OPtimal Settings for Apple Airport Extreme
May 18, 2009 6:08 PM   Subscribe

I have an Apple AirPort Extreme that is about one year old and recently our wireless network has been experiencing connectivity issues. We've played with some settings...are some settings better for connectivity than others? Do we need a repeater?

We have a ranch style house with our cable modem and AirPort Extreme in the basement. For about a year we have been running this configuration with no issues, but starting a month ago or so it seems like our laptops and wireless devices (iMac, iPhones) cannot maintain a connection. We lose our network connection and have to manually join the network again. Even when connected, the network seems terribly slow.

We fiddled with the settings and, wondering if it might be interference, we turned on the option which decreases performance but works better with interference, and the problems actually got worse.

However we think it's perhaps a range issue as sitting in the room right with the router we maintained a connection for several hours, no problems.

We think the problem may have started when we set up WPA2 Personal security on the network. Is it possible that WPA2 encryption would decrease range or singal strength?

We aren't as worried about security as we are about funcionality. Are there some settings we should change to try and increase range?

If not, what options do we have for a network repeater? Can we just get another AirPort (probably a TimeCapsule to back up my Mac Mini) and set it up to "extend existing network" or do we need something else?
posted by bodgy to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would suspect some sort of interference... have you tried changing the channel on the router?
posted by HuronBob at 6:25 PM on May 18, 2009

Did you recently aquire a baby moniter? Or security system? These sorts of things - even your neighbors, can have a big impact on your wifi. You don't mention what the network was before - WPA should be more roboust than WEP for example.

If it worked well before & there is no gear that could be causing the issue - I would suggest putting the airport back to its factory settings. More details here.

Wifi is still full of voodoo.
posted by zenon at 7:02 PM on May 18, 2009

I believe the older Airport Extreme can't operate with both G and N bands at the same time (a G-only device that connects will drop the whole network down to G). The new Airport Extreme is dual band, so a device that's G-only (like the iphone) can surf on the G band while your laptops are on the N band.

I don't know which version you have but I thought I'd mention it in case you recently bought the iphones and they're dropping the network down to G.
posted by sharkfu at 7:30 PM on May 18, 2009

Try rolling back your firmware on the base station to the 2nd most recently available version. This solved my problems of a similar nature.
posted by GleepGlop at 8:38 PM on May 18, 2009

The 7.4.1 update for the Airport is a total dog. Revert to 7.3.9 and see if that fixes your problems. Instructions at the bottom of this page.
posted by fightorflight at 6:51 AM on May 19, 2009

Along with baby monitors some cordless phones can cause problems, if you (or a neighbor) has recently gotten one. Some microwaves ovens, too.

And if reverting to the 7.3.9 software doesn't help maybe it's just on its way out. You can search here for lots of questions but generally the consumer level wireless routers aren't all that great and often seem to develop various connection issues, like flakiness, as they age. And there doesn't seem to be any one model or make that is head and shoulders better than the rest. Anecdotally, I've been happier with a Netgear and a D-Link after going through a few Linksys models, but you'll find people with the opposite results, too.
posted by 6550 at 2:22 PM on May 19, 2009

Just in case you're on a wild goose chase: the version you're looking for is 7.3.2 -- they skipped straight from there to 7.4.1
posted by fightorflight at 3:07 PM on May 19, 2009

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