Something is clogging up my wifi connection
December 28, 2008 8:49 AM   Subscribe

How do I isolate and fix this WiFi problem on my home network?

I have two computers, a desktop and a laptop, connected to my router wirelessly. When transferring a large file wirelessly from the desktop to the laptop (or to my Xbox via FTP), I'm unable to connect to any internet sites at all from the desktop. It's as if the wifi connection is being sucked up completely by the transfer. However, while this transfer is happening, I can surf the web fine from the laptop without any problems.

This all started happening only recently. That is, I used to be able to transfer a large file from the desktop across the network and still browse the internet from the desktop at the same time without any problem. I've also noticed that the same problem also happens with bittorent i.e. if I'm downloading or uploading from the desktop, even at slow speeds, I can't connect to any sites at all from the desktop but can surf from the laptop fine.

How do I fix this?
posted by gfrobe to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It could be an interference issue. I'd do this, in this order:

1. Change the channel of the router. There are three non-overlapping channels in wifi 1,6, and 11. So if you are on 6, try 1 or 11.

2. Update the firmware on the router and the driver on the desktop.

3. Try moving the router to a higher and more central location.

4. Disable the anti-virus.

Are you running torrents at the same time as these uploads? If so, shut down the torrents.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:33 AM on December 28, 2008

Just this morning I've cured a similar-sounding problem, which turned out to be insufficient RAM in the PC to handle Windows growth after a recent auto-update and some other new software. RAM was being paged and the CPU was pegged at 100%. Upping the RAM from 512 MB to 1 GB made the PC responsive and usable again, and I've added a second GB as RAM's cheap now. The problem was most obvious when we tried to do more than one internet activity -- there seems to be a Windows networking component that needs reloading frequently.

It's not very likely that your problem has the same cause, but worth checking: use Windows' Task Manager to check your PC's CPU usage. If it's 100% then more RAM may be the cure. (To open Windows Task Manager, right-click an empty space on the taskbar, and then click Task Manager; then click the Performance tab.)
posted by airplain at 11:25 AM on December 28, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks. I've tried changing the channel of the router a few times over the last few weeks and that seems to have cured my recent wifi dropping problem but it hasn't fixed this one. I've got a Linksys WRT54G with latest firmware (Ver 6 so upgrading to DDT is not easy) and this also happens when I'm not running torrents. Will try moving the router but the signal strength seems to be very strong (according to the signal meter).
posted by gfrobe at 11:49 AM on December 28, 2008

Best answer: I had a similar problem for some time ago and tracked the problem down to the wifi-card itself. It was an old one (running with the b-standard) and apparently got clogged up by the would also time-out a lot during heavy transfers. Wifi-cards are so cheap so i just bought a new one and that fixed it.
posted by kampken at 12:15 PM on December 28, 2008

Whats the make/model of the wireless card? What OS is it running on?
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:42 PM on December 28, 2008

Response by poster: It's quite an old card. I think it's a US Robotics 5046 and regarding OS I'm running XP. Hadn't thought of the card but that could be it. Will try a different one.
posted by gfrobe at 3:33 PM on December 28, 2008

I loaded dd-wrt on my router and everything seemed to get a huge speed boost. You said you would have trouble using dd-wrt but maybe Tomato?
posted by kpmcguire at 4:25 AM on December 29, 2008

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