Crazy Badger

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Original poster
Apr 1, 2008
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Scotland
I've had an Airport Extreme in some shape of form for about 12 years, with one of the big flat Mac Mini looking ones before upgrading to the more modern ac version about 7 years ago.

Generally speaking, it's worked faultlessly, with just the occasional blip, but recently it's started to struggle which I'm putting down to the increasing number of devices trying to connect to it. Covid-19 as meant two of us working from home so extra laptops and phones connecting wirelessly, along with speakers and assistants. Add in the physical and virtual devices for running all of my home services, and I'm bouncing around the 50 address mark and starting to suffering from some random disconnects. Although there's no published limited, 50 seems to be accepted online, and I'd question if it's even that. I extended the network with an Airport Express about 12 months ago when suffering from some similar issues, and that seemed to fix things. Anyway, I've been thinking it's time for a new set-up for some time, so bit the bullet and ordered a Linksys Velop Tri-band system.

What a complete pain in the arse. I did eventually get one node connected to the internet and configured with some of the rules I need to route things around my network (ports 80 and 443 to an NGINX reverse proxy server) and I could access the services from outside my network, but no dice when connected inside.

I am using Pi-hole to block some adds and provide some DNS caching, but this is only on my home network, so no access from the guest one, so it's easier for everything to ping out to the internet and then come back to my external WAN IP before routing to the appropriate VM through the proxy. It works fine like that on the Airport Extreme, but won't on the Velop whatever I try. It's driving me crazy!

Any ideas what the Extreme is doing that the Velop is not? And what did people replace their Exteme's with now Apple don't have a device? Would another (second hand) Extreme improve the Wi-Fi situation and allow more device to connect?

Sorry for all the questions, and the somewhat rambly post, but I'm beginning to tear my hair out and needed a small vent :D
 

techwarrior

macrumors 65816
Jul 30, 2009
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Colorado
I have never been a fan of Linksys. They were OK before Cisco bought them, but Cisco dumbed down the Linksys line then spit them out. I doubt they ever recovered their mojo. They are good for simple needs, but I wouldn't recommend them for more complex stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if Cisco retained Intellectual Property from Linksys when they got rid of them, leaving them unable to step up again.

I replaced my AP Time Capsule and Express with Synology RT2600AC and added a RT2200AC for a mesh setup. It has been flawless with 3 IT people working from home, lots of wireless automation, 2 Apple TVs, one 4k Smart TV, one Roku, Tablo OTA DVR, phones, and iPads. At least 50 wired and wireless clients, all over a 50Mbps ISP service. All three of us use VPN and I have a small phone lab (for my primary job) with a PTP VPN running behind my router. At least 5 VoIP phones on the network at any time too, running through the dedicated VPN.

Two rules of thumb I have lived by in networking at home. Wire when you can, and use separate 2.4 and 5GHz SSIDs.

Wirelessly connecting satellite Access Points is usually a recipe for a world of hurt, particularly with Airport devices. There are so many things that can cause interference and Air Port use a single radio for both client and uplink, thus cutting bandwidth on the entire wireless network at least 50%. Mesh systems are supposed to address this with separate uplink radios on different frequencies, but not sure who well Linksys addressed this.

Separate SSID allow you to keep 5GHz devices on separate frequencies from 2.4, unless the device roams a lot (phone, tablet) where you want them to be able to switch bands as you roam. The cost of a single SSID is often flukey connections as devices switch back and forth in search for the perfect signal. Wireless itself is flukey (did I mention wire when you can?), with interference in the 2.4Ghz bands from just about anything with a radio (Bluetooth, wireless keyboards and mice, phones, microwaves, radar) and if course neighbors. .

With Synology, the router and AP handle it all, so I am back to a single SSID, and it works great. I had the RT2200 hardwired, but recently moved it to a wireless uplink for home renovations. It will eventually go back to hardwire uplinks, but it is still working great with wireless uplinks.

Synology is a cross between consumer and low end commercial gear. The router has excellent firewall capabilities for the port forwarding rules. It even has VPN capabilities and NAS with a USB connected drive. I can't say enough good things, and hope they release a WiFi 6 (AX) version some day. That said, a tad on the pricey side, but watch for deals around Holidays.

For your immediate situation, if Velop can operate wired to the router, try that. If running Cat 5e or Cat 6 to the AP locations is a challenge, consider Powerline adapters. Start with long ethernet cables, even if you have to step over them for a week or two, if that helps, then consider cleaning it up with Powerline adapters to replace ethernet cables. If Velop doesn't support wired uplinks, or if the ethernet doesn't help, I would call it a day and prepare to open the wallet.

I have had great success at 4 family sites using TP Link AV2000 Powerline adapters. You can buy a pair for about $150 on Amazon or at Fry's, and simply add one more to connect the third AP. They are essentially plug and play, or you can set shared key encryption if your home shares power with neighbors like in some MF homes. I see 1Gbps or better over the power lines typically with these, so as good as running cable without the mess of tearing up walls.

Good luck, nothing more frustrating than a flaky network! I feel for you.
 
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Crazy Badger

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Apr 1, 2008
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That's for the detailed reply.

Pretty much everything I was testing above was wired with a single Velop node. I didn't even start to look at the wi-fi part as I couldn't access my critical network services.

I've boxed it back up and it can go back to Amazon, as I wasted too much time with it yesterday and the Linksys support wasn't particularly great. I'm going to pick up a 2nd hand Extreme and replace the Express I currently have connected in another room. It's wired to the Exteme so I'll have two Extreme connected via CAT6 with some switches hanging off them for the main server and media devices connected on the network.

I'll then have 3 wireless networks (one 2.4, one 5 GHz and a guest one) and hopefully, that will deal with the various wi-fi devices around the house. What with phones, tablets, laptops, speakers, home assistants, vacuums, etc. it soon starts to add up. My lights are all Philips Hue and IKEA so at least they only take up one IP through the hub.

If that doesn't work, I'll take a look at the Synology options. I'd never really considered them for network stuff.
 

techwarrior

macrumors 65816
Jul 30, 2009
1,244
488
Colorado
That's for the detailed reply.

Pretty much everything I was testing above was wired with a single Velop node. I didn't even start to look at the wi-fi part as I couldn't access my critical network services.

I've boxed it back up and it can go back to Amazon, as I wasted too much time with it yesterday and the Linksys support wasn't particularly great. I'm going to pick up a 2nd hand Extreme and replace the Express I currently have connected in another room. It's wired to the Exteme so I'll have two Extreme connected via CAT6 with some switches hanging off them for the main server and media devices connected on the network.

I'll then have 3 wireless networks (one 2.4, one 5 GHz and a guest one) and hopefully, that will deal with the various wi-fi devices around the house. What with phones, tablets, laptops, speakers, home assistants, vacuums, etc. it soon starts to add up. My lights are all Philips Hue and IKEA so at least they only take up one IP through the hub.

If that doesn't work, I'll take a look at the Synology options. I'd never really considered them for network stuff.
Sounds like a solid move.

I seem to recall the number of client streams the Express could handle was limited, maybe that is part of the problem. Extreme is a beefier access point for sure.
 

Erehy Dobon

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Feb 16, 2018
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Like techwarrior, I am also successfully using powerline Ethernet albeit an older TP-Link series (AV600? I forget). They're about five years old now and they seem to be showing their age which I anticipated. Sometimes I can saturate my broadband connection but other times the powerline adapter offers far slower speeds. This has been happening more frequently in the past few months.

Powerline Ethernet technology continues to mature and I am planning to upgrade to the AV2000 series. Not only are the speeds faster, today's devices have better power savings when inactive.

I only use WiFi at home for devices that don't have any physical Ethernet connection capabilities: three iDevices, a Roku and an HP MFP (usually powered down). Even my notebook computer plugs into a USB-C hub that provides an Ethernet connection.

If you do deploy powerline Ethernet, be aware that the useful lifespan is finite and budget accordingly for an upgrade in a few years.
 

techwarrior

macrumors 65816
Jul 30, 2009
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488
Colorado
If you do deploy powerline Ethernet, be aware that the useful lifespan is finite and budget accordingly for an upgrade in a few years.
Not sure that will be true for AV2000 line, but older (early) versions were quickly obsolete as the industry figured out how to get more out of them.
 

pstmac

macrumors newbie
Sep 27, 2020
9
2
Indonesia
That's for the detailed reply.

Pretty much everything I was testing above was wired with a single Velop node. I didn't even start to look at the wi-fi part as I couldn't access my critical network services.

I've boxed it back up and it can go back to Amazon, as I wasted too much time with it yesterday and the Linksys support wasn't particularly great. I'm going to pick up a 2nd hand Extreme and replace the Express I currently have connected in another room. It's wired to the Exteme so I'll have two Extreme connected via CAT6 with some switches hanging off them for the main server and media devices connected on the network.

I'll then have 3 wireless networks (one 2.4, one 5 GHz and a guest one) and hopefully, that will deal with the various wi-fi devices around the house. What with phones, tablets, laptops, speakers, home assistants, vacuums, etc. it soon starts to add up. My lights are all Philips Hue and IKEA so at least they only take up one IP through the hub.

If that doesn't work, I'll take a look at the Synology options. I'd never really considered them for network stuff.

hello,
have you setup your 2nd Extreme? if yes, is it working well?
if it is working well I would like to learn the detailed setup, as I failed to do so with 2 Extreme (one 6th gen/AC) and (one 5th gen/N) as detailed here
 

Crazy Badger

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Apr 1, 2008
1,236
627
Scotland
So far, so good. My first attempt proved a little problematic as I configured the 2nd Extreme without a network cable attached and then reserved an IP address. When I moved it to the other room and connected via CAT6 I was getting some strange behaviour so started again.

I reset the 2nd Extreme with the CAT6 cable connected in the other room and didn't bother with the DHCP IP reservations and it seems to be working well so far. Next week will provide more of a challenge.

Mine are both Wi-Fi5/AC versions
 
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pstmac

macrumors newbie
Sep 27, 2020
9
2
Indonesia
So far, so good. My first attempt proved a little problematic as I configured the 2nd Extreme without a network cable attached and then reserved an IP address. When I moved it to the other room and connected via CAT6 I was getting some strange behaviour so started again.

I reset the 2nd Extreme with the CAT6 cable connected in the other room and didn't bother with the DHCP IP reservations and it seems to be working well so far. Next week will provide more of a challenge.

Mine are both Wi-Fi5/AC versions

thanks for the confirmation, and it seems I solved mine as well.
if you want to compare the settings you can see it here
 

Velin

macrumors 68000
Jul 23, 2008
1,603
1,070
Hearst Castle
My AirPort Extreme started having an issue two days ago. The fan started squealing and grinding. What a great Apple product these routers were, worked flawlessly for ~ 13 years. But the Extreme is definitely starting to get old, the tech is outdated, and not worth the effort to disassemble the Extreme and try to repair the fan.

I just picked up this TP-Link Archer 6000. It’s a great wifi router. Easy setup. Easy online interface. Powerful and a worthy replacement. Money well spent.

Also, I too use Ethernet over powerline adapters with WiFi. I love them, the technology and the signal is very robust. If I’m in a far away room, I simply pick the powerline adapter WiFi and I am good to go. I much, much prefer this to the “mesh” systems. Give me wired signal with a small local wifi box plugged into the outlet, and give me control over which access point I want.
 

Crazy Badger

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Apr 1, 2008
1,236
627
Scotland
@techwarrior I just wanted to post a huge thank you for the Synology recommendation!

I was still struggling a little with the Airport 'mesh' network, so eventually decided it was time to try something else. Based on your recommendation I bought the RT2600 and MR2200 and within 24 I have everything set up and working just as I wanted.

Setting this stuff up is never simple, but it was about as painless as I could have hoped for. There's still quite a lot to investigate with the Synology software, which looks much more capable than the somewhat dated Airport equivalent.

I would have never even considered Synology for networking as I tend to associate them with storage, but it's a very nice interface. I've already got my storage well covered with some FreeNAS servers, so won't be using it for that, but so far I'm impressed with the networking.

So thanks again!
 
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techwarrior

macrumors 65816
Jul 30, 2009
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488
Colorado
@techwarrior I just wanted to post a huge thank you for the Synology recommendation!

I was still struggling a little with the Airport 'mesh' network, so eventually decided it was time to try something else. Based on your recommendation I bought the RT2600 and MR2200 and within 24 I have everything set up and working just as I wanted.

Setting this stuff up is never simple, but it was about as painless as I could have hoped for. There's still quite a lot to investigate with the Synology software, which looks much more capable than the somewhat dated Airport equivalent.

I would have never even considered Synology for networking as I tend to associate them with storage, but it's a very nice interface. I've already got my storage well covered with some FreeNAS servers, so won't be using it for that, but so far I'm impressed with the networking.

So thanks again!
Glad it is working out for you. I have been quite satisfied with the solution, and steered my brother down this same path as well, working really well for him too.

Added bonus is, USB connected drives to these units will serve as another NAS solution if necessary.
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2013
9,178
481
Elkton, Maryland
For a network with that many devices, depending on the size of the residence, it may be worthwhile to run a dedicated router like a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X and a wireless AP. While that is overkill, you won't be disappointed.
 

Crazy Badger

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Apr 1, 2008
1,236
627
Scotland
I had briefly considered the Ubiquiti options, but it all looked a bit too complicated and a little expensive. After almost a week with the Synology setup, I'm really impressed and everything has been rock solid. I also have a much better idea of what is using my network and which devices need the most bandwidth, something that was missing in the Airport software. I still haven't looked into everything the Synology software will do, but I think it will keep me going for a good few years. Maybe by that point, it will be time for some Ubiquiti stuff?
 

Prorege1

macrumors regular
Jun 21, 2020
166
134
Happy the Synology is working well, I changed from Google Wifi mesh to the Ubiquiti eco system some three months ago with no regrets, it has a rather steep learning curve, but it's good fun.

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