Author Topic: Advice needed RE: Broadband/router/modem quality  (Read 3653 times)

SunshineGirl

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Advice needed RE: Broadband/router/modem quality
« on: March 21, 2013, 02:28:56 PM »
Hello,

My basic question: Our internet has been running slow sometimes lately, and I'm not sure how to fix it. We have lots of devices accessing it and stream plenty of video, sometimes on more than one device at a time. Is it a bandwidth issue? A new-a-new-router issue? (Our router (Belkin) is probably 3-5 years old.)

Something else? How do I figure it out?

Thanks!

Justaerin

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Re: Advice needed RE: Broadband/router/modem quality
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2013, 03:29:10 PM »
If it's cable, you're running on a shared medium whose bandwidth can fluctuate with demand in your area.  Every wireless device you have connected to your home WAP cuts your WiFi bandwidth by half, as only one device can send or receive at a time, and ONLY send or receive.  This is considered a half-duplex single collision domain, except on newer wireless platforms that most wireless devices still don't work on (as far as I know, could be wrong).

Other than that you're looking at any number of issues, likely several combined, that can cause your issue.

You may discuss with your ISP if a modem upgrade is available, they sometimes push new devices out with newer code that resolves bugs or helps the push more bandwidth. 

The only way to narrow it down is really to turn everything off and test one device at a time, preferably hard wired directly into your modem, which of course must be done in a period of slow response to really find a culprit device - if there is one. 

Best bet is to make dinner(s) for a tech-savvy friend and ask if they might consider helping you out.

Daley

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Re: Advice needed RE: Broadband/router/modem quality
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2013, 05:08:42 PM »
Justaerin has a good breakdown of some basics, but let me add in a few extra things you might be able to check on your own.

First, utilize both Speedtest.net and Pingtest.net, as they'll both help you figure out whether the problem is on your end or your ISP's end. Check speeds both from behind your router and connected directly to the cable modem. If there's a dramatic difference for the worse between the two when you're behind the router versus directly connected, it'll likely be your equipment. If the connection is consistently bad, and especially if Pingtest is looking rough, it's likely caused by noisy cable lines and should call your ISP for support.

If you've got a lot of devices streaming video simultaneously (like two or more), then consider bumping up into the 6-10+Mbps tier if you aren't already. You should also pay attention to when the slowdowns occur. Is it during bad weather? If it is, it's definitely the ISP's end. If it's during evening hours? If so, you may be sharing a limited amount of bandwidth with a lot of neighbors off your node, and bumping up your speed package isn't likely going to help much, and you might just have to consider switching to the DSL end of your city's broadband duopoly. If it's always when everyone is home? You might just need more bandwidth.

Belkin routers also has some buggy firmware. If it can be successfully narrowed down to your equipment, try upgrading your router's firmware to see if it clears up the problem. If not and you're confident it's your equipment, then consider buying an Asus router like the RT-N12 or the Buffalo WHR-300HP running DD-WRT instead (about $50). There's a slim possibility it's the cable modem, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Another thing to consider is the possibility of an infected Windows machine on your network robbing your bandwidth... just make sure everyone's patched current and running a good antivirus like Security Essentials or Eset NOD32.

The secret to troubleshooting is to eliminate possible problems one at a time until you can successfully reproduce it and be aware of what's going on. With a bit of patience and the websites I mentioned up top, you might be able to narrow it down yourself.

Justaerin

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Re: Advice needed RE: Broadband/router/modem quality
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2013, 05:24:29 PM »
Yeah, nix what I said and follow this guy ^.  Way simpler, more comprehensive and will get you to resolution faster.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Advice needed RE: Broadband/router/modem quality
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2013, 07:03:54 PM »
Hello,

My basic question: Our internet has been running slow sometimes lately, and I'm not sure how to fix it. We have lots of devices accessing it and stream plenty of video, sometimes on more than one device at a time. Is it a bandwidth issue? A new-a-new-router issue? (Our router (Belkin) is probably 3-5 years old.)

Something else? How do I figure it out?

Thanks!

It's probably just a straight bandwidth issue, my guess. Streaming high quality video can be pretty bandwidth heavy and as other posters have mentioned, a lousy cable ISP may never give you close to their claimed speeds because of local traffic. Comcast would lock up Netflix almost every night where I used to be. I've since moved and gotten a direct fiber connection from my new ISP. 10Mbps down/2 Mbps up and it ALWAYS tests within 1% of the claimed speed on whatever bandwidth test site I use.

innkeeper77

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Re: Advice needed RE: Broadband/router/modem quality
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2013, 07:57:39 PM »
IF- I repeat IF- you determine that the issue is not on the internet end, but it is your router- (you can try by connecting a computer right to the modem for a bit)-

A POSSIBLE issue is interference. We had HORRIBLE ping times over wifi in my apartment because everyone was running 2.4 Ghz wifi routers, and there were so many they ran out of channels. A way to get around this is (if some/all of your computers support it..) is going to a dual band wireless N router. Dual band runs on 5 Ghz as well as 2.4 Ghz, and the 5 Ghz band has more channels, and doesnt go QUITE as far (but usually fine for inside a residence) so you have less interference from 500 feet away, more channels available to spread out the load (decent modern routers automatically choose open channels) and also less people use it.

Note- not all wifi cards support 5 Ghz. You can still run 2.4 Ghz, but of course you loose this benefit.

You can see this by using a program that can show you wifi traffic, such as the free inSSIDER. See if there are overlapping channels- or even if you can set your router to a better free channel range. http://www.metageek.net/products/inssider/ (When we run it here, there are at least 2 networks on every 2.4 Ghz channel, and half the spectrum has 3 per channel.... not ideal)  (5 Ghz only has 3 networks, and they are spread out.)

Also, older routers can slow down when serving too many computers. We noticed a huge speed boost even on the 2.4 Ghz spectrum when switching from our (basic and 2.4 Ghz only Wireless N belkin router) to a nice dual core dual band Asus router. It simply was able to keep up better. Note, I am in a large shared apartment, and often 5 or more people are using the internet at once for various reasons.. add in wifi on phones etc and it got quite bad.

However, we are happy with our (expensive and non-mustachian, but for us very worth it) Asus RT-N65U. (Its processor is dual core! Thats just cool, and it does NOT slow down.) - Early versions overheated, but they have updated the firmware. It runs great now, and asus has a good warranty.


Lastly, check out inSSIDer first- it is very likely you live in an area with less people and have lower demands all around. (Dual band is nice- but you really dont need it if 2.4 Ghz is clear.)
« Last Edit: April 03, 2014, 11:05:47 PM by innkeeper77 »

SunshineGirl

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Re: Advice needed RE: Broadband/router/modem quality
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2013, 12:34:43 PM »
Thank you everyone! Now I have a starting point. We have all Macs, if that matters.

Spork

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Re: Advice needed RE: Broadband/router/modem quality
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2013, 12:46:56 PM »
Another thing to consider is the possibility of an infected Windows machine on your network robbing your bandwidth... just make sure everyone's patched current and running a good antivirus like Security Essentials or Eset NOD32.


As well as infected... I'd look for compromised.  In addition to what IP said about "Belkin is buggy"... it's worse than that.  It seems to be very often compromised.  As this is your first line of defense against "the bad guys" out there... if your router (or any system on your network) is compromised, I'd suggest you wipe them clean and start fresh.  Yes: all of them.  If one host is compromised it is a pivot point for outside badguys to pivot and attack inside hosts. 

Compromised hosts are bought/sold as commodities online.  You can buy a whole bot network of compromised hosts for not a whole lot of money.


One other thing I might look at... If you have kids, make sure someone hasn't turned on some form of file sharing.  Peer-to-peer sharing can be extremely network hungry.