion will provide zero security, from anyone. Therefore, it is terrible advice.
posted by tracert at 11:48 AM on July 16, 2008


To try and answer your questions.

The physical layout is: The router's on the first floor, the computer is downstairs in the basement in the room that's almost directly beneath the router. I'd guess that they're no more than 10 feet away from each other through the floor and a couple of walls. I'm getting full bars for my signal strength.

I'm the kind of guy who has some technical background with computers - but virtually none with networking (wireless or otherwise). I've tried lots of different settings for the security options. I've tried WEP, WAP, 13 character passwords, 40bit, 128bit, Egyptian Hieroglyphics, and The Nazi Enigma Code.

I guess the real core of my question would be: is it normal/usual for a password scheme to cause my network performance to take *such* a hit. I assume that there would, of course, be at least some overhead, but the difference between using a password and keeping the network free and clear is like night and day.

(And thanks todbot for the reassurance that if I do in the end decide to go naked that it's not the worst thing in the world)
posted by ssmith at 12:40 PM on July 16, 2008


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