Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed Network
I was looking at the Wireless Options in the new Airport Utility to configure my Airport Extreme router. I noticed you could reduce the power output of the wireless. Since I have the router in my living room it sounded very appealing, especially since I have a new baby in the flat. I tried reducing it to 25%, but the signal was barely strong enough to work in the kitchen, which affected performance.

I recently followed the tips in this article to see if they would help at all. Changing the channel and implementing MAC filtering means I can now set my AirPort Extreme at 10% power, and I still get full strength signal everywhere in the flat. I also have fewer incidents where I have to manually rejoin my wireless router.

[robg adds: You might also want to set your AirPort up as a closed network -- it won't be visible to the casual user who happens to be located nearby, though this won't stop dedicated hackers from finding it. Note that you may have some devices that won't work with a closed network (I had an old audio appliance that simply failed to connect if the network was closed).]
    •    
  • Currently 2.80 / 5
  You rated: 1 / 5 (5 votes cast)
 
[28,971 views]  

Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed | 13 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed
Authored by: metiure on Jun 05, '07 01:03:52PM

What exactly is a closed network? Thanks for any info on this topic, I may be interested.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed
Authored by: noah on Jun 05, '07 04:39:42PM

A "closed" network simply means the SSID isn't repeatedly broadcasted. That and $2.50 might get you a cup of coffee.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed
Authored by: Craigriver on Jun 05, '07 04:44:16PM

I understand a closed network to be one with out a SSID identifier being broadcast. To make it a closed network, you need to remove your SSID name. SSID is broadcast to make it easier to find and identify a wireless signal. It is the name that is assigned to the wireless base station.

I've not disabled mine, because I'm not convinced it will keep those who are truly bent on hacking my wireless signal.

I've also been told that it doesn't provide complete anonymity, but it makes the broadcast a little less visible.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed
Authored by: noah on Jun 05, '07 04:44:07PM
Because you have a baby in the flat you reduced the transmission rate of your Airport Base Station? What published, reputable scientific evidence do you have that suggests wifi is somehow bad for you?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed
Authored by: conundrum on Jun 05, '07 08:15:04PM

He can use whatever precautions that he sees fit. You probably think smoking is not hazardous to your health.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed
Authored by: frgough on Jun 06, '07 07:23:33AM

Cut the guy some slack; it's a safe bet that you yourself have fallen to non-scientific hysteria in one of the following subjects: environmentalism, nuclear power, global warming.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed, nearly by accident
Authored by: maggard on Jun 05, '07 10:52:22PM

The “article” is trash.

It’s got a few good points, but it’s also hopelessly wide of the mark on others.

Yes, WEP security is cooked, has been for years, see “Airsnort”. All WEP does is keep out the clueless. Any goober can download software that’ll automagically crack it like it’s ROT13 (Google that if you don’t know the reference.) A coupla minutes and you’re hotspot-city.

The suggestion to find an uncongested channel–d’uh! As is not to block transmissions with walls, books, metals, masonry, water, and other stuff that blocks radio waves, again, d’uh!. Next they’ll suggest to plug-it-in (oooh, never woulda thought of that!)!

What the article’s author didn’t know about was other devices that transmit in the same frequencies and cause interference. Like microwave ovens. 2.4 GHz phones (non-DECT). Many wireless cameras and security devices, including baby monitors. Bluetooth. Yep–I’ve seen a single wonky Bluetooth adapter jam every WiFi device in a small office building. So, turn it all off if you’re not needing it.

For what to tune to, in North America we’ve got channels 1-11 for use in the ISM band at 2.4 GHz. However 1, 6, and 11 are the primary ones, the the rest just interfere/get-interference from those. But for our flat-living limey mate he’s got 1-13, and in Japan it’s 1-14 (check the regulations for your nation, some exceptions may apply).

But Multicast–someone didn’t read their help files. Multicast isn’t about running 802.11a/b/g/n simultaneously, it’s about allowing packets to go across the entire network, kinda likes, oh, say, Rendezvous! Yep, no multicast and suddenly can’t find shared iTunes, AppleTV, mebbe your printer, etc. Big wrong hint there.

What the article is confusing MAC filtering with is isolation, keeping traffic going in & out but not across the network, sorta like making everyone dial direct instead of allowing party lines. Isolation is great in an internet cafe–no sneakily checking out the other folk’s machines. But in a home or office network that’s exactly how we find servers, printers, and other shared resources; a good thing!

Back to MAC filtering. A “MAC address” is Media Access Control, a number burnt into every Ethernet devices’ firmware (nothing to do with Macintosh computers.) Filtering it on a WiFi router just means that there’s a list of MAC addresses that are allowed to connect, or not connect, or a list for each.

Thus MAC filtering is a primitive way of managing who can do what, but it’s trivially defeatable. Again, any goober in the area can listen in to your router’s broadcasts, pick up what MAC addresses are marked as good, and spoof them. Again, sans skills, just download the right automated software and good to go in 30 seconds.

So MAC filtering has nothing to do with traffic, just a feel-good/doesn’t-work/waste-of-time/false-sense-of-security thing old-wives-tale. Oh, same with “hiding” your SSID, the name your router broadcasts. Yeah, broadcasting “I’m not here”, “I’m not here”, “I’m not here” is sooo much more secure then simply sending out “Wilton’s Router”.

Feh. What next? Write on your CDs with a green marker to make ‘em sound better? A nickel bit of foil that suddenly improves your cellphone signal (because the manufacturer wouldn’t a put it on themselves if it worked)?

What can you do to improve your signal?

Your stock WiFi antenna is omnidirectional; that means it is broadcasting in a big flat pancake pattern, slightly umbrella-ish. So if everything your router connects to is in one direction then all of that other 300-some degrees of energy is wasted, and just as bad the signal from anything in those directions is a distraction. So get a directional antenna, or invest 5 minutes and a pie tin in making a reflector for your router (astonishing results!)

If you work in the round then invest US$20+ and shop online for a better omnidrectional antenna. Plug one of these into your router and suddenly you get signal down the block.

Then there’s the up-your-power. This won’t work on any Apple routers, but for ones based on Broadcom chipsets (like many Linksys & Buffalo models) you can increase the transmitter power significantly. Of course louder doesn’t always improve things, after some point you’re just amplifying the noise in these cheap little systems. It’s just like turning speaker all the way up to 11, more sound but you can’t make out the lyrics better, indeed it gets worse. But below that cutoff yes, things can get better.

Lastly, turning down your router is a good thing. It saves power. Less heat. Your device will likely last longer. You’ll be a good neighbor. Your security will improve–the radius of casual interception goes down by the square. But anything to do with anyone’s health? No, the exact same physics that makes this all work also sez the BBC transmitters have more effect then any WiFi router in the room, and I’m speaking for those who live far far away from Britain’s radio towers.

(For those shrilly crying “but just in case!” keep in mind that all sorts of radiation is sleeting through us every second–and the sort and energy level used by a WiFi router is trivial compared to any of that. You get more radiation from your car’s electrical system then from sitting next to your router.)

I enjoy Mac OS X hints, but please, stick to those, not bogus WiFi router tips. For those wanting more information, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wifi is decent.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed, nearly by accident
Authored by: wilton on Jun 06, '07 02:42:52PM

You didn't really read the 'article' did you ?

I never implied MAC was mac/pc, I know perfectly well what it is. By filtering it you get less automated traffic trying to authenticate with your router. You know that windows by default checks the nearby routers every 2 minutes. This is not necessarily malicious, but better to keep it off the network. You just need to add the MAC id once for each bit of wifi equipment.

I specifically said MAC filtering is NOT for improved security.

Regarding choosing an uncongested network, this is something that 90% of users have no clue about. It is worthwhile at least raising awareness if this.

The multicast rate I was talking about has nothing to do with stopping rendevouz or streaming. This is concerning the router gradually decreasing the wifi speed to get a reliable signal. If you have a good signal, you can increase the lower limit.

Perhaps you should read what was said, and not what you think the article said.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed, nearly by accident
Authored by: nick12345678910 on Mar 04, '09 11:24:20PM

hey guys. i have a mac, with wireless, connected to an airport, which is connected to my broadband modem....how do i improve my internet speed?????



[ Reply to This | # ]
What is with the negativity?
Authored by: garneaum on Jun 07, '07 05:34:23AM

More and more I am seeing people getting flamed on this web site. What is with all the road rage? Look, if you haven't got something constructive to say, and in a nice way, then let it go!

No one says you HAVE to comment on articles. Go complain somewhere else. If something is bogus, post a reply that explains why it's bogus, but leave out the finger pointing and frustration.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed
Authored by: zp on Jun 07, '07 09:04:26AM
I recently followed the tips in this article to see if they would help at all.
Did you not write that very same article? Anyway, KisMAC is a better tool to find out neighbouring networks.
ZP

---
--
Josť P. S. do Amaral

We only can learn from our mistakes.
--K. Popper

[ Reply to This | # ]

Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed
Authored by: tiptongrange on Jun 08, '07 05:53:38AM

I have few questions using this hint with a Linksys WRT54G router.
First, how can you change the power output on the Linksys router?
Second, how do you set it to multicast?
Third, some computers let you type a word or phrase then auto-generates a long password from that phrase--if you use a simple word to generate this, does this defeat the purpose of a secure password?
And fourth, once you've generated a long password, do you have to copy and paste it to an external drive, then switch the drive to another computer and copy and paste again in order to connect additional computers to the network?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed
Authored by: nick12345678910 on Mar 04, '09 11:35:47PM

i have a mac with wireless internet from an airport which is connected to my broadband modem...how do i make my connection faster????????



[ Reply to This | # ]