How to best create a strong network?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by BlakeBrattina, Jun 2, 2015.

  1. BlakeBrattina, Jun 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015

    BlakeBrattina macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 10, 2011
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    #1
    Hi all,

    I have a general question that I would like to lay out for any of the network guru's out there. I'm fairly technical, when it's something I can understand, but the Network side of things escapes me.

    I will be moving soon and want to find a way to provide my house with the strongest network possible. Thus, my question is what are the best practices for this? At this point my assumption is to have a strong router and a high-level ISP plan. My current plan is with ATT providing a 24Mbps with a simple Netgear N300 router.

    Items in use at the home are; iMac, MacBook Air, two iPads, MacBook, Xbox One, Apple TV, iPhone's.

    What I would like to achieve: My primary use for them at home are for streaming Netflix and other TV/Video, online gaming and also work as I will be working via home and jumping on video calls, etc. Ultimately, I would like to see better download/upload speeds (I can post a photo later of my Speedtest, but imagine 22/4)

    Would anyone have any recommendations how to make my abilities a little more fail-safe as I have been experience very slow connectivity when running multiple devices throughout the home. I would like to purchase and Airport Extreme soon but am not sure if that will suffice for strength.

    Sorry for the lengthy and loaded post, plenty of questions in this area.

    Thanks in advance -
     
  2. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

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    New England
    #2
    If robustness is desired, take the time/spend the money to get at least the iMac/Xbox/AppleTV on a wired network. I find my video conferencing can be limited if I'm not on my wired PC.

    B
     
  3. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #3
    I always put everything on the wired Ethernet when possible. The only things I have on wifi is the iPhone and the iPad. Everything else is wired which provides the best connection, least interference and the most throughput.
     
  4. BlakeBrattina thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Given that, it seems that the only other attempt or benefit would be to pay a bit more money for a faster speed, correct?
     
  5. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #5
    @BlakeBrattina Yes, if you can get faster connection speeds, it will aid in the overall performance of multiple devices using the network at once, with regards to the Internet traffic.
     
  6. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #6
    1) get a good plan from your provider.
    2) do not use a combo modem/router that some providers try to thrust upon you.
    3) if your provider is cable, make sure the modem is docsis 3 rated. I don't know what ATT U-verse uses.
    4) review smallnetbuilder routers to find out which one meets your needs (they review and rate them).
    5) for your WiFi, make sure each place your devices connect wirelessly, you have a good signal. If not, consider access points or a second router serving in "bridge mode" to create a 2 router wireless handshake. Let the first router assign IP via DHCP to the second router. If possible, use reserved addresses and possibly MAC filtered.

    I have found more often than not, routers and provider hardware can be problematic and it is wise to make sure you don't have faulty connections or limited connection. Use of decent ethernet cable is of value (they are cheap) and while CAT5 is often used for gig ethernet, better to go with CAT5e or CAT6.
     
  7. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    New England
    #7
    It also doesn't hurt to check your RF spectrum availability too. Are there already lots of WiFi networks in your area? These will be seen by your network as noise unless you can use a different channel or frequency band. (e.g. http://www.letstalk-tech.com/how-to-access-the-wifi-scanner-in-mac-os-x-yosemite/)

    That may be another case where you may need a network of several access points rather than one single wireless router for your home.

    I have a bunch of neighbors on one side of the house and had to add an Airport Extreme to cover that end of the house where my network isn't always the strongest signal there.

    B
     
  8. rhett7660 macrumors G4

    rhett7660

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    Jan 9, 2008
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    Sunny, Southern California
    #8
    Will you be able to run wire?

    I redid my house. I took a closet and turned it into my media hub. I had a network drop or two installed in every room and then I also setup wireless extenders. The last thing I am going to do is purchase a new dual band modem to spiff up the signal across the board.

    At my media center in the living room, since I have a lot of devices that connect to the internet, I installed two hardwired drops. One is directly to my remote interface and the other is to a gig switch that handles the rest of the devices.

    So far I have had no issues!!! (Knock on wood)
     
  9. BlakeBrattina thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Pittsburgh, PA
    #9
    Thank you for all of replies, everyone. Your time is much appreciated.To start from the top;

    - I'm not sure if the cable is docsis 3 at this point, I will check tonight.
    - I will also check into connectivity and how they are on signal strength, I am assuming that's why some use an Airport Express in some point of their home to connect certain devices?

    - I can run wire, if I want. As most know on these forums, wire = havoc. I hate running anything if I don't have to and prefer anything as clean as possible, so this is only going to be useful if necessary.

    Here's a snapshot of the speedtest that leaves much to be desired.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    Mar 26, 2013
    Location:
    Elkton, Maryland
    #10
    My tips would be to set the modem to bridge mode and use a reliable router. AT&T hardware sometimes can be a pain to get into Bridge Mode, so let me know if you need help with that! My personal recommendations are the Apple AirPort Extreme and the latest ASUS line of routers. There are also some Linksys routers which perform admirably. From there you would want to get a unmanaged switch which you can run Ethernet to any device possible.
     
  11. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    Virginia
    #11
    If done correctly wire can be very simple and neat. Every device in my house that sits in a single location is hard wired. The only things that use wireless are our iDevices. I'm lucky to have a single story house with an unfinished basement so running wire is very easy.

    Just did a quick count and I have 15 devices connected via Cat 6 cable. None of the cables are visible from normal viewing angles.
     
  12. HDFan macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    #12
    If you upgrade to 802.11 ac wireless I think you'll see a big improvement. With two old airport extremes, one 3 TB Time capsule downstairs and one airport extreme upstairs extending the same network, I was getting some buffering problems in Plex Media server running on my Roku box when set to the 20 Mbps option. Data rates were running from about 26 Mbps down to about 12 Mbps.

    Some of my devices upstairs don't support 802.11ac and therefore I need to connect them to the airport ethernet ports.

    After replacing the older airports with the 2013 Apple Airport Extremes which support 802.11ac I saw a dramatic improvement in results as shown here with the Roku box speediest results.

    The first two results for some reason are always slow. It's between 2 and 8 times faster. No buffering issues at all now in Plex.

    I purchased them from the Apple refurbished site and saved $170 off the list price for the two airports.
     

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  13. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

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    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Finger Lakes Region
    #13
    If you want a strong home network then like others have told you is use Ethernet when possible. Then get yourself a modern AC dual Router for your wireless! Plus make sure your new wireless router has Gigabit since inside it and use modern CAT 6 Ethernet cable (like one's from Monoprice's CAT 6 cable).
     
  14. UKgaryb macrumors regular

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    Dec 13, 2013
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #14
    I'd highly recommend something like the following (which I have):

    Virgin Media Cable: 152mbps -- Cable Modem:
    Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite (around £70/$90) -- you will need to learn a bit but once it's up and running nothing compares.
    Separate Wifi Access Points (I use Airport Extreme AC's x3 of them).

    The beauty of this setup is if you run Cat5 your Cable Modem + Router can be in one place and then Access Points positioned for maximum coverage.

    I actually have this setup in 2 houses my parents, and my house with a site to site vpn. It's been running for around 200days without a reboot (was due to new firmware for the Edgerouters)
     
  15. blacka4 macrumors 6502

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    Pittsburgh
    #15
    i'm in the middle of doing this myself. I wired with cat5e..its what I had laying around. its good for GigE so thats what I am going to use. Everything will be wired my 2 apple tvs media server and other items that need to be hard wired will be. 2 or 3 wireless ac access points for my iDevices
     
  16. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #16
    I'm with glennthompson.

    A solid wired CAT6 setup is the very antithesis of "havoc." Havoc is when the wireless won't work, or is slow, or doesn't have the range you want, or all of the above. I've had two houses where the walls were open (for renovation) and in both those houses I was able to make a wiring closet (enormously helpful) with a patch panel, and have ethernet drops into every room. I also have wireless, of course.

    It's looking as though I need to extend the wireless out the back. There's already an ethernet drop at the back wall of the house. It's going to be trivially easy to install an Express there. Just nothing to it. When I wired the house I'm in now, I had no idea that, 4 years later, I'd be installing HT in a large open room. When I did, connectivity for the TV and the receiver was trivially easy. The drops were already there.
     
  17. durruti macrumors regular

    durruti

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    Mar 26, 2004
    Location:
    Jersey
    #17
    How do you run wire through walls and floors? I could google it, but I'm not.

    I'd like to know.
     
  18. blacka4 macrumors 6502

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    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    #18
    With fiberglass poles that are about 3 feet long that screw together. Sometimes you can't help it but cut holes in the walls to run wire and patch it up. Making holes where you don't need them and patching sucks balls but sometimes it's what you gotta do.
     
  19. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #19
    It depends on what kinds of walls, floors, and ceilings you have. If work's being done, and the walls or ceilings are open, it's very easy. Otherwise, it's more (sometimes much more) difficult. You need a few special tools, such as long drills. You can sometime follow plumbing routes, sometimes the routing of electrical wires. If you don't mind new moldings on your walls and baseboards you don't have to go into the walls (kind of ugly, but does work). Sometimes it's possible to pull out baseboards just far enough to get wire in behind them. At least once, I went down into the cellar from behind a baseboard, then out through a cellar window, up the outside, into the attic, and dropped down into a room.

    There's almost always a way to do it. I've been snaking wires around for about 30 years, always in old houses, so I've learned a lot of tricks. A professional electrician or cable installer knows all the tricks I know, and more.

    There's no doubt that wireless is easier, though. No doubt at all.
     
  20. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #20
    Unfinished basements make wiring easy as well as attics.
     
  21. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #21
    A real-world example. Right now I'm combining and synching up hundreds of RAW images from a trip I took. They are on my rMBP, which is on wireless-n (for some reason I don't understand, it and the Time Capsule don't get along on wireless-ac). I needed 13 GB of them on my iMac (wired). I set up the transfer using the TC . . . "about an hour."

    Nope. Didn't want to wait. Got the ethernet dongle, took the rMBP to the next room, plugged it in, 3 or 4 minutes, done.
     
  22. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    Apr 27, 2011
    Location:
    Virginia
    #22
    My old house was a 2 story with unfinished basement. To make one cable run I went from the closet in one room up to the attic, down through another closet, into the closet below that one, into the basement, across the basement and up into the wall where I installed a jack. Nothing visible and it worked great.

    My wife used to work for a network services company and the cable installers would give her left over cable. Not enough in the box for most installation jobs but fine for a house. I've also found good deals on eBay for cable - some were reels that had been dropped and the reel was cracked. One was a 1000' reel of external shielded cable for about $40.
     
  23. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    Mar 26, 2013
    Location:
    Elkton, Maryland
    #23
    There are some sweet deals to be had on old spools of cable from the local companies. The problem gets annoying when there isn't enough left for one run and then you have to start connecting cables together and it gets messy.
     
  24. m11rphy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    #24
    Hey Gary

    Can you give me some details, I have been cosider a simular set up using the Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite and Ubiquiti wireless access point. This would be on a BT infinity connection.

    How easy is the Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite to set up ?

    Am I right in say that the Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite doesnt creat the wireless network ?
     
  25. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    Location:
    Elkton, Maryland
    #25
    The EdgeRouter Lite does not put out any wireless network. That is what the access points do. In terms of setup, I do not find it particularly difficult, but there are a lot of options that most will never use.
     

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