26 April 2008


Argh argh argh

Our Internet connection has been painfully slow at home for the past few days. Or so I thought. It turns out that the hardwired connections (like the ancient iMac in the kitchen) are just fine, but the wireless network is behaving very oddly: uploads from our computers to the Net are speedy, downloads crawl. Unfortunately, most stuff (email, web, podcasts) requires downloading more than uploading.

I've tried restarting the AirPort Express that serves as our base station. It shows full bars for signal strength, so that's not a problem. I've tried disconnecting it and hooking up the old flaky Linksys base station—which was still flaky. I've changed the AirPort Express wireless channel, gone to 802.11g only (instead of mixed b/g), turned on Interference Robustness, increased the multicast rate, and so on.

Next I'm going to reset the firmware on the base station. If that doesn't work, I'll see if turning off network encryption, or changing the encryption type, makes a difference. In the meantime, we're mooching off a neighbour's NETGEAR router, which is (strangely) sometimes locked down and sometimes not.

Any other suggestions? This setup has been fine for months and months, so why it's suddenly gooping like molasses I have no idea. Networking remains voodoo, I tell ya.

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A painless thing to try would be changing the frequency on the wifi router. Try a couple different ones. You may be fighting unknown interference.

Or not. Wifi can be voodoo.
Yeah, I tried that too. So far, things have improved a little, but they were better last night than they are this morning. For no reason at all. Argh argh argh.
Perhaps you want to try my Linksys hub, Derek.

I'll give you the WPA key.

Are you using a cable splitter? I got one from shaw (if you're using cable, that is) and they said that sometimes the splitter goes crazy, affecting the signal, and to pop down to Shaw and they'll give you a new one.
Is your network password-protected (or restricted to a list of specific MAC addresses)? If not, it's possible you have someone on the outside who's piggy-backing onto it and using a lot of bandwidth.
Our network has been encrypted with WPA for some time, and again, it's only the wireless part that has been affected. If someone was using our network without permission, the wired portion would be affected as well -- and I also haven't seen any evidence of that in the logs.

Similarly, the cable splitter would affect the whole network if it were at fault. And I have tried changing the radio channel and other settings too, as well as even swapping cables around in case that was the problem.

If it persists after I get a new base station, then I'll be really frustrated.
Okay, all fixed. Thanks to everyone for your advice.