Networking 101

glenwilson

NRU Heed
15 Mar 2012
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Falkirk, United Kingdom
Networks really are a dark art and I have seen experts baffled when trying to solve issues. Often the best way is to start simple and gradually add things so you get to know where any problem may sourced - a bit like when you have PC component problems. It is also best to detrmine if the problem is a network hardware issue (cards and ports do fail), network cabling or the network software side including IP addesses and other settings. Always worth going back to defaults if you get problems and if you have quite a few devices make note of their mac addresses as it is easier to switch of a known device if you suspect it causing a problem rather than random unplugging. :)

Here is how ethernet network is set-up in the llama stable. The Super Hub supplied by Virgin is OK but the Wifi is awful. So that is run in modem mode and is connected to the D-Link router. Went for the D-Link as it was a reasonable price and was AC. Happy with the performance and can get internet at 300mbps over wifi on compatible devices.

Because there are so many hardwired devices I use 3 unmanaged switches directly connected to the router. Linking switches tends to confuse things and this way keeps it manageable. There are about 20 ethernet connected devices. There are also a few wifi devices like an Amazon stick plus iPads etc. As we tend to watch the same things on TV there isn’t much conflict. The gaming PC is connected directly to the router to avoid any contention if it was running through a switch. Ideally I would use managed switches, have an air conditioned server room - maybe if I win the lottery. :)

I have tried using the router QoS setting and have not noticed any improvement and possibly it seemed to slow things down when playing on the PC. Watching video from either the Mac Mini or the Windows server is fine. Even remote operation of the server works reasonably well.

Main issue is cabling but I have found making my own ethernet cables means that you don’t have too much excess wire and things can be kept reasonably tidy (ask my wife that and you may get a different answer). I allways reset the router about once every couple of weeks as router bloat does seem to be a feature. I did try allocating IP addresses to devices but there always seemed to be one device that would change and screw things up so it wasn’t worth the effort in the end.

It is worth labelling cables so you know what is what even if you use colour coded runs. If you are using two routers make sure you give them different IP addresses as that can cause real fun if they are bith the same. I have had fun with DNS and DHCP settings when using two routers so I try and keep it simple and make sure one has the main responsibilities.

I don’t claim to be an expert but I have had some experience at home and in the corporate environment but still find the protocols and settings often baffling.

Virgin Super Hub running in Modem mode 198.161.100.1
|
|
D-Link Router 198.161.0.1 (4 ethernet ports connected to those below) WiFi 2.5 and 5ghz
| | | |
| | | |___Gaming PC
| | |
| | |____Switch 1 (Entertainment devices (TV, AppleTV, BluRay, PS3, PS4, Receiver, Sky, Virgin))
| |
| | ____ Switch 2 (Home automation hubs (Hive, Hue, Wemo, etc)
|
|_______Switch 3 (Mac Mini Server)
|
|_____TP-Link Router (198.168.1.1)
(WiFI for the garden/garage and Windows Media backup and server)
 
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glenwilson

NRU Heed
15 Mar 2012
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Falkirk, United Kingdom
Didn’t really touch on WiFi above. There are three connections for WiFi, 2x2.5ghz and 1 5ghz. iPads and phones use the 5ghz in the house and the second 2.5ghz when in the garden. The in house 2.5ghz is mainly used for hubs, IoT devices, streaming devices like Amazon stick, Echo, security cameras etc. Keeping the stuff seperate seems to work and we rarely experience bottlenecks. We are probably lucky in that thre aren’t many people with WiFi in our neighbourhood.

I did try and bridge the routers but that seemed to be more trouble than it was worth. In the end the way I have gone seems to work for me. Having managed switches would probably help but the cost v the benefit is justified. I think if you were inveting a mesh system for a big house then wider use of wifi would be the way to go.

PS. I have tried WiFi extenders. Initially they seem to work but inevitably seem to screw up everything even when they are the same brand as the router. Many times I have had to remove them and reset the router settings to overcome the mess.

Speed tests for comparison:

Ping / Download MBPS / Upload MBPS
PC (Ethernet) 9 / 376.80 / 20.88
iPad (WiFi) 9 / 376.00 / 20.10
 
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RIZLOID

EL Gringo
NRU Member
10 Oct 2012
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I have read everything above and understand fully up to Know How... then it gets a bit tricky and I got lost.
I have one Virgin router on the second floor with only my computer wired to it, its got wi-fi and it covers the house. The wife moaned a bit when her ipad sometimes lost connection so I bought a tp-link 300Mbps wi-fi extender and put it on the first floor. Now I have full signal everywhere, next door, garden, car even the pub about 40 yards away.
3 laptops 2 ipads 3 phones 2 TVs Amazon firestick or something like that and one of those Alexa things and all works just fine. Maybe restart the router about every 4/6 weeks and thats it :cool:
 
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glenwilson

NRU Heed
15 Mar 2012
6,186
3,714
203
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Falkirk, United Kingdom
I have read everything above and understand fully up to Know How... then it gets a bit tricky and I got lost.
I have one Virgin router on the second floor with only my computer wired to it, its got wi-fi and it covers the house. The wife moaned a bit when her ipad sometimes lost connection so I bought a tp-link 300Mbps wi-fi extender and put it on the first floor. Now I have full signal everywhere, next door, garden, car even the pub about 40 yards away.
3 laptops 2 ipads 3 phones 2 TVs Amazon firestick or something like that and one of those Alexa things and all works just fine. Maybe restart the router about every 4/6 weeks and thats it :cool:
I think that is the trouble with networks, some people can plug and play and have great results and others can have issues. I am always jealous (in a positive way) of people who have no issues and it does just work. :)

A lot depends on the construction of buildings and neighbours and so on. Our Virgin router is in a corner of the house as that is where the original cable entered the house. Everyone passing by would get great wifi but inside it seems to patchy especially in the garage where there is a double brick wall. Networks are far from plug and play though and are hard to troubleshoot. A friend recently (also on Virgin) thought the whole connection was down but eventually worked out an Amazon stick was borked and screwing the network. Unplugged and plugged back in and all was fine.

The most tech calls I get from my mum are wifi/network related and most are cured by getting her to power off her Sky hub/router and then power on again.

Our iPads and phones are all on latest iOS but they all can be bastards when connecting to WiFi. Often it can be next to a router and still be saying ‘nope, not seeing any connection’ and I am going ‘it is f***ing next to you’. Even when using the phone hot spot it does the same.