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Old Aug 9, 2013, 11:31 AM   #1
Dadioh
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Multiple Airport Extremes in Home Network

First of all, I hope this is the right sub-forum to post this in. If not, mod is free to move it.

I am a 95% Apple home environment and in keeping with that my networking gear is made up of Airport Extremes. I am actually using 3 of them at the moment but I may pair that back to 2 based on what information I can gather through this topic.

My current setup is as drawn in the top half of the attachment.

My iMac (27" 2009 i7 180GB SSD + 1TB HDD) is where I do DVD/BluRay ripping and MP4 encoding. My Mac Mini (2011 i5 128GB SSD + 500GB HDD) is my media center hooked to my TV. Attached to the Mini via USB2 I have a 4 bay external disk enclosure with 4 x 2TB drives containing DVD images and MP4 files. I have 3 Airport Extreme dual band N routers in the house that I have called: Internet, Media, Extender.

When I first set this up I had in mind to use the Media Extreme as a way for wireless streaming (iPads, iPhones, Macbooks) to be separate from the wired connection going through the Internet Extreme. Whether that is actually a benefit or not I am not sure.

I have verified that the iMac and Mini are both reporting connection at 1000baseT full duplex (automatic settings).

The issue that I am having is that when I rip/encode a new movie on the iMac I need to transfer those rather large files over the network to my Mini media center. I noticed the other day that I was only getting about 11.5MB/s between the iMac and Mini. Initially I thought maybe that was a limit of the USB2 connection to the external disk enclosure but I now I routinely get >30MB/s on USB2 transfers of large files.

So I did a quick experiment and copied a 4GB MP4 file onto the desktop of my iMac which places it on the SSD. I then copied it to the desktop of the Mini. Transferring from SSD to SSD eliminates any sort of bandwidth limit of the media and should show just the capability of the GE wired link. I still get 11.5MB/s.

So now I am wondering if the cheap TP-Link GE switch may be the bottle neck. I am pretty sure I did some tests when I first got the switch that showed it giving transfer rates >80MB/s but now I am not so sure.

I am thinking of eliminating one of the Extremes as in the lower half of the attachment. This would get the GE switch out of the path and just have a connection between the extremes.

Are there some settings in the Airport Extreme that I should also be paying attention to? The extender extreme is setup in bridge mode so all DHCP comes from the internet extreme. Anything else I should be paying attention to?

Any help appreciated.
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Old Aug 9, 2013, 02:38 PM   #2
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Are all the connections in the diagram wired ones?
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Old Aug 9, 2013, 02:51 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Cinephi1e View Post
Are all the connections in the diagram wired ones?
Yes. Those are all wired Gigabit Ethernet on CAT5e cabling. I also have lots of wireless connections from Macbooks, iPads, iPods, and iPhones but I don't think those are related to my issue.
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Old Aug 9, 2013, 02:52 PM   #4
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Are you using cat 5e or 6e cables?

I would try direct connection from mini to iMac and test transfer speed. I find that some GE switches don't really give GE speed.

Cinephi1e, His diagram shows "GE" on all connections. Probably means gigabit ethernet.
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Old Aug 9, 2013, 03:22 PM   #5
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Can I direct connect them? I would need a crossed over Ethernet cable and manually set IP address I guess. Unless the macs auto detect direct connection and do the crossover for you. That might be the case because I seem to remember reading about data migration over direct Ethernet connection.
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Old Aug 9, 2013, 04:02 PM   #6
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Thumbs up

I sympathize with your frustration here with the slowness.

Here are just a couple of thoughts that hopefully may help -

The Airport Extreme has one port for internet/WAN and 3 for your network itself. Have you considered simply taking the switch out of the equation?

It would be something like this
Internet
|
AE1
|
from AE1 run two more AE units in bridged mode where AE1 is the master or control of all networking internally DHCP (reserved). The third port on the AE1 you can connect directly to your computer. All of the AE units can be set for WiFi.

Internet -
AE1
cable to -> computer
cable to -> AE2 via Bridge
cable to -> AE3 via Bridge

All of the AEs could be set up for WiFi.

If you need the switch, put it between the first computer and AE1.

As for the switch, if it is a 10/100/1000 or a 100/1000, it may be defaulting to 100 and thus the 11 mbs transfers. If you try to transfer data from SSD in one computer to the USB in another computer, the switch may default to 10 or 100 given the destination (yeah, makes no sense but it happens).

WiFi Bridge - it is possible to do bridge mode via WiFi but I don't recommend it if speed is relevant. Cable is always your best bet.

Alternatives - This is not instead of using AE's but in addition. Depending on how your dwelling is electrically wired, you could check to see if Powerline wold work well enough for your purposes. I set up a friends' home with a combination of AEs and Powerline and she is very happy. In my place, it wont work well due to the type of wiring. What this gives you is an Ethernet port option in multiple rooms (as you plug these into wall outlets and the signal travels along the electrical wiring). The Powerline devices are not too expensive but again its a matter of your home wiring and also making sure to get the better Powerline devices. (read up on them first)

My environment - I set up a system similar to yours when I was in a two story home and used AEs and bridge mode as the most successful way to handle both wireless for iphones, and similar along with the Cat5e/6 for direct communications between the AEs themselves. Each AE has 3 ports so if they were local to computers I would connect directly to the AEs via cable.

Hope this helps a bit or at least lets you try it out and see where your bottlenecks are. I would do transfers while testing between the SSD drives of your computers and not the external USB enclosure.
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Old Aug 9, 2013, 04:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phrehdd View Post
I sympathize with your frustration here with the slowness.

Here are just a couple of thoughts that hopefully may help -

The Airport Extreme has one port for internet/WAN and 3 for your network itself. Have you considered simply taking the switch out of the equation?

It would be something like this

Internet -
AE1
cable to -> computer
cable to -> AE2 via Bridge
cable to -> AE3 via Bridge

All of the AEs could be set up for WiFi.

Hope this helps a bit or at least lets you try it out and see where your bottlenecks are. I would do transfers while testing between the SSD drives of your computers and not the external USB enclosure.
Thanks. I think this is the direction I am going with the lower part of my diagram. Hope to try it out tonight. I am pretty sure I can get away with just 2 AE's in the house. The dedicated media streaming one is probably not really helping anything. I'll keep it as a spare in case I get another lightning hit near the house that wipes out my main router (already happened once).
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Old Aug 9, 2013, 04:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dadioh View Post
Thanks. I think this is the direction I am going with the lower part of my diagram. Hope to try it out tonight. I am pretty sure I can get away with just 2 AE's in the house. The dedicated media streaming one is probably not really helping anything. I'll keep it as a spare in case I get another lightning hit near the house that wipes out my main router (already happened once).
I will admit I am not a fan of the AE's. Not because the hardware is problematic but I honestly hate how Apple dumbed down the software to handle the AE and Express. However, it is still very doable and again, examine bridge mode, setting up DHCP reserved, and testing how your WiFi would work for say an iPad or iPhone if both (or three AEs handle Wifi) if you walk around your home. The latter can be challenging if your iPhone, as example insists on staying WiFi connected to exactly one of the two AE's no matter where you are as opposed to letting you roam and pick up the other one as you get closers. It has been a while for me but I do recall there was a way to make sure you didn't have this problem. If I recall, I'll post what I did.

Presently, I opted out of using the AE (I moved) and got a WiFi N router with 7 usable ports. My place is small enough that the WiFi for iPhone and Ipad work fine.

I have all of these connected to my one WiFi router via cable -
Mac Mini, 2 NAS storage, TiVo, large screen TV, AVR, and Blu Ray player. I do have a spare switch in case I choose to expand. The TV, TiVo and Blu Ray player all can do streaming and not all have the same sources (Netflix, Amazon, Vudu etc.). I am extremely happy with my set up now but then again in my old place, the AEs once configured properly worked without any flaws for months on end.

Last edited by phrehdd; Aug 9, 2013 at 04:43 PM.
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Old Aug 9, 2013, 07:38 PM   #9
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I got a chance to try some experiments tonight. The 10GE switch is not the issue. If there are 2 AE's between the iMac and Mini then I get the 11.5MB/s. If I connect both the mini and iMac to the same router then I get >100MB/s. The problem is that with my house setup I will have to run a second cat5e cable about 40 feet long between the airport internet and the airport extender since I would need to use the existing connection to attach airport internet direct to the mac mini. Definitely doable.

The interesting thing is that if I make the airport extender an "extension" of the wifi network then the 11.5MB/s drops to 7 MB/s. So right now the airport extender is setting up it's own wifi network.

So bottom line is that having 2 machines connected sequentially through 2 airport extremes will throttle transfer speed to 11.5MB/s. If you want full GE speed you have to have the 2 machines wired to the same router to get >100MB/s.
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Old Aug 9, 2013, 10:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
So bottom line is that having 2 machines connected sequentially through 2 airport extremes will throttle transfer speed to 11.5MB/s. If you want full GE speed you have to have the 2 machines wired to the same router to get >100MB/s.
I have three Airport Extreme routers all wired together with Cat6 to create a roaming network in my home. I did a quick transfer 500MB file on my MBP wired to one AEBS to my Mac mini wired to the most distant AEBS. I saw just over 100MB/s (800Mb/s) during the transfer. A very rough schematic below:

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Old Aug 10, 2013, 08:50 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by OmegaRed1723 View Post
I have three Airport Extreme routers all wired together with Cat6 to create a roaming network in my home. I did a quick transfer 500MB file on my MBP wired to one AEBS to my Mac mini wired to the most distant AEBS. I saw just over 100MB/s (800Mb/s) during the transfer. A very rough schematic below:

Image
Interesting. I wonder what is different about my setup. It can't be cabling since I get over 100MB/s with the same cat5e cable connected directly into my extreme Internet router. It is only when I daisy chain the extremes. Can't find any kind of detailed settings in the router that might affect this.
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Old Aug 10, 2013, 09:09 AM   #12
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Is the second router set to extend the network?
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Old Aug 10, 2013, 09:15 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dadioh View Post
Interesting. I wonder what is different about my setup. It can't be cabling since I get over 100MB/s with the same cat5e cable connected directly into my extreme Internet router. It is only when I daisy chain the extremes. Can't find any kind of detailed settings in the router that might affect this.
Maybe try using the WAN port instead of LAN port or vice versa.
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Old Aug 10, 2013, 09:42 AM   #14
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Is the second router set to extend the network?
No. It is in bridge mode (i.e. it does not provide DHCP service) but if I extend the wireless network, rather than create a separate wireless network then it drops from 11.5MB/s to 8.5MB/s. So it gets worse.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by smellalot View Post
Maybe try using the WAN port instead of LAN port or vice versa.
I thought that the WAN port was only for connection to internet connection. Can you connect from WAN on one to LAN on the other?
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Old Aug 10, 2013, 10:05 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dadioh View Post
No. It is in bridge mode (i.e. it does not provide DHCP service) but if I extend the wireless network, rather than create a separate wireless network then it drops from 11.5MB/s to 8.5MB/s. So it gets worse.

----------



I thought that the WAN port was only for connection to internet connection. Can you connect from WAN on one to LAN on the other?
100% wired is spot on. You should be using the wan port on the primary and secondary.

Net > wan
LAN > wan

If that makes sense

----------

Here>>>>

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3765023?start=0&tstart=0
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Old Aug 10, 2013, 10:47 AM   #16
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I thought that the WAN port was only for connection to internet connection. Can you connect from WAN on one to LAN on the other?
I dont know. But it kind of makes sense to use the wan port on the extending APE since in this case it is where the APE connects to its 'uplink'.

Actually, I have my network configured that way. Airport express WAN to LAN on AirPort Extreme.
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Old Aug 10, 2013, 10:53 AM   #17
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I have a setup very similar to OmegaRed and I am getting similar speeds. I also use both the WAN and LAN ports as Gav2k mentioned, though I find it hard to believe that that is what is causing your slow speeds. I think that you may have a one or more bad ports on an AE or a bad cable line somewhere.
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Old Aug 10, 2013, 12:37 PM   #18
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I concur with Cinephi1e that it might be a cable issue. Are you sure you aren't using a Cat5 somewhere in the mix, instead of Cat5e or Cat6? Cat5 is only 100Mbps (12.5MB/s), so I would double check that.

To further clarify my network configuration, my secondary and tertiary AEBS's both use identical settings in AirPort Utility v6.3. Under the 'Wireless' tab, the Network Mode is set to "Create a wireless network," using the same information as the main AEBS in my network. Under the 'Network' tab, the Router Mode is set to "Off (Bridge Mode)." I also updated my picture to reflect what ports I'm using.

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Old Aug 10, 2013, 01:05 PM   #19
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I concur with Cinephi1e that it might be a cable issue. Are you sure you aren't using a Cat5 somewhere in the mix, instead of Cat5e or Cat6? Cat5 is only 100Mbps (12.5MB/s), so I would double check that.

To further clarify my network configuration, my secondary and tertiary AEBS's both use identical settings in AirPort Utility v6.3. Under the 'Wireless' tab, the Network Mode is set to "Create a wireless network," using the same information as the main AEBS in my network. Under the 'Network' tab, the Router Mode is set to "Off (Bridge Mode)." I also updated my picture to reflect what ports I'm using.

Image
I verified all of the cables and they are definitely CAT5e. I tried using the WAN port on the extender AEBS and that does work but I still get the 11.5MB/s transfer rate. Here is my text representation of my setup. Hopefully it is clear.

iMac---CAT5e---LAN_AEBSinternet_LAN----CAT5e----WAN_AEBSextender_LAN----CAT5e----Mini

Yields 11.5MB/s transfer rate


iMac---CAT5e---LAN_AEBSinternet_LAN----CAT5e----Mini

Yields 108MB/s

As soon as I insert the AEBSextender into the path I drop from 108MB/s to 11.5MB/s. So it appears something in the routing of the AEBSextender is throttling things down. But you guys have this working on your setups so I am confused as to what to do next. I can run another CAT5e cable from the AEBSinternet router over to the Mini and that solves the issue. But it is kind of a PITA to do and I would prefer to get this working as others have.
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Old Aug 10, 2013, 01:55 PM   #20
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What happens when you swap the two extremes around. Also what gen are the two extremes?
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Old Aug 10, 2013, 03:23 PM   #21
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What happens when you swap the two extremes around. Also what gen are the two extremes?
They are all 4th generation simultaneous dual band. MC340LL/A or A1354.

Swapping them would be a bit of a pain and I can't see it helping to be honest. I already swapped out the AEBSextender with the one that used to be AEBSmedia so I have tried different AEBS hardware at the far end.
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Old Aug 10, 2013, 03:29 PM   #22
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So what I have right now (stealing the pretty diagram from OmegaRed :-) looks like this.... Still getting 11.5MB/s unless I bypass the second router and have both iMac and Mini on the same router.

To be honest I may just leave it like this. I only transfer movies once in a while and waiting 10X as long is really not that bad. It was more my obsessive compulsive behavior wanting to get it to work "because it should". It won't shorten my life at 11.5MB/s transfer rate
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Old Aug 10, 2013, 03:29 PM   #23
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They are all 4th generation simultaneous dual band. MC340LL/A or A1354.

Swapping them would be a bit of a pain and I can't see it helping to be honest. I already swapped out the AEBSextender with the one that used to be AEBSmedia so I have tried different AEBS hardware at the far end.
Honestly I think your airport dosnt like your 5e cable and wants it to be cat6
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Old Aug 11, 2013, 09:10 PM   #24
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I only use the WAN port on the router that connects to the internet modem. This is only real router. All other routers are setup as access points as you have done but only use the LAN ports to connect them to the LAN. I am actually only using old cat 5 cables because they were run 18 years ago. I get about 600-700 Mbps except for 1 drop which only gets about 100 Mbps I assume something in wall problem.

Good luck.
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Old Aug 11, 2013, 09:23 PM   #25
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Yah, this is wrong.

ONLY with WIFI router that's is DIRECTLY hooked up to your ISP modem should be using the WAN port, everybody else should use LAN ports only.

There maybe some other things wrong with your set up, but the last paragraph is the glaring one.
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