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nashish's avatar

Does anyone have tips for optimizing a wireless internet connection?

Asked by nashish (196 points ) January 28th, 2009

I just moved in with a sibling and her broadband connection is hooked to a Linksys wireless router. After using this thing for a few hours, I’m already missing a wired internet connection. I’d appreciate any ideas that might give this thing some more juice.

I use a MacBook Pro with Mac OS X 10.5.6. I also have a PC desktop with Windows XP. The router we have is a Linksys Wireless-G Router with “Speed Booster” (LOL) or WRT54GS.

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12 Answers

Grisson's avatar

Is the the wired vs. wireless that’s causing you grief? Or is it the speed of the internet out the door?

I thought my network connection was slow, particularly the internet. I upgraded from Wireless -b to -g and noticed no difference, then I realized that my cable modem was limiting me to 10Mb.

My son, (who was the one that really cared), got on the phone with the provider and convinced them that it was to their benefit to upgrade me to a newer faster modem. That’s what made a difference. Now we have about 30 Mb or so out the door.

Even knowing that I went ahead and upgraded to Wireless-N because my wired ports were going bad. 300 Mb. Very nice, but only between 2 computers that support it.

eambos's avatar

Make sure that you are using WPA2 protection. No protection or even WEP can mean that other people are stealing your internet. When bandwith is split it many directions, things tend to get very slow.

Grisson's avatar

Ah! @Eambos Good point…
And… due to the nature of wireless, if you have two computers that are widely separated from the the router, both hammering on the wireless, your throughput will downgrade rapidly.

The reason for this is that computers on a wireless network listen to each other to try to coordinate communication. (One will wait until the other pauses before sending). If the two computers are widely separated so that they don’t hear each other, then you get a large increase in network collisions.

(Got this info from my local network guru).

nashish's avatar

I did make sure to set my encryption to WPA2 and I’ll keep the locations of the computers in mind. With all that said, should I call my sibling’s ISP and see if they have a more powerful modem or should I just get out my ethernet cable? From my experience, a wired connection seems faster.

Grisson's avatar

Try downloading a large file from your ISP. (Does your ISP have an FTP site with some large files on it or something?) As you do, notice the network throughput.

On XP you could right click on the network Icon in your status tray and it would show the current speed. I’m sure you can do the same thing on Vista or on Apple, but I’m not sure how to tell you to do it.

Next try to download a file from somewhere that should be fast, but is not inside your ISP’s network. (Such as a YouTube video, or ITunes song) Does the speed drop significantly? Then your ISP might be the culprit.

nashish's avatar

@Grisson I’ve used the website called “SpeedTest” to test my connection. This connection is supposed to be 6 megabits but according to that site, it’s not even 1.5 megabits. Plus it took almost 200 seconds to get a ping back. I did this while being on the wireless connection and very close to the router. Even stranger than that, I can’t even get a “100%” connection when I’m right next to the box itself. This is all very frustrating. :/

Grisson's avatar

Try transferring a file from one computer on your network to another. What’s your rate then?

robmandu's avatar

Also, try plugging a wire from your pc into the router and trying speedtest.net again. Is it the same?

Silly question: are you certain you’re actually using the router “next” to you? and not one of the neighbors?

nashish's avatar

@robmandu I’m quite sure that I’m connected to the router in our house.

I just tried Speed Test with a wired connection and my results are the same. This disappointing because we’re supposed to have a six megabit connection, and the company does not advertise a connection less than three megabits. I suppose I’ll give the ISP a call tomorrow and see if I can get this all sorted out.

We have an ADSL connection from a company named Windstream.

Grisson's avatar

Not disappointing. It means the problem is not your wireless. The problem is your cable modem/DSL or your ISP. Good to know.

master_mind413's avatar

also make sure that the built in firewall wall is password protected you may have to go back through the set up of the router but that will sure fire that no one is backpacking on your wireless router this will extremely slow down the connection , also walls doors roof’s it is wireless and it is like picking up antenna on tv so all these things “in the way” play a factor in the speed especially concrete or bricks and metal

but I found on mine the second I set up the built in firewall i got speed again and a lot of it depends on the speed of the modem like one other said to begin with because the modem is what supplies the internet to begin with

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