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Can I use a wireless router for just a network (no internet)?

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March 6, 2010 7:17:09 AM

Okay, so this is the case. It is quite complicated, but I have simplified it.

I have two computers. One on one side of the house and the other on the other side of it.

They both have their own separate internet connections.

I wish to find a way to link them both up wirelessly so that I can transfer files at 100Mbps+ sustained, through two-or-three walls and thirty-to-forty feet away.

I was thinking the only way to link computers wirlessly in this fashion would be through a wireless router capable 802.11n. The only one that is capable of meeting all my demands is the D-Link DIR-655, and it is a bit on the expensive side.

My question is - would it be possible to create a non-internet network between the two computers wirlessly, at such speeds, or would the internet be shared as well?

Thank You.
Anonymous
March 6, 2010 7:38:35 AM

I do this regularly -- create an occasional informal network between my internet connected computer on the second floor and a new one which is on the third floor, too distant from our router to have a reliable internet connection.

In this instance the idea is to simply transfer files from the remote computer to the internet machine so that later they can be sent by e-mail.

On the remote machine on the third floor I have connected a spare wireless router with the IP address set to 192.168.1.9 (for example) so as not to clash with any existing IP address such as 192.168.0.1.

Turned off firewalls on both computers and enabled file sharing in the relevant folders.


On the internet machine on the second floor I have created a profile in the wireless adapter's setup separate from its normal link (which is to the wireless router nearby which is connected to the internet).

Then make a careful note of both computer's names (Control Panel, System) switch the wireless adapter's profile to the new computer on the third floor and run the network wizard.

Basically, all you need is a spare wireless router (in my case an ancient wireless B model bought secondhand for a couple of dollars-- because speed isn't an issue on the fairly small files I transfer).
March 6, 2010 12:35:45 PM

You don't even need a wireless router if it’s only for the two machines. That tends to complicate matters, adds to the expense, and is even less efficient. All you need is a couple of wireless N client adapters configured for adhoc mode. Just create a separate network between them using a new subnet, make one 192.168.2.1, the other 192.168.2.2, you're done. It will be faster because a wireless router requires TWO wireless connections that’s negotiated by the wireless router, that cuts your bandwidth in half. Adhoc is direct and thus preserves bandwidth.

The only really case I can see for a wireless N router is if range proves to be an issue. Then a wireless router could be placed roughly equidistant between them. But again, at the expense of bandwidth. But since you’ll need the wireless N adapters regardless, try adhoc mode first. If you have range/signal problems, then add the wireless N router.
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Anonymous
March 6, 2010 12:51:23 PM

eibgrad: I see your point about the extra overhead involved in using a router but compared to ad hoc it involves no new learning process. Speed isn't really an issue in my own case.

As for cost, I don't know about where you live, but in London I regularly find wireless routers which people have dumped as they change ISPs and get a new one free.
March 6, 2010 1:32:34 PM

Quote:
eibgrad: I see your point about the extra overhead involved in using a router but compared to ad hoc it involves no new learning process. Speed isn't really an issue in my own case.

As for cost, I don't know about where you live, but in London I regularly find wireless routers which people have dumped as they change ISPs and get a new one free.


I understand. But I was referring more specifically to the OP who mentioned 100mbps+, sustained. That's a lot to ask for even under the best of conditions. What ppl forget is that using a wireless router between two local wireless clients halves their bandwidth. Let's be optimistic and assume the OP gets 120mbps real world. That's only 60mbps over the router, far short of the OP's requirement. And while I agree you can find bargain basement routers for a few bucks, probably not wireless N. Not yet anyway.

By all means, if you just need a simple connection w/ modest performance, a cheap wireless B/G router for a couple bucks will work just fine. But again, I'm looking at this based on OP's rather demanding requirements.
Anonymous
March 6, 2010 2:34:46 PM

Ah..I get your point now -- hadn't notice the speed requirement. Incidentally, found another dumped router, just 30 minutes ago.
March 7, 2010 4:44:06 AM

Quote:
I do this regularly -- create an occasional informal network between my internet connected computer on the second floor and a new one which is on the third floor, too distant from our router to have a reliable internet connection.

In this instance the idea is to simply transfer files from the remote computer to the internet machine so that later they can be sent by e-mail.

On the remote machine on the third floor I have connected a spare wireless router with the IP address set to 192.168.1.9 (for example) so as not to clash with any existing IP address such as 192.168.0.1.

Turned off firewalls on both computers and enabled file sharing in the relevant folders.


On the internet machine on the second floor I have created a profile in the wireless adapter's setup separate from its normal link (which is to the wireless router nearby which is connected to the internet).

Then make a careful note of both computer's names (Control Panel, System) switch the wireless adapter's profile to the new computer on the third floor and run the network wizard.

Basically, all you need is a spare wireless router (in my case an ancient wireless B model bought secondhand for a couple of dollars-- because speed isn't an issue on the fairly small files I transfer).


So, let me get this straight.

You're saying that you have one computer that is connected to the internet and one that is not because it is too far away to link the connection to wirelessly? And so, you're only using the router as a means of very slow file transfer?

Now, that's obviously possible, but the question is - is the computer on the third floor actually connected to the internet connection of the first one or is it Just file sharing? According to what you said, the speed is slow, but the internet is still there.

But what you're saying is I can apply your method of low-bandwidth file sharing to my problem by using a superior router, such as wireless N instead of B. Correct?

If so, would I get my 100Mbps+ sustained and would the cost (~120$) be worth it for 3 computers (one wireless, two LAN)?

Thank You.
March 7, 2010 4:52:46 AM

eibgrad said:
You don't even need a wireless router if it’s only for the two machines. That tends to complicate matters, adds to the expense, and is even less efficient. All you need is a couple of wireless N client adapters configured for adhoc mode. Just create a separate network between them using a new subnet, make one 192.168.2.1, the other 192.168.2.2, you're done. It will be faster because a wireless router requires TWO wireless connections that’s negotiated by the wireless router, that cuts your bandwidth in half. Adhoc is direct and thus preserves bandwidth.

The only really case I can see for a wireless N router is if range proves to be an issue. Then a wireless router could be placed roughly equidistant between them. But again, at the expense of bandwidth. But since you’ll need the wireless N adapters regardless, try adhoc mode first. If you have range/signal problems, then add the wireless N router.


That's not a bad possibility. Two cheap (20$) Wireless N adapters would definitely cost less, take up less space and be very convenient.

The thing is, even though I have three computers, the second is connected directly to the third with a 1Gbps onboard LAN connection. So, if I have the first and the third interacting through N, the second will still be part of the network.

But, would two Adapters really give me a sustained 100Mbps+ and would they not also transfer the internet connections? Although, in this case, both computers would be using both connections, so that would make things more equalized. I simply don't want the third computer to be using the first and second's 16Mbps connection, since it has its own 2.5Mbps connection.
March 7, 2010 5:30:44 AM

Track said:
The thing is, even though I have three computers, the second is connected directly to the third with a 1Gbps onboard LAN connection. So, if I have the first and the third interacting through N, the second will still be part of the network.


Each time you add a network adapter, you configure it w/ a new subnet. So let’s use an example.

Let’s assume you currently have a connection (wired or wireless, doesn’t matter) configured with DHCP by your internet router (192.168.1.1) as 192.168.1.100/255.255.255.0, and obviously it provides your internet access. You now install the wireless N adapter but configure it MANUALLY w/ a different subnet, specifically 192.168.2.1/255.255.255.0 (no gateway ip, no dns servers, nothing). The other machine is configured identically except it uses a different IP address (but same subnet), 192.168.2.2/255.255.255.0. Finally you configure each for adhoc mode and establish a direct wireless connection between them.

What’s we’ve done is simply created a new subnet/network. It has no relationship to any other network whatsoever, absolutely none. It’s just an additional, private, closed network between those two machines. Anytime you reference a resource using the 192.168.2.x network, it will use that network connection. If you reference a resource using the 192.168.1.x network, then THAT network connection will be used. And if you reference a resource that is neither in the 192.168.1.x nor 192.168.2.x networks, it will be sent to the gateway (192.168.1.1) and over the Internet.

IOW, you control which network is used based on the addressing.

Track said:
But, would two Adapters really give me a sustained 100Mbps+ and would they not also transfer the internet connections? Although, in this case, both computers would be using both connections, so that would make things more equalized. I simply don't want the third computer to be using the first and second's 16Mbps connection, since it has its own 2.5Mbps connection.


I can’t answer questions about performance since wireless is inherently unpredictable. But adhoc mode is definitely going to be much faster compared to infrastructure mode (i.e., a router) since it eliminates one unnecessary wireless hop.

Again, this adhoc network I’m proposing has no affect on any other network connections on any computer, none. Of course, you’ll want to use a different wireless channel for it than the wireless router to avoid interference (btw, channels 1, 6, and 11 provide maximum separation). The only issue becomes range. You *might* have to resort to a wireless router (really just a WAP (wireless access point)) if range becomes an issue and significantly affects performance.

IOW, you would try this first:

[pc #1 (adhoc mode)]<--wireless-->[pc #2 (adhoc mode)]

…but might have to consider the following to extend range and increase signal strength (and as a result increase performance):

[pc #1 (infrastructure mode)]<--wireless-->[wap]<--wireless-->[pc #2 (infrastructure mode)]

But as I said, you will need the wireless adapters regardless, so try adhoc first and keep your fingers crossed you won’t need to consider a WAP as well.
March 7, 2010 8:51:38 AM

eibgrad said:
Each time you add a network adapter, you configure it w/ a new subnet. So let’s use an example.


I grasp the basic meaning of a subnet address, but I am not completely fluent in such lingo, so I'm going to try and understand this little by little, with your permission.

eibgrad said:

Let’s assume you currently have a connection (wired or wireless, doesn’t matter) configured with DHCP by your internet router (192.168.1.1) as 192.168.1.100/255.255.255.0, and obviously it provides your internet access. You now install the wireless N adapter but configure it MANUALLY w/ a different subnet, specifically 192.168.2.1/255.255.255.0 (no gateway ip, no dns servers, nothing). The other machine is configured identically except it uses a different IP address (but same subnet), 192.168.2.2/255.255.255.0. Finally you configure each for adhoc mode and establish a direct wireless connection between them.


So, you're saying that in order to separate the non-internet network from the internet network, I have to set a specific subnet address, which I understand is the internal IP address that links between me and my internet transmitting device that then links me with an external "net" address to my ISP.
But, the question is, is that what truly makes it impossible for computer #3 to connect to my primary internet connection? As in, what if I just didn't set any of these addresses.

eibgrad said:

What’s we’ve done is simply created a new subnet/network. It has no relationship to any other network whatsoever, absolutely none. It’s just an additional, private, closed network between those two machines. Anytime you reference a resource using the 192.168.2.x network, it will use that network connection. If you reference a resource using the 192.168.1.x network, then THAT network connection will be used. And if you reference a resource that is neither in the 192.168.1.x nor 192.168.2.x networks, it will be sent to the gateway (192.168.1.1) and over the Internet.

IOW, you control which network is used based on the addressing.


Question is, with this naming scheme, how do I know which way to access Network #1 (internet) and Network #2 (file transfer), from each computer?

eibgrad said:

I can’t answer questions about performance since wireless is inherently unpredictable. But adhoc mode is definitely going to be much faster compared to infrastructure mode (i.e., a router) since it eliminates one unnecessary wireless hop.


If I only link a single computer to the wireless signal transmitted from a router, would it still be split in infrastructure mode?

eibgrad said:

Again, this adhoc network I’m proposing has no affect on any other network connections on any computer, none. Of course, you’ll want to use a different wireless channel for it than the wireless router to avoid interference (btw, channels 1, 6, and 11 provide maximum separation). The only issue becomes range. You *might* have to resort to a wireless router (really just a WAP (wireless access point)) if range becomes an issue and significantly affects performance.

IOW, you would try this first:

[pc #1 (adhoc mode)]<--wireless-->[pc #2 (adhoc mode)]

…but might have to consider the following to extend range and increase signal strength (and as a result increase performance):

[pc #1 (infrastructure mode)]<--wireless-->[wap]<--wireless-->[pc #2 (infrastructure mode)]

But as I said, you will need the wireless adapters regardless, so try adhoc first and keep your fingers crossed you won’t need to consider a WAP as well.


So, you're saying that having two 802.11n adapters in adhoc mode would work together. But, do they all do this?
And if I buy two adapters, and then have to buy a router anyway, I would have to throw one away, because the other two computers would be connected via the router's Gigabit LAN ports.

Anonymous
March 7, 2010 8:52:01 AM

Track wrote: "is the computer on the third floor actually connected to the internet connection of the first one or is it Just file sharing? According to what you said, the speed is slow, but the internet is still there."


Just to clarify (because I think you should probably go with eibgrad's suggestions) the third floor router just serves for file sharing and has no internet. I use it up there because there's space to run a flatbed scanner.

I do weekly scans of newspaper cuttings for a political charity -- these are then sent by wireless to the computer on the second floor and e-mailed from there because it is within reliable wireless reach of the router on the 1st floor -- which is connected to the internet.

The link between 3rd and 2nd floors is slow by the standards you require but might be faster with G or N equipment.

But as eibgrad points out, two wireless adapters in ad hoc mode cut out the middleman and can run at full speed (reception quality permitting).
March 7, 2010 8:57:42 AM

Oh, let me just add:

I NEED the far computer to access both the computer it is linked to (through the N adapters), AND the one it is connected to in a Gigabit LAN network.

If I can't have the third computer access the two computers, it is useless.
Anonymous
March 7, 2010 9:11:56 AM

Hmmm....For three computers all connecting with each other, as and when required, I think you will need a router.

March 7, 2010 9:17:21 AM

Quote:
Hmmm....For three computers all connecting with each other, as and when required, I think you will need a router.


But what if the two computers are already connected together by other means.

I'm currently trying to decide between these three adapters:

Edimax EW-7728In

D-Link DWA-140

TP-Link TL-WN821N

I was thinking the first is the best since it's not USB but rather PCI. However, it seems to have some negative reviews, and I do not trust Edimax very much.
Anonymous
March 7, 2010 10:04:11 AM

I'd go ahead and get the adapter -- because you can always use one whatever the configuration you finally arrive at.

Go with PCI -- certainly the older ones (Netgear and unbranded) that I use seem to offer better reception than their USB contemporaries.

I wouldn't worry about brand too much -- they all share a small pool of chipsets from other manufacturers, but I like Netgear's support forum enough to contribute to it.
March 7, 2010 6:19:01 PM

Track said:
So, you're saying that in order to separate the non-internet network from the internet network, I have to set a specific subnet address, which I understand is the internal IP address that links between me and my internet transmitting device that then links me with an external "net" address to my ISP.


You have an existing network connection that is “linked” to the Internet router via a gateway IP. The gateway IP tells Windows how to find any IP address not available on any of the local network connections you have established. So far you have only the one. Once you add the second network connection between those two machines, it will have a different subnet but NO gateway IP since the first connection already handles network addresses not on either of your now TWO local network connections.

Track said:
But, the question is, is that what truly makes it impossible for computer #3 to connect to my primary internet connection? As in, what if I just didn't set any of these addresses.


Well now you’ve introduced a computer #3 and I’m not sure how this fits in. You need to make that clearer. So far I’m only aware of the two computer scenario.

Track said:
Question is, with this naming scheme, how do I know which way to access Network #1 (internet) and Network #2 (file transfer), from each computer?


Based on the IP address you specify when accessing the resource.

Computer “Jupiter”

Network Connection #1:
IP Address: 192.168.1.100
Gateway IP: 192.168.1.1 (the IP of your Internet router)
DNS Server: 192.168.1.1 (the IP of your Internet router acting as a relay to the ISP’s DNS server(s))

Network Connection #2:
IP Address: 192.168.2.1
Gateway IP: 0.0.0.0 (N/A)
DNS Server: 0.0.0.0 (N/A)

Computer “Saturn”

Network Connection #1:
IP Address: 192.168.1.101
Gateway IP: 192.168.1.1 (the IP of your Internet router)
DNS Server: 192.168.1.1 (the IP of your Internet router acting as a relay to the ISP’s DNS server(s))

Network Connection #2:
IP Address: 192.168.2.2
Gateway IP: 0.0.0.0 (N/A)
DNS Server: 0.0.0.0 (N/A)

Let’s say “Jupiter” uses the browser to connect to Google.com. DNS indicates that Google.com is at address 72.14.204.103. Since that IP is not within the range of either Network Connection #1 or Network Connection #2, it’s routed over Network Connection #1 to the gateway IP (192.168.1.1) and out to the Internet.

Let’s say “Jupiter” wants to map a shared folder (MyMusic) on “Saturn” (using the net command). It has two choices, either Network Connection #1 or Network Connection #2. You decide which connection to use based on the IP address.

If you want to use Network Connection #1, you would specify:

net use * \\192.168.1.101\MyMusic

If you want to use Network Connection #2, you would specify:

net use * \\192.168.2.2\MyMusic

It’s that simple. The use of different subnets is what differentiates them.

NOTE: You could use named resources as well (e.g., \\Saturn\MyMusic), but the named resource will always be associated w/ first network connection (i.e., \\Saturn\MyMusic implies \\192.168.0.101\MyMusic ). The resources remain unnamed on the other network connection, but you could add names of your own choosing using LMHOSTS or WINS (beyond the current discussion).

Track said:
If I only link a single computer to the wireless signal transmitted from a router, would it still be split in infrastructure mode?


I assume what you’re asking is could you have the following:

[pc #1]<--wireless-->[wireless router/ap (infrastructure mode)](lan)<--wire-->(lan)[pc #2]

NOTE: You do NOT use the WAN port in this configuration. In fact, you don’t need a router at all but just a WAP (wireless access point) since you’re not routing (which is what the WAN port is for), just switching. We’re only considering a router because of the economics; it’s often cheaper to buy a router w/ integrated WAP rather than standalone WAP. But technically you just need a WAP for this configuration.

So yes, you can do it that way. It’s still infrastructure mode, but you would preserve bandwidth since you’re only using a single wireless hop. This is essentially fihart’s suggestion. The reason I suggested the use of two wireless N adapters is because of the expense of a wireless N router, esp. when you only need a point-to-point connection (aka adhoc). A router/WAP is overkill. To be fair, a router has a few other advantages; a DHCP server so you don’t have to manually configure each client on the 192.168.2.x network, the ability to add clients to the network in the future, etc.

Track said:
So, you're saying that having two 802.11n adapters in adhoc mode would work together. But, do they all do this?
And if I buy two adapters, and then have to buy a router anyway, I would have to throw one away, because the other two computers would be connected via the router's Gigabit LAN ports.


I don’t ever recall seeing wireless client adapters that didn’t support adhoc mode. Many ppl don’t even know it exists let alone what it is and how to use it. But it’s intended to solve problems like this, where you have a simple point-to-point requirement.

Regarding having to “throw away” an adapter, well…, none of us can predict the future. You have several ways to approach it. I’m taking the glass is half full approach and assuming adhoc will work until proven otherwise. OTOH, if you want to take the glass is half empty approach you could buy an adapter and router/WAP instead. But you could now argue why needlessly waste money on a router/WAP you may not need if adhoc is sufficient. No matter which approach you take, you can always argue the other case.

No one has a crystal ball. Take the approach you find most comfortable. Personally I would just get a pair of wireless N adapters and use adhoc mode. You’re not going to be “throwing away” the adapter. I’m sure you’ll find a use for it sooner or later, or just resell it. In fact, you might need it anyway should you use the adapter+router/WAP solution and have range issues. Rather than have one side wired to a PC, you may need to place the router/WAP equidistant between them and use wireless N adapters on each end.

[pc #1 (infrastructure mode)]<--wireless-->[wap]<--wireless-->[pc #2 (infrastructure mode)]

What’s ultimately going to work best is yet to be determined. All we can do is describe the options, you then make the assessment about which approach to take based on your own preferences and comfort level.


!