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Wireless router before or after unmanaged switch?

Last response: in Networking
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February 4, 2013 9:32:39 PM

This is my current setup:



Whenever I make large transfers to the NAS from wifi, my entire network comes to a crawl. Obviously because it's going back to the router-->switch-->NAS. Using ethernet straight to switch-->NAS doesn't congest anything. Do I have it set up right? Or should it be modem-->switch-->router? Would doing that issues as far as DHCP goes and firewall settings? So confused...

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February 5, 2013 11:22:34 AM

Nope won't work before the router....assuming your "modem" is not really a router.

In a consumer network the router provides the ability to share a IP address. If you put it before the router each device will need a real internet routable IP which generally is not available.

Your issue is not so much the router itself but the wireless. I suspect you could plug everything directly into the router LAN ports and it would work fine, adding another switch just gives you more ports.

You should not use wireless unless it is absolutely required. You want to leave wireless for connection you have no other options for. You also want to try to put anything that uses lots of bandwidth on wired connections.

Wireless has a fixed limited bandwidth that must be shared between all the machines. The more you have and the more data they transfer the worse it gets since wireless does not have a good method to control how the radio bandwidth is shared.

So I would plug you NAS directly into a router lan port and then try very hard to keep users of the NAS device on wired ports whenever possible.
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February 5, 2013 11:52:07 AM

I could probably justify the loss of transfer speed to the fact that your router is simulataneously routing clients to the gateway and also having to transfer the data from the wifi signal your NAS. This may be the case if your router is serving the DHCP as well as routing wireless clients to the rest of your network.
What you could try, is to disable the DHCP on the router and enable it on the modem directly. This may take a bit of the workload off the router and pass it over to the modem which is probably not doing too much anyway. The router will then take the role of a wireless switch granting access to the network and leaving the routing to the modem.
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February 5, 2013 12:39:39 PM

On a consumer / small business network, you typically have...

#1. Broadband modem. This provides the internet connection to the router.
#2. Router. This provides Network Address Translation so your network can all share the 1 IP given by your ISP, provides DNS forwarding services, firewall etc... In your case an Apple Airport Extreme with 802.11 b/g/n with sumultaneous dual channel N, and gigabit WAN and LAN ports. That should be plenty fast.
#3. Switch. This extends the physical port capacity of the router. FWIW, It is far better to have a single large switch than a stack of small switches from a performance perspective. The uplinks are your bottleneck.
#4. Client devices. NAS, IP Cameras, Phones, TVs, laptops, PCs, Macs etc...

And it should go without saying, but I am going to say it anyway, for your wired ethernet, you obviously need ethernet cables. Since you have Gigabit connections, I am assuming you have category 5e or category 6 cabling for this application.

Obviously something is amiss, and we need to narrow down where the issue is...

When you say network comes to a crawl when doing a transfer from WiFi, do you mean just on the client doing the transfer?
That is to be expected, it's busy, let it do its thing.
Do you mean the wireless network? Again, if you are saturating the bandwidth that is to be expected, there is only so much bandwidth available there, and depending on environmental factors, the advertised speed of your 802.11N hardware may be considerably lower than what you expect. You shouldn't saturate your WiFi with just one big file transfer, but if you are transferring big files, and someone else in the house is streaming Netflix, someone else is Playing Facebook games etc... all on the WiFi, and you've got walls in the way, electrical noise all over the place, steel, copper, and iron all over the place in home construction, well you can see what can hapen to a radio signal... and the bandwidth it carries. If your big file transfers are causing problems for everyone else, you might consider making adjustments in your WiFi driver, depending on make, model, and OS, to throttle your speed back. Say if you are on N600, throttle back to N150 and let everyone else have a crack at the airwaves...
Or do you mean wired clients experience issues when a WiFi client shoves large files over the network? That would be unexpected, and would need to be dug into further.
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February 5, 2013 1:29:58 PM

Yes, when I say crawl it's on every client on the network. I guess it's what I originally suspected, since the wireless file transfer to the NAS will eat up the bandwidth on the wifi. I did a couple of tests, the problem doesn't exist when transferring large files to the NAS from a wired connection. I guess I'll keep the big transfers to wired only. I was trying to get feedback from other users here and see if maybe there was something else I could do, but I guess that's the limitation on the router/home setup.
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February 5, 2013 6:04:34 PM

Now hang on a sec here. So you mean the entire network slows down?

Wired as well as wireless?

If so, something is very wrong.

If you are talking about wireless connections getting saturated and having problems talking from WiFi, no shocker at all, but say you have a desktop wired into the network, and you are pushing files from your WiFi laptop to the NAS, you should still be able to say stream Netflix to your desktop... If not you have a very real problem, the question is where... I don't want to unfairly slam any component here, so here's a thought...

Temporarily remove the switch from the equation. Connect your NAS and a wired box to the router, and test. Does the problem persist?

If they do. Try swapping in some fresh cat5e cables. Do the problems persist? IF they do, call Apple for support, something is wonky with your router.

If they don't, try swapping in some fresh cat5e cables. Do the problems persist? You are looking at a switch problem. At the cost of 8 port gigabit switches, go to Amazon and get a new one...

Another possibility although far less likely is that your WiFi connection is plenty weak, and flooding your network with syn / ack packets as it transfers the files. Effectively giving you an unintentional denial of service attack on your own network. Try updating your drivers, and verify configurations...

If not, problem solved have a nice day...
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February 6, 2013 1:18:44 AM

No the wired is fine. It's the wireless that comes to a crawl.
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February 6, 2013 2:06:01 AM

What are the WiFi adapters on your wireless network? The Airport Extreme lists WirelessN simultaneous dual band, which should do 600mbps. Even with plenty of interference, unless you are on the fringes of range, you should at least get 150mbps out your connection. Unless things are simply extreme...

Does your router offer any sort of QOS settings? Sorry I am totally unfamiliar with Apple equipment other than the iPhone... If there is any sort of QOS filtering that can be prioritized, lower the priority of your file transfer protocols, CIFS / SMB, sftp, NFS, FTP etc... I can walk you through Cisco / Linksys, and Netgear QOS configs, but sadly, not Apple. Should be pretty easy though.
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February 6, 2013 3:18:21 AM

dbhosttexas said:
What are the WiFi adapters on your wireless network? The Airport Extreme lists WirelessN simultaneous dual band, which should do 600mbps. Even with plenty of interference, unless you are on the fringes of range, you should at least get 150mbps out your connection. Unless things are simply extreme...

Does your router offer any sort of QOS settings? Sorry I am totally unfamiliar with Apple equipment other than the iPhone... If there is any sort of QOS filtering that can be prioritized, lower the priority of your file transfer protocols, CIFS / SMB, sftp, NFS, FTP etc... I can walk you through Cisco / Linksys, and Netgear QOS configs, but sadly, not Apple. Should be pretty easy though.


Wired:
  • NAS
  • Printer
  • IP Camera
  • WDTV Live Plus

    Wifi:
  • iPhones
  • iPad
  • Couple laptops
  • PS3
  • WDTV Live

    Unfortunately, I do not believe the Airport Extreme has any form of QoS as far as I know. I've tried searching, but haven't found anything confirming that it does.
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    February 6, 2013 2:29:39 PM

    Yeah that could be a problem.

    Now that I see what you have tied in, yeah you have a bit of a load on the WiFi end of things... Not terrible though. Give you an idea of my breakdown...


    Router. (Cisco / Linksys EA2700).
    |
    |- Gigabit LAN port on router.
    ||-16 Port gigabit switch.
    |||- IP Cameras x 6.
    |||- CentOS iSCSI SAN filer.
    |||- CentOS HA cluster nodes x2. 6 Windows / Linux server VMs.
    |||- Windows XP workstations x2.
    |||- PS/3
    |||- DirecTV Cinema Connector.
    |
    |- Wireless LAN on router.
    ||- Wii
    ||- iPhone
    ||- 2x Android phones
    ||- 2x HP all in one printer, scanner, copier machines.
    ||- Windows XP Netbook.
    ||- iPad
    ||- Android tablet x2
    ||- Windows 7 desktop.

    When I run backup jobs on my Windows 7 desktop, or my XP netbook it kills the WiFi network. I ran the priority down on the SMB network (ports 137 through 139) and all is well even with doing my backups. The backups just take longer. No biggie.
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    February 13, 2013 12:25:37 AM

    Best answer selected by sabrewulf.
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