Please help me optimize my home network.
June 29, 2010 9:35 PM   Subscribe

Please help me optimize my home network.

Since moving into my new house, I've been hard-pressed to make my home internetwork fit my needs. Here are the details:

I am running a connection from Comcast into a cable modem.

The cable modem is plugged into a D-Link DI-524, which is an 802.11g wireless router.

The router is sending a signal to three different machines:

1. A Playstation 3, about 75 feet away and through one wall.
2. A laptop (XP SP3), about 80 feet away and through one wall.
3. My main PC (XP SP3, recently formatted), a mere 20 feet away but through two walls, one of which has glass on it.

Note: There is no wired connection besides the cable modem going into the router.

The wireless signal doesn't have much of a problem getting to the PS3 or the laptop. I watch Netflix-On-Demand and MLB.TV through the PS3 without any issues, and the laptop's internet surfing is fine. The signal is admittedly not as strong as it could be: The PS3 shows 88% strength, and the PC shows 48 mbps...but this is a quibble, as everything I do with these machines works well.

The problem comes with my main PC. It has a connection ranging from 12 mbps to 18 mbps, and this is noticeable when I'm doing some heavy uploading or downloading. More importantly, it's noticeable because I use the PC as a server for movies, music, and photos streaming to the PS3, and content takes unbearably long to load.

My hunch is that the hardware in the PC - the Netgear Wireless USB WG111 - is the problem. It's old (2004), and I'm guessing it just isn't sending or receiving data as quickly as a newer piece of hardware might. Thoughts?

And the bottom line: What can I do to optimize my network, and more specifically, move this content from the PC, over the network, and into the PS3 faster?
posted by st starseed to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: One quick test that I'd perform ... what happens when you carry the laptop over to where the desktop is? Does the reception drop to a similar level than what you're getting on the desktop? Or is it still 100%?

That would give you an idea as to whether the problem you're having with the desktop is related to its WLAN card or if it's environmental. If the laptop is slow, then you will need to think about moving the desktop (or at least the USB wireless adapter) around a bit for better reception.

The WG111 is a 802.11/g card, which ought to be fine; if you wanted to use 802.11/n you'd need a newer card, but not for the g flavor supported by your router. Just because it's from 2004 doesn't mean you need to run out and replace it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:54 PM on June 29, 2010

Make sure the wireless channel you're on is not crowded. Make sure you have no other 2.4GHz band devices at your location. Try adding a larger antenna to your router, or to your computer. But really, interference is going to cut down your distance more than anything else.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 4:18 AM on June 30, 2010

>a mere 20 feet away but through two walls, one of which has glass on it.

Every wall is going to decrease your SNR. Sometimes glass has a coating on it that partly blocks radio waves. How does your laptop fare in that room? If it gets a substantially better signal then perhaps its time to upgrade the wifi card in that PC.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:53 AM on June 30, 2010

Also, you might want to look into powerline networking if the problem is the location. This linksys seems to be a decent model.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:54 AM on June 30, 2010

Best answer: Something like this with an external antenna that you can position can make a huge difference. Also if there is a hallway path to your desktop make sure all the doors are open and test it then.
posted by white_devil at 9:34 AM on June 30, 2010

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