Need opinions on best network setup

Matt2

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Jul 28, 2001
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Ok, I am gonna be moving into my apartment for college on July 19 and I need to plan out how I am gonna setup this network.

As it's planned now, we are going to have COX cable internet service.

There are going to be 2 PCs, maybe three and 2 laptops.

What is the best networking solution? Router? The only problem with that is that there is going to be a space issue and I dont think the computers will be setup next to eachother.

How about a wireless network? How is performance going to be compared to a wired network solution?

Also, first year college students, so it cant be too pricey.

Thanks for the input.
 

kehi

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Sep 18, 2000
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For that setup yor definately need a router. Wired or Wireless is just a matter of choice and proximity of the computers to each other. If you do not want cables strung everywhere (if computers are in diff. rooms) you can go wireless. As far as performance goes the wireless will be no different from wired when using the internet because you cable connection will be far slower than the wireless adapters. On an internal lan the wireless will be slower as it usually is maxed out at 11mbps as the wired connections can go 100mbps if 10/100 nics are installed in each machine.


Bottom line: If you are going to transfering many files between the computers I would recommend going with the wired connection, if not and you are looking for a clean apperance go with the wireless. Setup on the wireless will be a little tougher than wired but it is not that big of a deal. Also, with wireless you need to incorporate security into the network by using WEP encryption.

 

Drakkon

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Aug 14, 2001
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if you dont mind the look of wires running everywhere (since your in an apt assuming u dont want to punch holes in wall) go the wired route. If you want to save money probobly have to go this route as well :p
If you want a cleaner look and more expandablility go wireless. 802.11B has been pretty good to me. Havent noticed that much of a difference in browsing speed. If its in an apt complex though jsut make sure your not overlapping signals and that nobody can get on yours ;)
If your concerned about security a router would be in order...if u have a PC thats going to act as the "server" though may want to just use that and firewall it if need be and distribute the connection from there even through a hub or a switch...
 

Matt2

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Jul 28, 2001
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ok. thanks for the input. This is bigger and more complex than any network I ahve ever set up... right now I am on a 2 computer home network connected by crossover cable...

Ok, let's assume I am gonna go wireless. What do I need? Wireless router and wireless network cards for the PCs and laptops.

What are good brands for this hardware? How much is this gonna run me, assuming that I buy the router and a wireless card for one PC and a laptop?
 

JackMDS

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Oct 25, 1999
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Wireless is very cool and not expensive any more, For Internet surfing it is just as good as Wired. For every thing else, you should consider carefully before you go Wireless.

Link: Wireless What Should I Get?
 

Matt2

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Jul 28, 2001
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Originally posted by: JackMDS
Wireless is very cool and not expensive any more, For Internet surfing it is just as good as Wired. For every thing else, you should consider carefully before you go Wireless.

Link: Wireless What Should I Get?

What about internet gaming???? I would be downloading relatively large files.

Am I correct in assuming that the only time the wireless LAN would be a bottleneck is when transferring files from computer to computer?

if the cable internet were 1.5mbps would I still get ~150kb/s downloads assuming I am the only computer on the net at the moment?
 

kehi

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Sep 18, 2000
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What about internet gaming???? I would be downloading relatively large files.

Am I correct in assuming that the only time the wireless LAN would be a bottleneck is when transferring files from computer to computer?

if the cable internet were 1.5mbps would I still get ~150kb/s downloads assuming I am the only computer on the net at the moment?



1. Internet gaming will be just fine. Download size should not matter.

2. You are correct in syaing that

3. Yes, that is correct


 

owensdj

Golden Member
Jul 14, 2000
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Matt2, yes. Wireless networking is far faster than even broadband Internet, so you'd still get your maximum download speed.

Remember that you can also go with a mix of wired and wireless networking. If you have some PCs that are going to stay near the router, you can save some money on the network card and get 100Mbs speed by using wired network cards for them. Most wireless routers have 4 wired network ports.
 

Matt2

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Jul 28, 2001
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Originally posted by: owensdj
Matt2, yes. Wireless networking is far faster than even broadband Internet, so you'd still get your maximum download speed.

Remember that you can also go with a mix of wired and wireless networking. If you have some PCs that are going to stay near the router, you can save some money on the network card and get 100Mbs speed by using wired network cards for them. Most wireless routers have 4 wired network ports.

Thanks, that was my next question.

Ok, so I need a wireless router and as many wireless cards as I have computers.

How does the connection work?

I am assuming it goes wall---->cable modem---->router---->Wireless Cards.... correct?

How important is location? ANywhere u go in the apartment I wont be more than ~150 ft away from the router. So I was thinking that the router could be setup in my room and my PC could be wired to it and then the rest of the machines that will be accessing the router will have wireless cards. Or should I have the router more centrally located and have all machines on wireless cards?

 

Matt2

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Jul 28, 2001
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Is the D-Link DL-604 Wireless router what I am looking for? Is this a good one?

$48 + free shipping + $10 mail-in rebate.

Newegg
 

kehi

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Sep 18, 2000
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No, that router is not a wireless router. It is wired only. You need something like This
 

Matt2

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Jul 28, 2001
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Originally posted by: kehi
No, that router is not a wireless router. It is wired only. You need something like This

Sorry, I was looking at the DL-614+ I saw at best Buy and I thought the 604 was that model, sorry! Thanks for the link.

If all devices are 802.11b I should have no problem with using different brand wireless cards right?

What about getting an 802.11g wireless router, it's backwards compatible to 802.11b right? Is this worth it?
 

stash

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Jun 22, 2000
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I just picked up the Linksys WRT54G wireless router. I upgraded my computer with a 802.11g card and have two other machines in the house with 802.11b cards. I applied the firmware update that just came out for the router. And I am very very pleased with the performance of this router. The speeds on my main box (802.11g) are fantastic. I can now transfer large files (linux isos, movie trailers, etc) down to my file server in the basement very quickly. And of course, the 802.11b clients continue to work well.

I am using this router for wireless functions only, so I can't comment on the NAT, port fowarding, DMZ, etc features. I just plug the router into a switch that is connected to my Astaro Linux firewall, which is my gateway to the Internet.

But yes, I would highly recommend the linksys .g router...just make sure you upgrade the firmware.
 

Matt2

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Jul 28, 2001
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So what do u think guys? Is 802.11g worth the extra money? PCI cards for 802.11g are about the same price as 802.11b, but the router and notebook cards are substantially more $ for 802.11g.

Mostly the files that are gonna be swapped around are music and moderate sized movie files.

Worth the extra money or is 802.11b sufficient for college kids on a budget?
 

Matt2

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Jul 28, 2001
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OK this is what I came up with:

802.11g setup:

D-Link DI-624 AirPlus Xtreme G High-Speed 2.4GHz Wireless Router

2x LINKSYS WMP54G WIRLESS G PCI ADAPTER 54MPBS 2.4GHZ draft 802.11G

LINKSYS WPC54G WIRELESS G 54MBPS PC CARD draft 802.11G

$279 shipped

Those are for the other two PCs on the network and my laptop. I was planning on connecting the third PC (mine) to the router via cable to save money.

Sound good?

OR-

802.11b setup:

Netgear MR814NA Cable / DSL 2.4GHZ Wireless Router with 4 Port 10/100 Switch

2x Linksys WUSB12 Wireless Compact USB Adapter 11Mbps 802.11b

D-Link DWL-650+ AirPlus Enhanced 2.4GHz Wireless CardBus Adapter

$230.90 shipped

Again, the third PC (mine) would be wired to the router.

What do u guys think? Seems hard for me to justify 802.11b when 802.11g is only $50 more.

Thanks for the input!
 

owensdj

Golden Member
Jul 14, 2000
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Matt2, yep that's the correct way to connect it all. You plug your cable into the cable modem, plug your cable modem into your router, and plug your wired networked computers into your router. The wireless computers just need to be within range of the wireless router.

Since everthing will be within 150 feet of the router, it probably doesn't matter where you place it.

Since everthing will be in a small area, 802.11g might be a good way to go. It doesn't have the range of 802.11b, but that's not a disadvantage in your situation. The extra speed of 802.11g over 802.11b won't speed up your broadband Internet sharing speed, but it will speed up file transfers between your computers. For only $50 more, I'd definately go with 802.11g for your apartment.
 

stash

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Jun 22, 2000
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Range shouldn't be a problem, since 802.11g has range comparable to 802.11b. 802.11a is the wireless standard with the short range.
 

Matt2

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Jul 28, 2001
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Alright, thanks for all the input, I decided to go with the 802.11g network.

How hard is it to setup a wireless network, like I said I am a newbie at this. The only network I ahve ever worked with is my home network which only has 2 computers :eek:

Also, what about security? Does the router have a firewall that HAS to be enabled? I'd rather not have a firewall enabled if I dont have to.

One more question on security- IS there anyway to keep other people off of my wireless network and leeching off my broadband? Like say the next door neighbors or the neighbors above me or below me?
 

stash

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Jun 22, 2000
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Wireless networks are more tricky to set up than wired networks, but if you read the directions that come with your router, you shouldn't have any problems.

The router does not have a firewall per se, but it uses NAT to hide all the computers on your LAN from the Internet. NAT is not technically a firewalling device, but it does a good job of protecting the LAN computers from most things. The routers also come with port forwarding abilities, so if you run a web server, you can forward all requests to port 80 (or whatever port) to your Internet IP to the IP of the computer on your LAN running the server. Most routers also allow for one machine to be in a DMZ, which means it is fully exposed to the Internet.

Wireless security is not the greatest, but there are steps you can take to make it secure to most "casual" hackers (like the neighbors). First would be to change the default SSID to something else. I also turn off SSID broadcasting, which stops most leechers. You will also want to turn on WEP and change your WEP keys every so often. Finally, you should just MAC filtering, and only allow the MAC addresses of your wireless clients to access the router.

All of these security measures can be broken...SSIDs can be found even if broadcasting is off, WEP can be cracked, MAC addresses can be spoofed. But if you do all of these things, you will discourage most intruders. It's similar to home security. Alarm systems can be disabled, outside lights can be turned off, and locks can be broken, but if your house has enough security measures in place, most burglars will find an easier target.
 

Matt2

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Jul 28, 2001
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thanks for the info, that's really what I was afraid of, leechers. But I highly doubt that someone would go through that much trouble, to leech off my broadband.