Need to optimize speed on my network

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Need to optimize speed on my network

Postposted on Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:50 am

Hi all,

First take a good look at my home setup, particularly the data flow between the computer tagged simply as "PC", and the external hard drives hooked to the Time Capsule via a USB hub: http://gallery.me.com/mommybabou#100028/MyHomeSetup&bgcolor=black

Yeah, you saw that right! My current setup works pretty well, but there is one thing I would like to optimize: file transfers between the various computers. I mentioned looking at the "PC" and the external drives because that's where the bulk of the transfers happens.

I don't think there's anything that can be done for the wireless devices (dotted lines), but surely there is for the wired ones. I think the weakest link in there is the WRT54GL Linksys router. The network ports on that router, IIRC, is max 100Mbps (or about 10MB/s). My PC has gigabit network, the Time Capsule has gigabit network, and the USB hub should be able to support up to 40MB/s (that would be a weak link as well, but not the weakest). So right now, I only reach around 10MB/s. I can only hook up the external drives to the USB port of the Time Capsule (a shame, really, but my external drives only have USB anyway...), so I would say the max I could potentially reach is that 40MB/s. Sounds like not that much, but that would actually be 4 times faster than what I have now.

So, I was wondering if I could put a Network Hub that supports gigabit network on the Linksys router (like this one for example). I would then connect the three devices (that are currently wired to the Linksys) on that hub. Also, I was wondering if the setup for that was easy. I have never used a network hub before, so I don't know how they work... And even though my network seems complex, it was relatively painless to set up, so I'm not too technical about all of this.

Any opinion or suggestion would be appreciated. Thanks for reading...
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Re: Need to optimize speed on my network

Postposted on Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:03 am

The picture is blocked for me at work, but what you are proposing to do is exactly what I would do. Because switches operate at the data-link layer, they are very efficient, and traffic that would be between devices attached to your proposed gigabit switch will stay on that switch, with a connection speed of about 125MB/s, and theoretical maximum throughput at about 100-110MB/s. If you had a four port gigabit switch, you'd use that fourth port to connect it to one of the switching ports on your router, and since the 100Mb connection is faster than your internet as well as your wireless network, aside from some almost immeasurable additional latency, there's no downside to this setup.
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Re: Need to optimize speed on my network

Postposted on Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:10 am

vince wrote:So, I was wondering if I could put a Network Hub that supports gigabit network on the Linksys router (like this one for example). I would then connect the three devices (that are currently wired to the Linksys) on that hub.


Short answer is yes. There is no long answer either -- it should be as simple as plug in play. All the devices you want running on the Gigabit LAN, unplug from the wireless router and plug into the gigabit. Then plug the gigabit into the wireless router. It should be transparent and seamless. The switch you linked to, by the way, is a D-Link model which should serve you well. Newegg has it for less after rebate if you're comfortable shopping elsewhere.

vince wrote:Also, I was wondering if the setup for that was easy. I have never used a network hub before, so I don't know how they work... And even though my network seems complex, it was relatively painless to set up, so I'm not too technical about all of this.


From the diagram, my first thought was 'this guy is TOO technical' :) Assuming there's nothing weird about your router setup, plugging in a switch / hub should be a breeze.
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Re: Need to optimize speed on my network

Postposted on Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:16 am

Yup, 5 port gigabit switches are pretty cheap these days. Just plug all your gigabit devices into the switch, then connect one of the ports on the switch to your existing router. Any traffic that does not need to go through the router (i.e. anything that does not touch the wireless or Internet) will just get routed straight through the gigabit switch, and run at gigabit speeds.

As Airmantharp indicates, switches operate at the link layer. This means you don't need to configure anything (at least, not on any of the inexpensive consumer models). The switch figures out the hardware (MAC) addresses of all your devices automatically, just by watching the traffic on each port.

Note that you should not expect a 10x speed increase, since other limiting factors will start to come into play. But it should be significantly faster than the setup you have now.
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Re: Need to optimize speed on my network

Postposted on Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:38 am

YAY!!! That is the answer I was wishing for :D Thanks a lot guys.

JdL: the switch you link me to, for some reason, is not available on the canadian Newegg.ca site. I don't understand it when it's like that... Anyway, the only ones I found in that same price range are these:

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... 6833122140
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... 6833122128

So I think I'll go with the D-Link one on Dell's site. Looks like it's a bit higher-end for the same price. It's a "deal of the day" so I'll have to order it before the end of the day :wink:

Thanks again!
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Re: Need to optimize speed on my network

Postposted on Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:39 pm

I've got 2 of the Dlink 1008D's at home and one at work. They are great for the price. Just plug all your wired stuff in to the Dlink and then 1 port from that to your router and it will all just work.
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Re: Need to optimize speed on my network

Postposted on Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:01 pm

notfred wrote:I've got 2 of the Dlink 1008D's at home and one at work. They are great for the price. Just plug all your wired stuff in to the Dlink and then 1 port from that to your router and it will all just work.

I've got an 8-port D-link dgs-2208 that works like a champ. That said, to optimize your network, get as much off of the wireless as possbile. Can you wire the iMac?
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Re: Need to optimize speed on my network

Postposted on Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:51 pm

According to this test, don't expect great speed from the USB drives connected to the Time Capsule. They only got ~17MB/sec reads,~9MB/sec writes over gigabit Ethernet.
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Re: Need to optimize speed on my network

Postposted on Wed Oct 07, 2009 8:37 am

Usacomp2k3 wrote:
notfred wrote:I've got 2 of the Dlink 1008D's at home and one at work. They are great for the price. Just plug all your wired stuff in to the Dlink and then 1 port from that to your router and it will all just work.

I've got an 8-port D-link dgs-2208 that works like a champ. That said, to optimize your network, get as much off of the wireless as possbile. Can you wire the iMac?

Yes I could wire the iMac. Actually it used to be wired, but after we re-arranged the room it's in, I was tired and just reconnected it with wi-fi. Been like that since then, since for internet it's just as fast... But yes, I should wire it to the switch I'll be getting soon :)
crazybus wrote:According to this test, don't expect great speed from the USB drives connected to the Time Capsule. They only got ~17MB/sec reads,~9MB/sec writes over gigabit Ethernet.

That's a shame... Still will put the switch to good use, but I guess I won't be getting much out of those external drives... I was hoping to reach up to 40MB/sec.
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Re: Need to optimize speed on my network

Postposted on Wed Oct 07, 2009 9:58 am

Oh my! I ordered the switch from Dell.ca yesterday, and I just received it today!!!

Canada Post is usually semi-crappy for speed, but sometimes they amaze me...

Guess what I'll be doing tonight?
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Re: Need to optimize speed on my network

Postposted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:54 am

I'm reviving this thread to update on my experience, and for an additional question... (if you don't care about my blurb, just go to the question on the last paragraph :wink: )

First thing, using the switch was indeed a breeze. I just hooked up the router to it, and all other devices are wired to the switch. Nothing else needed to be done. Even the extra router hooked to it (the one in Bridge Mode) works fine just after plugging it in. I have though made a few changes to my network (see my update chart). First, the iMac is now wired (this one was the easiest to do, the hardest part was waiting for the mail order for the cable :P ). Second, I have installed wall plates in the upstairs bedroom and living room near the switch with network attachments and a wire that runs through the wall (bedroom wall was just above the living room wall, so no real biggy here, although I did have a couple of hurdles in the way - perhaps could be detailed in a separate post as there are funny bits, although they weren't funny at the time!). So now the bedroom Mini is wired as well. 8)

But I think the biggest endeavor for me was the setup of the NAS computer, using freeNAS. This went much better than expected. I know I could have used old parts for this NAS, as it really doesn't require much power. But there were two down sides to that: an old box would probably not have a Gigabit network. Also, it probably would not have SATA. Since I wanted all to be Gigabit-ready, and I already had SATA hard drives, I went ahead and bought new parts. Just minimal RAM though, and the most basic motherboard/CPU/case and PSU I could find to minimize the cost, with of course Gigabit network and multiple Sata connectors (4 to 6). Well it's up and running now, with four hard drives (total of 3,5Tb) and even an external drive hooked to it (for things that don't need speed). Works like a charm, and most of all, I get 50-60MB/sec speeds. 8)

Now for my question: the current weakest link in the WRT54G router (the one in bridge mode in my chart). It only supports 10/100 network. I am not using it's wireless feature, so I'm thinking of replacing it with another gigabit switch. Can I just plug in a switch on another switch as easily as when I plugged the first switch in? (i.e., just plug it in and voilà?).
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Re: Need to optimize speed on my network

Postposted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:35 pm

Yup, just plug in another switch there and you will be good to go.
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Re: Need to optimize speed on my network

Postposted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:40 pm

Awesome. Thanks Notfred!
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