Wifi Performance Issues

Networking, connecting to the internet, wi-fi and home entertainment
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BobH
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Wifi Performance Issues

Post by BobH »

For weeks now - maybe months - I've been having problems with my online system performance. I've replaced an older wifi router with a new NetGear N750 WRND4300. I am still experiencing periods when service slows down and/or drops out - as discovered by looking at the bars at the bottom right of my screen. I really need to understand more about network troubleshooting in order to find a candidate donkey which to pin the tail.

For months on end, the signal strength bars were maxed out with all 5 bars standing tall. Now, that rarely happens. Instead, I see 3 bars lit and very often see the dreaded yellow spot meaning that I've lost connectivity. As I'm typing this, the bars have gone from 4 to 2 to 3 and back to 4. What, exactly, is being measured and reported by these bars? It is my understanding that they represent signal strength detected by my wifi network adaptor (bars just shot up to 5 then dropped to 3). Is that not the case? I am having trouble breaking through the fog of frustration to find credible information.

I've also noticed that my Internet connection response times vary from very good to the same as they were on a 1200 BAUD dial-up modem. (connection just dropped and the little blue sphere is doing its thing whoops. back to 3 bars). This makes me want to blame my ISP (Time Warner Cable) but I want to have solid, reliable information before I lodge any complaint.

I have other system resource monitor information that I don't understand, but I'll leave that for a future post. For now, I'd just like to know more about what the connectivity bars really mean and what might be causing such wide swings. Both my cable modem and my wifi router have recently been replaced and I've had a service technician check the physical cabling without finding any problems.
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StuartR
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Re: Wifi Performance Issues

Post by StuartR »

There are a number of things that could impact your WiFi performance.
  • Neighbouring WiFi routers using the same (or adjacent) channels
  • DECT phones Bluetooth devices or any other wireless device that uses the same 2.4GHz frequency as 802.11b/g/n
  • Microwave ovens, televisions or other electrical devices that create electrical noise.
The first thing to check is what else is using the WiFi channels that you are using. What device are you using to connect to the WiFi?
  • If it's a Windows PC then install inSSIDer
  • If it's an Android phone or tablet then install Wifi Analyser
  • I have no idea what tools are used on IOS devices
Each of these tools will enable you to see what channels are in use and how strong each signal is.
StuartR


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Rudi
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Re: Wifi Performance Issues

Post by Rudi »

StuartR wrote: * I have no idea what tools are used on IOS devices
There are plenty WiFi apps in the apps store to check signal strength, available connections and connection details, Fing being one of them, but still no apps to check channel info?!

Bob,
According to this webpage, the bars only give half the story. It illustrates the signal strength from the router, but it does not indicate the "noise" or interferance from other devices. So for example, you might have a high signal strength (5 bars) but due to a lot of noise, your connection might be intermittent and unreliable. See the article for additional details on Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) and software to test this. I agree with Stuart in that you might be experiencing a lot of interference from other electronic devices operating on the same channel as your router. Have you experimented with other channels? If your router is on auto channel, you may want to test switching to channel 1, 6 or 11 and testing if you get more stable connection. In addition, check for and try eliminate other devices like wireless phones and the sort in the immediate vicinity of your router.

PS: I had my home router set on auto channel select and had a lot of issues with variable upload and download speeds (though my wifi bars were ALWAYS at 5 bars in the sys tray). I downloaded WiFiInfoView (free) and looked at the channels that other routers were using, and found that a few neighbours routers were occupying channel 1 and 6. I put my router on channel 11 and have being enjoying MUCH more stable upload/download speeds. I have ensured that my router is located in a place away from electrical devices, phones and the microwave to. :smile:

I hope you find the culprit to your issues and that this frustration is quickly resolved...
Keep us informed.
Regards,
Rudi

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BobH
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Re: Wifi Performance Issues

Post by BobH »

As a follow up:

I purchased inSSIDer 4 and inSSIDer wifi helper and ran them. My router was broadcasting on channel 1 and was using the same bandwidth as my neighbor's router. InSSIDer 4 suggested I change to channel 11 (as did Rudi) which I did. On running inSSIDer thereafter it showed me running on 11 but suggested I change to 6, which I did, and now it says that 11 would be better. I have no idea why it is changing its suggestion each time, but I'm on channel 6 now and the connection and signal strength issues have gone away for the most part.

When I first ran wifi helper, it said that I had insufficient throughput performance but didn't offer any indication why that was the case. Now that I'm running on channel 6, it says that the signal is good for the combination of Internet, audio, and video but inadequate for HD video, again with no indication of where problems might exist.
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Rudi
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Re: Wifi Performance Issues

Post by Rudi »

Hi Bob,

Glad to hear its a bit improved.

Now that you have changed channels, how does the rest of your setup look like?
Is your router in a central location?
How far from the router are you?
What mode are you using? (Mixed b/g/n, or just n). If possible try use only n.
Do you have any QoS settings in place to improve your bandwidth?
Regards,
Rudi

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BobH
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Re: Wifi Performance Issues

Post by BobH »

Howdy, Rudi!

Yes, my router is in a good location. No receivers are more than 50 feet away except when my wife takes her iPad or iPhone to the back yard (rear garden for the Brits); even then, the distance is probably ~ 100 feet. My desktop is about 35-40 feet from the router.

I could find no way to set my NetGear WNDR 4300 to only 802.11.n. My guess is that the defaults have full backward compatibility. So far I've found no way to display this setting if it exists.

I tinkered with QoS settings a bit today. I set my wifi network adapter to the "highest" setting and set the wifi printer to "Low" and the wife's iPad to "Highest." It's too early to see if those changes make any difference.

I'll have research and record the MAC addresses of all devices that can get on the network and set the priorities for each of them. That is on the 2doo list.

Thanks for the help. At least for today, Internet service and wife response times are back to their old norms.
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Rudi
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Re: Wifi Performance Issues

Post by Rudi »

BobH wrote:I could find no way to set my NetGear WNDR 4300 to only 802.11.n. My guess is that the defaults have full backward compatibility. So far I've found no way to display this setting if it exists.
Hi Bob,

I found that the Netgear firmware does not provide only N as a setting. The only way you can operate in 802.11n ‘Greenfield’ mode is if there are no other B/G networks within range. You may have already viewed and adapted these settings (without realizing it) as it is not very clearly marked if you are looking for the specific protocols. Anyways, this is what it looks like, and the appropriate changes the options present.

Question on Netgear Forum: I only want N, how do I turn off B & G?
Quick answer: You will NOT able to just use N only...N setting will do ALL 802.11 protocols.
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Regards,
Rudi

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BobH
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Re: Wifi Performance Issues

Post by BobH »

Thanks, Rudi!

I had visited those wireless settings and left the mode settings at their default - 130 Mbps. I think I'll leave QoS as I now have it. I removed most of the defaults because I don't use those applications but I did set laptop, desktop and iPad settings on "Highest."

I'll attack MAC Address filtering later. I found the settings but haven't yet decided whether or not to set up filtering. I'm afraid that I'll get a new device and forget to set it up. Did I mention that I hide my own Easter Eggs?
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jstevens
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Re: Wifi Performance Issues

Post by jstevens »

Bob,

Did you ever get your connectivity ironed out?

I also have Time Warner Cable as my ISP. One thing they did over the last year is improve the infrastructure to provide 50MBPS download speeds (at no additional cost to subscribers). They rolled it out Nation wide on a regional basis and didn't communicate it well enough that the old cable modems would not handle the new download speed so I was encountering frequent disconnects as well. Upon purchasing a new cable modem I was back in business.

Regards,
John
Regards,
John

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BobH
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Re: Wifi Performance Issues

Post by BobH »

Thanks for the info, John.

It seems that my connections are not dropping out as frequently as they were doing. I'll definitely look into the modem.
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viking33
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Re: Wifi Performance Issues

Post by viking33 »

jstevens wrote:Bob,

Did you ever get your connectivity ironed out?

I also have Time Warner Cable as my ISP. One thing they did over the last year is improve the infrastructure to provide 50MBPS download speeds (at no additional cost to subscribers). They rolled it out Nation wide on a regional basis and didn't communicate it well enough that the old cable modems would not handle the new download speed so I was encountering frequent disconnects as well. Upon purchasing a new cable modem I was back in business.

Regards,
John
So your ISP changed the DL capabilities at no cost, except you had to buy a new modem? Thanks a lot, guys!
I think if the people at Verizon upgraded my speed, I would thank them profusely, then ask when their shipment of my FREE modem would arrive. :thankyou: :evilgrin:
BOB
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