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College wifi troubles - need help

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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September 3, 2012 3:42:50 PM

Alright, so over the summer I built a $1k gaming rig in order to use during college. I ordered a cheap WLAN card (This one) while I was at home since I figured it would be temporary, and I'd just go wired when I got to college.

I got to college, and sadly found out that my dorm has NO ETHERNET PORTS. The cheap card I got was getting 0-2 bars of signal, so I ordered this one to replace it. Card got here, I installed it and plugged in the CD for the drivers, and it was working decently. I afterwards did a clean wipe of the system and reinstalled the OS (Replacing the non-genuine version of Windows I had with a genuine version I got from my university), reinstalled all the drivers and reinserted the card.

Unfortunately, now my wireless connection has dropped from the ~25mbps download/upload I used to get, to ~25mbps download and 0.6mbps upload. I can't play ANY multiplayer games since I get disconnected and lag out. I know that it's not the network as every wireless device around me (2 laptops, etc) gets the same connection speeds - roughly 25-30mbps download and 20-25mbps upload. Even my tablet gets better upload speeds than my computer, at around 6mbps.

So in short, what would cause this sudden drop in upload speed, and how can I fix it? Is it the WLAN card's fault even though it worked fine before? I already tried reinstalling the drivers/card. would getting yet another wireless adapter/card fix it? Since this is for gaming, lag can't be an issue.

As a reminder, I have NO ETHERNET PORTS (If you tell me to connect to an ethernet port, as most people do, I will send Lady Gaga to grope you in your sleep), nor do I have access to the router.

More about : college wifi troubles

September 3, 2012 3:56:17 PM

Did you use the default drivers provided by the Windows installer, or those from the manufacturer's website? Because in some instances, Windows chooses the less efficient generic, or even wrong, drivers. It's always best to go to the manufacturer for the drivers, esp. for wireless.
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September 3, 2012 4:03:41 PM

I used the drivers from the manufacturer's website (Not even the CD) to make sure I got the latest ones
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September 3, 2012 4:14:03 PM

If the manufacturer provides their own wireless connection utility (most do), use it instead of WZC (Windows Zero Configuration). Or if already using the former, try the latter. IOW, try the alternative.

I’d also try a live Linux CD (e.g., Ubuntu) just to see if a change in OS returns things to normal. If it does, it would suggest a Windows config problem. If it doesn’t, it would suggest a hardware issue.
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September 3, 2012 4:27:31 PM

Alright, while I get the live CD working, I tried reinstalling the driver (And connection utility). Now I get about 15mbps down and 0.7 up/ Will try out the live disc thing and see what I get
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September 3, 2012 4:59:34 PM

I tried the wireless adapter on an Ubuntu live CD using the default drivers, and the speeds are uhh... confusing me...

Windows: ~25mbps download, 0.6mbps upload
Ubuntu Live: 7mbps download, 14mbps upload
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September 3, 2012 5:23:12 PM

You have remember something else that’s unique to your situation here. This isn’t like back home where only YOU have access to the wireless network. Everybody else is SHARING the same wireless frequency! Wireless is like any other radio based communications; only one station can be talking to another station on any given freq/channel at the same time, all other stations must WAIT. And that can dramatically change your performance numbers depending on how many concurrent users are “queued up”. And the fact you are getting these wild fluctuations is starting to convince me that’s what’s happening here.

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September 3, 2012 5:32:08 PM

1) I used Speedtest

2) I understand that, but what I don't understand is why everything else except my desktop gets the ~25mbps down/up speeds. Only my desktop has this problem, my laptop's speeds are fine, as are my roommate's laptop's, and my friend's laptop's, and every other device in here. And like I said, I used to also get the 25mbps down/up on the non-genuine version of windows I had (As in, before I did the wipe to install genuine windows)
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September 3, 2012 5:38:14 PM

I don't trust that everyone is getting 25Mbps up/down on a consistent basis. Not unless you're telling me you and several other ppl sat down together in the lobby, all ran the same exact tests, one after another, and did so repeatedly, and only you had these extreme differences. I'm not saying it couldn't be the case, but it seems far more likely you *casually* asked someone what they were getting and they reported something you would consider normal. But if you truly tested this methodically as I suggested, I might feel differently.

EDIT: Ok, well now you updated your response w/ all these other tests.
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September 3, 2012 5:48:59 PM

It's my dorm room, meaning I share it with a roommate as well as a friend who constantly spends his spare time between classes here.

I just ran the tests. Laptop upload was a bit lower than normal, but still tolerable. Desktop is crap though

Desktop
Laptop
Roommate's Laptop

Not fully sure why my laptop dropped to 7ish, it usually hits minimum 15, but the desktop speeds are pretty constant no matter what. All three devices are within 1m of each other, and neither of them is doing any internet-heavy tasks (Atm we're just browsing the internet)

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September 3, 2012 6:08:18 PM

But notice something very subtle about all those tests. They're all to different servers!

Desktop: 129.49.21.111, hosted by Towerstream, NYC

Laptop: 129.49.21.103, hosted by WanZul.net WebHosting, Secaucus NJ

Roommate's Laptop: 129.49.21.105, hosted by Towerstream, NYC

So in fact, they’re not truly comparable tests.


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September 3, 2012 6:12:51 PM

Didn't notice that. Here's a new comparison

My Laptop
My Desktop

How would I be able to get my desktop speeds to match those of my laptop?
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September 3, 2012 6:22:02 PM

You said the Ubuntu testing gave you 7mbps download, 14mbps upload. Is that fairly consistent? And is it the same server as when testing w/ Windows on the same desktop?
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September 3, 2012 6:34:24 PM

I didn't check the server on that one, but the numbers were fairly consistent. My roommate has the live CD so I'll test it when he gets back.
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September 3, 2012 8:08:55 PM

Okay, I -think- the problem may be on the software side. I tried something else as suggested by a friend.

On my laptop, getting these speeds, I bridged the connection between its wireless card and its ethernet port. I then connected my desktop through ethernet to my laptop, therefore using my laptop as an access point.

Here are the results on the desktop

Note that the WLAN card is disabled, and this is through ethernet (Desktop -> ethernet -> laptop -> WAP)

Download is a bit higher than before, upload only slightly higher / similar range, even though I'm completely bypassing the WLAN card.
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September 3, 2012 8:23:19 PM

That's why I had you load up Linux, which did show a significant difference too. Are you running any anti-virus/anti-malware software on that desktop? If so, uninstall it for now. Or perhaps try a system restore. Maybe something changed that you didn't even notice, perhaps from a recent automated software update, Windows or third-party.

That's the problem w/ computers these days. As much as you assume things have not changed and therefore can't be the reason, they're connected almost all the time to the 'net and can change behind your back and mess up your system. It's one of the reasons I don't allow Windows automatic updates, but only accept notifications, so I can tie a change in behavior back to the event.
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September 3, 2012 8:39:26 PM

I have AVG and MalwareBytes installed... So I should try uninstalling them to see if anything changes?
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September 3, 2012 9:43:18 PM

Okay, I uninstalled MWB and AVG, and restarted my system.... No change in network speed. If anything, my download speed went down a bit.

And I can't do a system restore since I recently installed windows on it, so I don't have any restore points. I could try to reset windows to factory settings.

Other than the antivirus, what else could be messing with my speeds?
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September 5, 2012 7:45:51 PM

Yup, definitely a software problem... Reinstalled windows, now the problem is gone, whoo \o/
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