extend network wirelessly or use bridge mode?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by halfmonkey, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. halfmonkey macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 17, 2011
    #1
    I'm trying to extend my network and I'm not too clear on some of the differences between simply extending the network vs using bridge mode so please forgive me if a question doesn't make sense. I also would appreciate any education you can offer.

    Here's my scenario...

    My modem and airport extreme base station is located in one corner of the house and I'm interested in extending the wi-fi reach to other far corner of my house. There are walls and floors and such between the two corners if this information is important to know and so simply using the base station doesn't reach the other part of my house.

    I've been doing some searching on Apple's website and from what I gather, I can buy an airport express to wirelessly extend the reach of the wi-fi signal to the other part of the house. In order for this to work, the airport express has to be within reach of the base station to successfully extend the wi-fi signal. Am I understanding this correctly? If I choose to go this route, when I use my laptop to connect to the network, is anything changed as far as the log-in or should everything be the same and seamlessly log-in as if there was just one base station? So by using this method, in essence, I have to place the airport express somewhere in the middle of my wi-fi reach in order to extend it to the other end of the house, correct?

    If I'm understanding the idea of bridging, wouldn't it be the same of extending the wi-fi reach but instead of placing the airport express within wi-fi reach of the original airport extreme base station, I can place it as far as I want and actually use one of the ethernet ports on the back of the airport extreme base station and connect it to the WAN port on the back of the airport express? If I go thise route, would my laptop again just log into the wireless network using my original log in information and therefore be seamless as well?

    Also, if I use the bridging technique, would it now also allow me to plug in other computers and such to the open ethernet ports on the back of the airport extreme base station and the back of the airport express or can my devices only be plugged into the back of the airport extreme base station located next to the modem?

    Another question, if I go the bridge method, am I able to use the usb port on the back of the airport express and plug in a printer so I can use it for wireless printing for all devices connected to the network?
     
  2. iAppl3Fan macrumors 6502a

    iAppl3Fan

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    #2
    If you're extending your wifi network, you'll want to have your 2nd base (e.g., airport express) plugged in via ethernet port. If you extend it wirelessly, the signal will be extremely weak and using it would be unpleasant.
     
  3. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040

    FreakinEurekan

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    #3
    While extending via Ethernet offers better performance than extending wirelessly, I think "extremely weak" and "unpleasant" are overstating it a bit.

    This knowledge base article does a good job of covering the options available to you:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4145

    Wirelessly extended networks do cut down on wifi speeds due to overhead needed to manage the extension, but depending on your usage it may not be a significant issue.
     
  4. halfmonkey thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 17, 2011
    #4
    Thanks for the link. That was the link I was reading about earlier.

    It seems that extending the wi-fi reach wirelessly is not the way to go. I'm not necessarily a heavy user but I do play my PS3 online so wirelessly extending my network may cause a slow connection and I def don't want that while playing online.

    If I'm understanding bridge mode correctly, it seems that I can connect one airport extreme to the modem and then connect the 2nd airport extreme to the first airport extreme and create a bridge mode. This will allow the first airport extreme connected to the modem to act as the router as intended and allow to assign ISP addresses, etc. The second airport extreme wiill have the router part deactivated but will still function to extend the wi-fi reach and the usb port is still good, correct? Also, If I'm understanding it correctly, I should be able to have my laptop, ipad, iphone etc connect to the original network created using the first airport extreme and whether my iphone, ipad, laptop actually connect to the wi-fi reach of the first airport extreme or the second one at the other end of my house doesn't matter, correct?
     
  5. drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Location:
    Xhystos
    #5
    Yes, that is basically correct. What you are creating is a roaming network with each AE creating a WiFi network. To do this, make sure both AEs create the SAME WiFi network. All that should be different between the two AEs is that the second one has no Internet setup and is operating in Bridge mode. What you are NOT doing is extending the WiFi network from the first AE.

    You will be able to connect all your WiFi devices to either AE and all LAN connected devices will operate at LAN speeds. If you have several LAN devices to connect to either AE, then get switches (preferably Gbit) and connect these to the AEs.

    I have 3 AEs linked by a CAT6 LAN that connect my 4 WiFi devices anywhere in my 4 story house. Works fine.
     
  6. halfmonkey thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 17, 2011
    #6
    Thanks for this information. If you don't mind, I have some follow up questions toy our response.

    When you say that all LAN connected devices will operate at LAN speeds, wouldn't that be gigabit speed since the AE are gigabit ports?

    You mentioned getting switches. Would that still be necessary even if the available LAN ports on the back of both AE are sufficient to meet my needs. Each AE has 3 LAN ports on the back. The first AE in the chain would have one used to connect the second AE so in essence, I would have 5 available LAN ports to work with. As long as my ethernet connected devices don't go over 5 devices, I'm good right? Are you just saying to get switches if I plan to have more than 5 hard wired devices?

    Also, would the speed be cut in any way whether I connected the device to the first AE or the second AE? So in my example, I want me PS3 hard connected to take advantage of the gigabit speed since I play games online. Would it matter in terms of internet spped whther I connected it to the first AE or the second AE?
     
  7. drsox, Apr 8, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2013

    drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Location:
    Xhystos
    #7
    If you get Gbit switches and connect the LAN devices to the switches, the switches will find a path that is : LAN_Device1>Switch1>Switch2>LAN_Device2. All WiFi devices will go : WiFi_Device1>AE1>Switch1>Switch2>LAN_Device2 (or >Switch2>AE2>WiFi_Device2)

    The best reason for a Gbit LAN is data rate. If you don't send big files around (e.g. DVD/BluRay files) or worry about BluRay streaming rates or have many devices active at once, then Gbit is not so important.

    I move big files around and have 30 or so active internal devices, so I invested the extra and wired all stuff with CAT6 or CAT5e and made sure all LAN connections are Gbit enabled (WiFi isn't at Gbit rates yet, but should be in 2 years or so).

    I don't know what data rates you need for good PS3 online gaming, but if all your LAN connections are Gbit enabled, then you will be able to saturate your Internet connection. You might well be OK with just Fast Ethernet, but if you are buying switches, then the extra will be minimal. Why not try it with no switches and see ? I hope your LAN connections are at least CAT5e ? If they are only CAT5, then you won't ever get Gbit rates.

    PS

    Just read your original post again - I didn't twig that you already have an AExtreme which is Gbit enabled. You will then only need a switch for your AExpress and if you need more than 3 LAN connections to your AExtreme. Oops.
     
  8. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040

    FreakinEurekan

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    #8
    You don't need a switch if the built-in LAN ports give you enough ports.

    for Internet speed, you won't see a difference between plugging into the primary or secondary AirPort. Your Internet connection speed is a fraction of your local network speed so any overhead lost going through the 2nd device will be unnoticed on Internet traffic.
     
  9. ruffrumors macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2014
    #9
    My setup just works

    I have 2nd gen 802.11n Airport Express base station plugged in to modem via ethernet cable, with extended 1st gen 802.11n Airport Express in another room. This configuration has the primary base station in bridge mode and the receiving base station in "join a wireless network" mode.

    I tried this out and got 50 Mbps download speed right away. So I say rather than agonize over multiple configurations, JUST TRY IT.

    I hope that helps.

    ----------

    I have 2nd gen 802.11n Airport Express base station plugged in to modem via ethernet cable, with extended 1st gen 802.11n Airport Express in another room. This configuration has the primary base station in bridge mode and the receiving base station in "join a wireless network" mode.

    I tried this out and got 50 Mbps download speed right away. So I say rather than agonize over multiple configurations, JUST TRY IT.

    I hope that helps.
     

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