Housemates are killing the interwebs
October 2, 2008 5:52 AM   Subscribe

What do I do about sharing internet with housemates who kill it? Will a router with QoS solve the problem? Should I talk to them and ask them to change their settings on whatever programs they are using? Are there any tools I can use to which person is killing the internet and what program it is?

I am sharing 10MB cable internet and new 2 housemates have ground it to a halt.
Connection was ok on my own.
I have no proof but I suspect one of them is using P2P (Limewire, Torrent etc) with some dodgey settings.

I don't mind them using P2P or whatever, I just want the internet to work.

We are using a Netgear WNR854T router (No QoS), WPA-PSK security, all connecting wirelessly to Virgin Media 10MB in the UK.
Broadband is in my name but landlord pays towards it so everyone can use it.

If a QoS router is the best solution I've been looking at:
Netgear WNR3500 - bad reviews for QoS, worse hardware wise than current router
Linksys WRT330N - Looks ok

D-Link DIR-855
- Favourite but most expensive
D-Link DIR-655 - like the 855 but a lot cheaper

I am 99.9% sure a new house mate is killing the connection but haven't spoke to any of them yet.
Talk to them and see how it goes? QoS router?
My first askmefi, sorry if I suck
posted by sando to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Are they running windows boxes? It's very possible that they've got some sort of malware that's sending mass emails, etc.

Get something that runs the Tomato firmware. I love the old linksys WRT54G I have running it. Great QoS, very slick interface.
posted by paanta at 6:06 AM on October 2, 2008

I'd try talking first: "hey, have you seen that the Internet is really slow? I think some jerk down the street is running some file sharing program without realizing that they've screwed the settings up." And don't forget that with cable internet you are sharing bandwidth with your neighbors, so it might be somebody other than the jerk you live with.
posted by baggers at 6:07 AM on October 2, 2008

Definitely talk first. They may not know they are hurting your performance. If you want a gambit, tell them you are experiencing slowness and wondered if the two of you could compare results of one the many broadband speed test sites that are out there. That will give you a reason to talk to everyone about your problem and perhaps you can negotiate (for example only run your P2P software overnight while people are sleeping or at work or something like that).

Talking is always easier than purchasing and configuring new hardware to tackle a problem you admit that you haven't even exactly pinned down yet.
posted by mmascolino at 6:23 AM on October 2, 2008

If you have access to the router's settings you can try disconnecting them one at a time (preferably when they are not in the house) to see if you connection improves.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:24 AM on October 2, 2008

Yeah, talk to them first. "Hey, have you guys noticed the Internet running really slow lately?" Offer to have a look at their settings. Fixing the problem at the router doesn't do much to help their computer if it is indeed a malware issue. If they're resistant to letting you poke around their personal computer, then block it at the router.
posted by nitsuj at 6:40 AM on October 2, 2008

Best answer: I know from experience that heavy P2P traffic can kill normal web browsing, even if the settings are completely correct. If you setup an app to use all of the available bandwidth to max out P2P traffic, it's going to significantly degrade any other traffic. Talk to your roommates, and if one of them is running P2P stuff, try the following steps:

1. If their P2P app has bandwidth limits, ask them to turn them down to around 1/3 the overall connection speed (as measured by a site like, not the speed quoted by your ISP) for both upload and download.

2. Ask them to figure out what ports they are using, and forward those ports on your router. That will make their machine directly connectable, which usually saves a significant amount of bandwidth versus not having the ports forwarded.

3. If you still have issues, get a router that can do QoS, and set it up to give priority to HTTP traffic over P2P traffic. I've done this with the DD-WRT router on a fairly cheap router, and it works great.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:58 AM on October 2, 2008

QoS is kind a PITAS. In these situations I just set the upload max on the P2P programs to be less than 50% of the real max. So do a speed test. You might have 10kbps for upload. Set each app to do 5 or 6kbps. That usually takes care of things. Sometimes you'll need to do the same to download speed. Usually you can get away with leaving a 70% max unless they are chronic downloaders (then do 50%), but its the upload thats going to make the most noticable improvement.

QoS implementations differ wildly and honestly dont seem to work well in these little routers. You can give yourself max priority but you may not notice a real difference. Best to change the clients.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:03 AM on October 2, 2008

Either your roommates have specified an up-speed far larger than your bandwidth can provide, or more likely (with BitTorrent) they've allowed for way, way, way too many half-open connections. That means even with nobody downloading from you, you're still choked. Lower partial connections and turn off DHT if it's enabled. Then set the upload speed to something reasonable.

With cable, that means, like, 10kbits upload, MAX--that's GLOBALLY (for ALL torrents, not PER torrent). Yes, even though the download speed is like dozen orders of magnitude more. Welcome to asynchronous communications.

If they won't abide, QoS their sorry asses. Tomato firmware on a linksys (linked above) will make this pretty easy.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:48 AM on October 2, 2008

Sounds like they are either Bit-Torrenting or P2Ping all the time and using all the band-width. this will also be slowing their web-browsing down loads as well.

a lot of these programs now have Scheduling abilities so that you can limit the bandwidth that they use at times when someone is likely to be using the internet and open it all up when there is no-one home or everyone is asleep.

if they are runnign bit Torrent ALL the time then this is unaceptable for eveyone in the house and you shodul just brin git up with them tell them you doni't mind if they use the bandwidth when everone is asleep, or out of the house but can they use the scheduling to limit the band
posted by mary8nne at 8:31 AM on October 2, 2008

If it is p2p sharing, I'll second throttling the upload speed on their particular app, as opposed to fiddling with router settings and QoS. It won't affect their d/l speeds very much - I'm sure your roommate just uses the out-of-the-box settings, which aren't always optimal for sharing a connection with others. If this doesn't work (some people are very touchy about their computer), THEN pick up a linksys router that will run Tomato. Be nice - this person isn't trying to slow your connection (remember - they can't browse either!), they just don't know how to set up their program properly.
posted by antonymous at 8:36 AM on October 2, 2008

Best answer: I use a DD-WRT supporting router and QoS. The Ape slightly overstates things, in my opinion, but setting it up is certainly not the best way to spend an hour.

I have mine set up to qualify P2P traffic as "bulk" so that theoretically it is prioritized below Vonage, which I have set as premium. Even then my experience is that throttling at the client works best, so everyone above who suggests you get your housemates to throttle their shit individually has it exactly right.

The only upside to the QoS is that if you're playing sysadmin you could just throttle at the MAC level and put yourself - no matter what you are doing - at the highest priority. Marginally less cool, but justifiable if they're really penalizing you.
posted by phearlez at 9:24 AM on October 2, 2008

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