General Question

InspecterJones's avatar

Simplest way to network my apt...?

Asked by InspecterJones (1052points) May 11th, 2010

I’ve moved into a new apt and it’s quite long so I’ve had to resort to being creative to maintain quality speeds on all the computers in the household. I had the cable company install two separate modems, one in living room and another in bedroom, at opposite ends of the apt.

Here is my current set up:

Wifi router in the living room, into which I have plugged a HTPC and a NAS that contains all of our important files, pictures, tv shows, movies, etc. We have two laptops, one of which is currently being used as my main computer.

The bedroom contains the second modem, the only thing in there currently is my aging desktop, which will soon be being replaced by a new comp, this is where my problem comes in.

Aside from running a cat5 from the living room to bedroom, which is not an option, there is no easy way to get access to my NAS and just general network access to other computers, for RDP and the such.The wifi reaches into the bedroom with a 4–5 bar rating but its not the most dependable thing ever.

As for why I need two modems, I play a decent amount of online games that require a good connection at both ends of the apt as well having hulu+netflix for our television needs (we got rid of cable).

So Flutherers, how do I solve my dilemma?

Options I’ve thought of but don’t know a ton about:

-LAN to Powerline adapters, don’t really know how well they work or if they would work in an Apt building.

-Getting two Wifi routers and finding a way to have them network between themselves, don’t really know if this is even possible or if I’d need special routers.

-Having the comps in the bedroom connect to direct line AND to the wifi network to keep access with NAS and other comps, this is probably the easiest and most rational method of getting things done, but also the messiest and I imagine slowest. Hoping to not have to resort to this.

I realize this is a massive wall of text but I could really use some thought and ideas from some smarties.

Also, my tech knowledge and ability is pretty good so even the most complicated set ups are considered.

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22 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Why can’t you run Cat-5? There are some wall-mounted moldings for a wire-chase that look OK. I wouldn’t think you would be too happy streaming media over 2Gb wifi. If you are running two modems, you could then aggregate bandwidth! It takes a little work and some skill but it sounds like you are not intimidated.

InspecterJones's avatar

@dpworkin Theres a kitchen and a bathroom in the way, as well as the entrance way and the apt door. Its just not feasible without it looking ugly. The problem is that the two modems aren’t connected in any way, it’s basically like wanting to connect the networks of you and your neighbor. I agree about not wanting to stream anything over the wifi, its why I’m trying to see if there are other options I haven’t thought of. I guess aside from the powerline thing there probably isn’t an option.

EDIT: We also have really high ceilings so running a line would be a HUGE pain in the ass.

dpworkin's avatar

I’d ask an architect first before I gave up on ethernet. Sometimes you can run cable between the floor and the subfloor, or there are extant chases that you don’t know about that now handle power circuitry.

InspecterJones's avatar

@dpworkin Yea, I guess I’ll have to figure out how to run a line over, we’ll see if I can figure out something else first.

njnyjobs's avatar

You can still use 2 modems and create a VPN connection between them. You can secure the VPN with encryption and still get your way with your netflix and online gaming itch. Of course, it would require configuration on both routers, just don’t know your level of confidence in executing the plan, but you did say that you would consider any idea. . . . if you need help, PM me.

njnyjobs's avatar

Alternatively, if you’re not using both modems at the same time, you can drop one modem and use the remaing modem with a wifi router and coupled to a wireless-n bridge at strategic locations within the apartment.

jaytkay's avatar

Setting up the VPN server as ninyjobs suggests is ridiculously easy with Vista and Windows 7. I was shocked when I discovered this.

But personally I’d go with wifi. If you have an old router, you could get a big reliability boost with an 802.11N or at least an 802.11G MIMO router.

HungryGuy's avatar

If you have two modems, then it follows that there is a cable connecting the pole to the two modems together with a splitter somewhere in the house (or outside the house). Why can’t you just run CAT5 cable parallel with the incoming cable (pay an cable guy or hire an electrician if it’s inaccessible) and eliminate one of the modems?

InspecterJones's avatar

@njnyjobs @jaytkay I haven’t tried a VPN connection because of an assumption, which is that the modems connect to the switch off station or whatever it is they go to and then it would come back, so I’d be limited by my upload which on a home cable connection is complete shit, I get over 20mbit down but probbaly only 0.5mbit up, since the up limit is on both ends that caps my speed on transfers both ways. Would get better speeds just using the wifi I think, if my assumption is wrong then that would be awesome, I guess its worth trying out.

@HungryGuy There is a cable, but its going through the wall behind the kitchen and bathroom, I’m only renting the place, I think theres a limit to how much destruction I can cause, also, that would probably be expensive.

I guess my current options are:

-Just deal with slow WIFI

-Run a cat5 across the apt

-Get a wifi bridge

Does anyone know if I could link two routers together through wifi? Cause I need to get a router or switch for the other room anyway (the modem locks onto mac addresses and doesnt let go for like 20–30 mins).

jaytkay's avatar

Does anyone know if I could link two routers together through wifi?

Yes, a second router can be a bridge – it joins the first router’s wireless network. And then you can plug ethernet cables into the bridge.

Or the second router can be a wireless repeater – it joins the first router’s wireless network. And then it accepts wireless clients.

If that all sounds like fun, look into Tomato and DD-WRT, you can bend a stock wireless router to your wants & needs.

InspecterJones's avatar

@jaytkay Would the router also be able to take in a separate internet connection and connect the two networks? Yea I’ve looked into DD-WRT a while ago and my router isnt fully compatible, the new one I get will be compatible, been planning for a while.

jaytkay's avatar

Would the router also be able to take in a separate internet connection and connect the two networks?

Yikes we are getting away from simplest. I have not done that, I am sure it is possible, but the thought makes me retreat to the question, “Would Cat-5e along the molding, painted to match your walls, be that noticeable?”

InspecterJones's avatar

@jaytkay It’s more of the pain in the ass of doing running it that I don’t wanna deal with. There’s also a geeky part in me that wants to figure out some other way of doing it. Should probably just go with the low-tech solution.

HungryGuy's avatar

@InspecterJones – Yes, you can connect two routers in tandem. Big companies often do this to enhance security. The ports off the router connected directly to the internet are often called the DMZ. They put their internet-facing servers in the DMZ, and the actual corporate network behind the second router. You’ll need to change the IP address of one of the routers from the default of 192.whatever because it won’t work if both routers have the same IP.

But are you sure you can’t just shove a CAT5 cable through the existing holes with the incoming cable?

InspecterJones's avatar

@HungryGuy That not exactly what I was asking, I meant could I connect the two of them wirelessly to each other so they could maintain the network for me. Running a cable through the hole would be impossible without stripping the wall away with the way its set up.

njnyjobs's avatar

@InspecterJones… use wireless-n bridges to connect your wireless-n routers together.

HungryGuy's avatar

@InspecterJones – As @njnyjobs just said, you can use a wireless bridge to connect the two routers together and hardwire the remote equipment to the remote router, but you’ll still have the same performane issues with the remote router as you would have with the remote equipment connected wirelessly to one router.

InspecterJones's avatar

@HungryGuy Without a bridge its not possible though? They would be in range of each other.

HungryGuy's avatar

A wireless router (or bridge) has a good range of several hundred feet (I once stayed in a cheap hotel and was able to connect to the WiFi network of the hotel across a 4-lane avenue [and both hotels set back behind parking lots] without any problems). Unless you live in a sprawling mansion, range is not a concern you need to worry about. A bigger concern is that if you live in a congested area, interference from other networks will slow your wireless speed, especially with the older 2.4 GHz technologies.

InspecterJones's avatar

@HungryGuy Wasn’t my question, from the original post…is it possible to network two routers together wirelessly. Each would have its own internet connection but would connect the two networks that they established together.

HungryGuy's avatar

@InspecterJones – Oh. Sorry. But I’m not sure what you mean by “two routers together wirelessly.” Others are probably confused as well. One wireless router is all you need to connect as many wireless endpoints (computers, printers, etc.) as you’re likely to find in a typical home. If you have two cables entering your apartment at different locations, you would connect a wireless router to one to serve all your wireless gear (most wireless routers also have 2 to 4 physical ports to hard-wire equipment to). And you would connect a wired router to the other to serve whatever gear you have in that room that you want hard-wired for speed.

If you want to get rid of the second modem, and have the remote router connect to the primary router wirelessly, you can use a wireless bridge between the two routers as njnyjobs said. But I don’t see the point of that, for you’d do just as well to eliminate that remote router and have the remote equipment connect wirelessly to the primary router, and save yourself the complexity of two routers and a bridge.

dpworkin's avatar

And here are the instructions I mentioned earlier about how you can aggregate the bandwidth from the two modems using FreeBSD.

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