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Best option for extending a home network?

tangomike

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 25, 2016
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I saw that, but wondered if it applied to extension cords as well. The question is becoming moot, however, because I'm in the process of plugging the adapters into the outlets and the additional power outlets into the adapter. I decided not to use a power strip for the additional outlets because I have some 6-outlet surge protecting devices on hand. I hadn't known about the utility until you mentioned it, and I found the link on the outside of the box. Some of us need more hand-holding than others . . .
 
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tangomike

macrumors member
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Jun 25, 2016
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Tried to find it, not sure I ended up in the right place. One of the links I found ended up on a "page not found."
 
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imaccooper

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May 29, 2014
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North Carolina
I am going to follow along with this thread as I have a few Airport Expresses that I use to run music through my house wirelessly. However I have been thinking of adding ethernet to one and getting it to my carport so my IP cams and my Ring door bell work better. As of now. they hardly work bc the signal is so low. I have been reluctant to do this bc I didn't want to half my network speed. But from what I read above this would not happen. Right now I am not sure what this power line thing is, but maybe thats something specific to the OPs system. Anyway, good info here I will try this soon.

As has been stated already, running Ethernet will always be your best bet for this type of thing. If you run an Ethernet cable from your router or main switch (whichever is applicable) to an express unit, you won’t see any drop in performance.

The power line thing is a fairly clever solution to a big problem most non-oringial homeowners run into. We want to run Ethernet to different places in the house, but we have little or no access to the ceiling, walls or floor without major work. So we now have power line adapters. They quite literally adapt your power line to run your data signal. I don’t think anyone will pretend it’s as good as a straight Ethernet cable, but it allows you to get a wired signal in places where running new wires isn’t an option.

If you are looking to do this and have the ability, Ethernet is always the first choice. In the OPs case, as well as in many other people’s case, power line adapters are a better option for convenience or necessity.
 
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Ryanhdd

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Nov 1, 2007
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Virginia Beach, Virginia
As has been stated already, running Ethernet will always be your best bet for this type of thing. If you run an Ethernet cable from your router or main switch (whichever is applicable) to an express unit, you won’t see any drop in performance.

The power line thing is a fairly clever solution to a big problem most non-oringial homeowners run into. We want to run Ethernet to different places in the house, but we have little or no access to the ceiling, walls or floor without major work. So we now have power line adapters. They quite literally adapt your power line to run your data signal. I don’t think anyone will pretend it’s as good as a straight Ethernet cable, but it allows you to get a wired signal in places where running new wires isn’t an option.

If you are looking to do this and have the ability, Ethernet is always the first choice. In the OPs case, as well as in many other people’s case, power line adapters are a better option for convenience or necessity.

Great explanation!! thank you! totally crazy and also makes sense, crazy in the fact that you can actually do that. I can run ethernet and Plan to run another one for my front car port. Thank you for the very good explanation.
 
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tangomike

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 25, 2016
35
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Another mid-process update.

The powerline adapters are plugged directly into wall outlets in the study (Extreme) and the living room (Express). An early 2011 MacBook Pro running 10.8.5 (with a built-in Ethernet port and being used for convenience to check relative throughput) confirms that the adapters are delivering 107Mbps from a TWC modem and the Extreme via Ethernet. Wireless from the living room Express delivers 47Mbps. Wireless from the kitchen Express provides 68Mbps, higher than it's ever been in that location, but I have no idea why.

I began this effort to improve throughput in the kitchen and on the deck. Adding two Express to extend the wireless network has done that, and I could have stopped there. Updating the powerline adapters to obtain Ethernet connectivity in either the living room or the kitchen, depending on which configuration provided the best results, then became the goal to do even better.

Unfortunately, that objective remains elusive. Every time I've tried to switch one of the Express from wireless to Ethernet, I've lost one or more components of the network and had to troubleshoot the problem by resetting one or more of the components to factory default.

The text of an Apple Support article I posted in this thread seems to indicate that the answer might be to reset one of the Express to factory default and then set it up as an Ethernet wired device. I've not gone through all the steps because some of the terminology used seems to be outdated, and after all the false starts so far, I'm reluctant to try another solution without knowing that it's specific to my original objective to extend Ethernet from the Extreme to one of the downstairs Express and have the second downstairs Express connect wirelessly to the first one. On two occasions, Airport Utility has shown the network wirelessly connected as I envision with each of the components inline, but it never lasts. The next time I open the utility, it switches to show both Express extending wirelessly from the Extreme.

Confusion reigns at the moment.
 
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techwarrior

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Jul 30, 2009
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Ok, a lot going on here... so you seem to have partially resolved this Powerline thing by plugging the adapters directly into the wall as recommended. So, check on that one. That you get >100Mbps is a decent result, keep in mind the WAN port on Express is 100Mbps, not Gigabit. As others have stated, nothing beats direct Ethernet, but power line is a good alternative if it is impractical to pull cables through the walls. You might consider if there is a way to get both adapters on the same circuit, that tends to help and the adapters you have should get close to 1Gbps in an ideal world. One way is to run longer Ethernet from the router to Poweline Adapter 1 and plug it in to a circuit that is shared with the room the other adapter will be used in. But, again, if you are getting 100+ crossing circuits, good enough given the Express will never use more than 100Mbps over Powerline.

Back to how to connect the Express(es). Again, wireless connections between an Express and the rest of your network will work, but is not optimal. Try one Express connected to power line and see what that does.

As for Airport Utility, the article is a bit outdated, but still largely accurate. I have never had to reset my Airports to reconfigure them. When you have an Express connected via Ethernet (can do this directly connected to the router initially if it is easier), go to Wireless and set the Create a wireless network and provide identical credentials to the router WiFi, including the same WPA option. Next, go to Network and set it to Off (Bridge Mode). Then save and wait for the Express to restart and re-appear in the utility. At this point, you can unplug the Express and move it to any location you intend to test, and plug in the Powerline Ethernet, then the Express.

Another trick I use is to name the 2.4 and 5Ghz networks slightly different, NETWORK24 and NETWORK5G for instance. When ready to test speed, connect to the 5G network and run the speedtest. Then connect to the 24 and and test. Theoretically, you should see better speeds in 5G, but never more than the ISP speeds, and never more than 100Mbps if connected wirelessly to an Express (due to the WAN Ethernet limitation). To verify ISP speeds, run a test while connected direct to the router via Ethernet.

Unfortunately, current WiFi technology constrains you somewhat. Given 100Mbps Ethernet on the Express, and provided your ISP service is >100Mbps, any devices connected wireless or ethernet to the Express will max out at 100Mbps. But, when connected to the router's AC network, you would tend to see faster speeds. 100Mbps is adequate for most applications. 1080p streaming only uses 4-10Mbps at most. And for general internet surfing, 100Mbps is admirable speed. If you plan to download something large from the www, use a device connected to the router, and if wireless to the 5G band on the router.
 
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imaccooper

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May 29, 2014
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North Carolina
Unfortunately, current WiFi technology constrains you somewhat. Given 100Mbps Ethernet on the Express, and provided your ISP service is >100Mbps, any devices connected wireless or ethernet to the Express will max out at 100Mbps. But, when connected to the router's AC network, you would tend to see faster speeds. 100Mbps is adequate for most applications. 1080p streaming only uses 4-10Mbps at most. And for general internet surfing, 100Mbps is admirable speed. If you plan to download something large from the www, use a device connected to the router, and if wireless to the 5G band on the router.

I second all the information in the post, but I also want to put in that I completely agree with the 100mbps speed. Obviously we all want faster, but you are likely not getting more than 100mbps from your isp so your equipment is technically limited by todays standards, but in the real world of your house, everything you have will get your as close to 100% of your potential speed as anything else.

My home equipment is a few years old, but it isn't worth it to me to upgrade yet because I can only theoretically get 100mbps from my isp and I typically see 60mbps or so in the evenings when I most care about internet speed. At any given point, I am streaming live TV over my internet, I am typically accessing some type of website wirelessly, my wife is usually on facebook watching videos wirelessly and I've got probably 25 devices connected to the internet and I don't ever have internet trouble. Now when Google fiber decides they want to come the extra 7 or 8 miles down the road from where they service, then it might be time to upgrade because...well...I just want to tell people that I have gigabit fiber because that is cool. But I suspect that by the time Google decides to come down to me, I'll be fielding offers from a couple of companies wanting to give me true 5g speeds for my network and that will make me even more happy.:D

I also second the idea of taking advantage of your 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands and what they are better at. I currently put my phone on the 2.4ghz band because I can get better signal distance outside while I'm cutting the grass or something so I can listen to music without burning data. Anything that is within decent range and not obstructed by more than one or two walls, I put it on the 5ghz band to take advantage of the better connection type. I also connect devices like my ipad to both and then prioritize the 5ghz channel so it connects to that one first but I can just click on the other SSID and it switches quickly so I can have better roaming freedom. Oh how I wish I could afford some Aruba IAPs that would do it all automatically, but I'll keep my $500 for something else.
 
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techwarrior

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Now when Google fiber decides they want to come the extra 7 or 8 miles down the road from where they service, then it might be time to upgrade because...well...I just want to tell people that I have gigabit fiber because that is cool. But I suspect that by the time Google decides to come down to me, I'll be fielding offers from a couple of companies wanting to give me true 5g speeds for my network and that will make me even more happy.:D
.

Some of the providers are considering offering 5G Fixed Wireless internet service to homes in the coming year(s). If so, we may have choices such as using our cell carrier for Fixed Home ISP. This service promises to be less costly to deploy (no optical networks to deploy to every home), and is expected to enable us to enjoy 1Gbps or more Full Duplex (up and download). If\When this happens, it will likely be about the same time as 802.11ax which is due to be released officially in early 2018, but some manufacturers are already building chips for this standard. 802.11ax is intended to support 10Gbps, though more likely it will end up in the 1-4Gbps range. It uses both 2.4 and 5Ghz bands simultaneous, so more range. And, it is designed to use priority flags on packets so equipment will quickly detect packets that are not intended for that device and drop them quicker, thus reducing interference from overlapping networks, and other radios signals operating in the same bands. Net result will be far superior Home WiFi without necessarily needing to go the route of Mesh or complicated Roaming\Multi-Access Point setups like we have to do now.
 
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tangomike

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 25, 2016
35
6
Thank you, techwarrior, for eliminating most of my confusion. Part (or most?) of my dilemma is self-generated because the notion of improving speed is so addictive. If I may paraphrase your reply to confirm I understand, here goes:
  1. The way to configure one of the Express for Ethernet is to connect it directly to the Extreme (LAN to WAN?) to set it up. Since Express has already been setup for wireless, should I reset to factory default prior to doing this?
  2. Extending with Express over powerline that's currently providing no more than 100Mbps is the best I can do because the Express can't do better, so there's no need to reconfigure the powerlines to be on the same circuit. And in a practical sense, that's an acceptable result.
  3. If I decided to bite the bullet on having purchased the Express rather than another Extreme, can I get Extreme speeds with a second one connected through my powerline, or does the 100Mbps it's providing limit the Extreme?
  4. Would a second Extreme installed downstairs to extend the wireless network be the solution I should have chosen to begin with?
 
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imaccooper

macrumors 6502
May 29, 2014
308
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North Carolina
Some of the providers are considering offering 5G Fixed Wireless internet service to homes in the coming year(s). If so, we may have choices such as using our cell carrier for Fixed Home ISP. This service promises to be less costly to deploy (no optical networks to deploy to every home), and is expected to enable us to enjoy 1Gbps or more Full Duplex (up and download). If\When this happens, it will likely be about the same time as 802.11ax which is due to be released officially in early 2018, but some manufacturers are already building chips for this standard. 802.11ax is intended to support 10Gbps, though more likely it will end up in the 1-4Gbps range. It uses both 2.4 and 5Ghz bands simultaneous, so more range. And, it is designed to use priority flags on packets so equipment will quickly detect packets that are not intended for that device and drop them quicker, thus reducing interference from overlapping networks, and other radios signals operating in the same bands. Net result will be far superior Home WiFi without necessarily needing to go the route of Mesh or complicated Roaming\Multi-Access Point setups like we have to do now.

That's what I'm hoping for. I've been holding off on any major updates for a year or so. I got an AC router soon after it was released and I intend to do the same with AX because it will be a big jump in tech. I actually intend to do this for my home network and I will be ready to buy some additional units for my network at work so I'm hoping to do the same with those.
 
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tangomike

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 25, 2016
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As for what I'm getting from my ISP, I just ran a test and in the study about five feet from the Extreme, and I'm getting 352Mbps. If a second Extreme downstairs can improve throughput significantly over what I'm getting now, even considering that 100Mbps is perfectly adequate, I might try it.
 
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techwarrior

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Jul 30, 2009
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Thanks for this belvdr, I have been using TL-PA8010P for about 2 years and knew my speeds were >100Mbps but didn't know exactly. With the utility I see my links are nearly 200Mbps, and I setup the secure mode for extra measure of safety. And, I was able to set QOS for my VoIP phones to boot. The utility is slam dunk easy.

BTW, my Powerline devices are on different circuits, so if I took the time to get them on the same circuits, I am certain i would see something to the tune of 400Mbps or more. I suspect the 1Gbps they claim is only achievable in rare cases with devices right next to each other on short runs on the same circuit.
[doublepost=1506093841][/doublepost]
As for what I'm getting from my ISP, I just ran a test and in the study about five feet from the Extreme, and I'm getting 352Mbps. If a second Extreme downstairs can improve throughput significantly over what I'm getting now, even considering that 100Mbps is perfectly adequate, I might try it.

That is an admirable ISP service level, I am in the dark ages with about 70Mbps. Yes, a second Extreme would give you a 1Gbps Ethernet link to the router, but again Powerline will limit that somewhat. Make sure you understand the Powerline speeds before jumping in for another Extreme, it may not give you much benefit if your Powerline caps out in the 100Mbps range.

But, again, when you need to download something big, do it near the router so you can take advantage of the 300+ Mbps speeds. Typically, mobile devices don't do large downloads so the 100Mbps or so should be more than adequate for the other rooms.

In short, don't thrown a bunch of money at it for little real world benefit, unless your money tree in the backyard is bearing excess fruit this year.
[doublepost=1506094227][/doublepost]
Thank you, techwarrior, for eliminating most of my confusion. Part (or most?) of my dilemma is self-generated because the notion of improving speed is so addictive. If I may paraphrase your reply to confirm I understand, here goes:
  1. The way to configure one of the Express for Ethernet is to connect it directly to the Extreme (LAN to WAN?) to set it up. Since Express has already been setup for wireless, should I reset to factory default prior to doing this?
  2. Extending with Express over powerline that's currently providing no more than 100Mbps is the best I can do because the Express can't do better, so there's no need to reconfigure the powerlines to be on the same circuit. And in a practical sense, that's an acceptable result.
  3. If I decided to bite the bullet on having purchased the Express rather than another Extreme, can I get Extreme speeds with a second one connected through my powerline, or does the 100Mbps it's providing limit the Extreme?
  4. Would a second Extreme installed downstairs to extend the wireless network be the solution I should have chosen to begin with?

1. Yes, plug Ethernet from WAN (Express) to LAN (Extreme). You should not need to reset the setting on the Express.
2. Your performance will always be limited by the weakest link in the path, so if Powerline gives you 100Mbps, even another Extreme will do no better than 100Mbps on the uplink leg of the path.
3. Wireless extending will generally cut performance in half, so even if a second Extreme vs Express were used, it may not really improve speeds downstairs.
4. It will likely all change in the coming year or two, so save some nickels and wait for the next-gen to arrive. If 100Mbps downstairs achieves adequate results, stick to it for now.
 
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imaccooper

macrumors 6502
May 29, 2014
308
99
North Carolina
Thank you, techwarrior, for eliminating most of my confusion. Part (or most?) of my dilemma is self-generated because the notion of improving speed is so addictive. If I may paraphrase your reply to confirm I understand, here goes:
  1. The way to configure one of the Express for Ethernet is to connect it directly to the Extreme (LAN to WAN?) to set it up. Since Express has already been setup for wireless, should I reset to factory default prior to doing this?
  2. Extending with Express over powerline that's currently providing no more than 100Mbps is the best I can do because the Express can't do better, so there's no need to reconfigure the powerlines to be on the same circuit. And in a practical sense, that's an acceptable result.
  3. If I decided to bite the bullet on having purchased the Express rather than another Extreme, can I get Extreme speeds with a second one connected through my powerline, or does the 100Mbps it's providing limit the Extreme?
  4. Would a second Extreme installed downstairs to extend the wireless network be the solution I should have chosen to begin with?

  1. Sounds like you got it. I would suggest reseting it to default as you will be changing almost every setting anyway and it will make it easier for you to keep track of what is done.
  2. Correct
  3. A network works in sections and nothing down the line will be faster than something upstream. Your line in from your ISP is first (at least in what you can control). Whatever speed your are getting there is as good as it gets. And from what you just posted, you have quite a good speed. Then comes your modem which needs to be at or above the speed your are receiving which it appears that it is. Then comes your router which is often the same device that provides wireless at the home level. Your extreme offers theoretical speeds in this range so shouldn't be a problem. Then in your case comes the fun part. Whatever speed you are getting at the extreme is as fast as it can possibly be, but you have two things to consider. First, you need to know what is possible across your powerline adapters. whatever speed that is, will be as good as you can get no matter what device you plug into the other end. After that is sorted, the device you actually plug in has a maximum speed. In your case, those express devices can only accept 100mbps so thats all you will get out of them. If your powerline adapters can do more than 100mbps, then you will increase speed by getting a more capable device, but only to the maximum of the powerline adapters or the new device (whichever is lower). There are additional things after this like wifi optimization that we can talk about, but this is where your speed will be gained or lost.
  4. For even more speed it would be, assuming your powerline adapters can handle more than 100mbps. If they cannot, then it wont matter which device is at the other end of it you will only get 100mbps. As far as what you should have done, don't knock yourself for trying to use what you have. If at the end of the day your are getting 100mbps across your whole house and deck, then in my book you have a pretty good thing going. Don't scratch that upgrade itch too much, it will come back to bite you when you spend hundreds and even thousands on stuff that really doesn't get you much practical benefit (kinda like how everyone wants to buy a high end iMac with 64gb of ram and all they do is word processing). Sometimes, as much as I would love to have all the greatest stuff constantly, it just doesn't make practical sense to spend money on it for little return on investment.
 
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tangomike

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 25, 2016
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To all:

I'm 75 years old, and since buying my first computer, a PowerBook 180 to take on the road while flying for an airline, I've been "behind the power curve" (pilot jargon) with every computer, cell phone, tablet, etc., I've ever owned. The same goes for learning to use software, and over the years I've visited more forums than I can count trying to learn more about how to achieve whatever the objective of the moment happens to be.

When i look back over the replies to this thread, I am once again amazed at the willingness of forum members to share their time and expertise with those of us who need help.

I've stumbled around in the dark with this effort and bought some equipment I'll probably not end up using. I'm going to try an Extreme downstairs, which might end up being another purchase that doesn't get any better speed than I currently have, but on the upside, I have a friend who needs to improve performance of his network in a small office, and I think he'll be interested in whatever I don't end up using.

Which I can now help him install(?) and ensure that he knows what to expect.

Hopefully, that's my throughput out of all this. I'll offer a final report if that would be of assistance to some of the members who have been following the thread.
 
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techwarrior

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Jul 30, 2009
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Looking forward to your final analysis. I have received some great help on this forum from other members, and learn stuff in the process, so it is with pleasure that I reciprocate when possible.

If nothing else, you can always sell the excess gear on eBay and recoup most of your investment in the trials and errors.
 
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tangomike

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Original poster
Jun 25, 2016
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Here's the result of my latest network configuration change, in which I replaced the living room Express with a second Extreme to extend the network wirelessly.

Using my MacBook Pro and the speediest.net app, I'm getting 355Mbps in both the study and living room, 79 in the kitchen, and 56 on the deck. Based on my two previous configurations, with one Express in the living room, then adding a second Express in the utility room off the kitchen, the deck received the most improvement, and the difference when using an iPad to read the paper, for example, is astonishing. What used to be an experience of often waiting minutes for pages to load is now so fast that when the loading progress appears, it's gone in less than a second. I just paged through today's paper about as fast as I could, and it never hung up.

Having said that, was the improvement worth the time and money?

Other than for bragging rights, not really. i don't have to read the paper in the kitchen, and when I had the two Express installed, performance had improved enough to avoid the long waits. For me, it was a matter of answering the question of whether I could improve throughput enough to cover the entire house better. Once I began, it was like the mother of all bubble gum on my shoe, and giving up was not an option.

One more time, thanks to all who helped me climb out of being in way over my head.
 
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imaccooper

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May 29, 2014
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Having said that, was the improvement worth the time and money?

Other than for bragging rights, not really. i don't have to read the paper in the kitchen, and when I had the two Express installed, performance had improved enough to avoid the long waits. For me, it was a matter of answering the question of whether I could improve throughput enough to cover the entire house better. Once I began, it was like the mother of all bubble gum on my shoe, and giving up was not an option.

One more time, thanks to all who helped me climb out of being in way over my head.

Been there many times. I don’t really need to do it, but I’ve started so I know I just have to do it all the way. I’m glad you got some improvements out of your network and got some questions answered in the process.

As far as the results, I doubt you will ever see a slow down doing anything you want to do with the speeds you mentioned. That doesn’t mean things won’t need updated periodically, but continuing to replicate that setup should serve you just fine.
 
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