I'm in one of those multi-floor townhouses. I've already set up the LAN and it works pretty good.
ISP: Bell Sympatico High Speed (3000 kbps)
LAN setup: modem and ethernet hub in basement. First computer is right there by the hub, so it has no speed or connection problems. The second computer is in an upstairs bedroom and requires about 80 feet of cable to connect to the ethernet hub.
This 90-ft stretch is currently being made by cat-5 cables (a 20ft, a 50ft, and a 20ft, with those little male-to-male or whatever they're called connectors). That first 20ft cable does pass behind a clothes dryer (which is off 99% of the time).
I know this is a lot less than the 328-ft recommended maximum, but the program on my upstairs computer says teh 10/100 NIC is connected at 10 mbps, but I don't get the same kind of download speed as the basement computer. The average 10mb download take 2 to 4 times longer to complete on the upstairs computer.
At present it goes behind a clothes dryer and then follows the stairway up to the upstairs bedroom. Aside from the clothes dryer it doesn't pass or go near any other electrical wires or large appliances until it reaches the computer. I unfortunately am stuck with the wire running where it is.
1) Given the distance from the upstairs computer to the hub downstairs, what sort of internet download speed difference should I see between the two computers? (I mean really, should it take 4-times as long to download the exact same 10mb file just because the computer is 90ft from the hub versus next to the hub?)
2) Would a hub or switch or a repeater or something along the way (say at the half-way or 2/3rd's point or so) improve the connection? Does it have to be a repeater or would any old 10/100 ethernet hub do?
3) Would replacing the 20ft cat-5 cable that goes behind the dryer with a cat-6 improve the connection? Alternately, is there a kind of insulating cable-wrap I could buy to cover any part of the cable within say, 8-ft, of the dryer? I do have a kind of "metallic foil tape" meant for where air-ducts and the like join. Would that do?
Thanks for recommending a switcher, though I didn't use it quite how I thought I would. I just outright replaced the linksys ethernet hub I had with the switcher and wham-bam-thankyou-mam both computers suddenly had a 100 mbps connection.
Turns out that linksys hub I was using was a freebie as part of the Bell Sympatico package back from when we first signed up. To give it out as a freebie Bell must have bought the cheapest ones they could get in in bulk, cause even though its supposed to be a 10/100 hub it never ever connected above 10.
I realize this is a LONG time after the post but would be interested to see the results of the "dryer test".
In 2010, if I was addressing this environment, I would suggest buying 100ft of uncut Cat 5e or 6 cable. You probably don't need Cat 6. Riser is correct that cuts/splices do degrade the performance. Now that you probably want Gigabit ethernet, it will matter even more.