Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a home network with the following setup:

alt text

I know, I know. It's a pile of steaming crap. I'm a beginner! So I plead ignorant.

I stepped onto and asked for suggested improvements and I came up with this design:

alt text

I want to run it past you guys before I go out and buy a shiny-new switch and a ton of cat5 cord.

I want to maximize file transfer speeds between all my PCs and (if possible) my two laptops. I used Speed Test from this site to test my current transfer speed from SAMSON to TESSA and I got TESSA downloading from SAMSON as 5419.47KB/s and SAMSON downloading from TESSA as 6242.03KB/s.

What do you think? Is there anything else I can change to kick up my speed a bit?

share|improve this question

migrated from Sep 11 '10 at 5:18

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

I had a look at that speed test program you used. It does not appear to be suitable for testing the connection speed between two computers on a LAN, unless one is running a webserver (in which case it would be a specific HTTP test). I recommend you use iperf instead, which is the standard tool for this. – paradroid Sep 12 '10 at 14:03

Is your broadband modem actually doing routing and NAT as well, or is it just a modem that provides a connection for another router?

I ask because your original setup has the broadband modem connected to the WRT54G, which makes it look like the WRT54G is your border device, and the modem is just a modem. If that's the case, you won't be able to change that aspect of it, so your network will still have to be broadband modem -> WRT -> bigger switch.

Other than that, you should be able to saturate a 100MBit network pretty easily with CIFS or NFS traffic, so you should be seeing more like 10-12MB/sec transfers rather than the 5-6MB/sec transfer you're seeing right now. Your wireless connections will get much worse than that - I'd expect around 3-4MB/sec sustained if you're using 802.11G.

If you get a gige switch for the middle of your network, you'll do better than 100Mbit, but don't expect to get close to saturating gige. It's definitely possible, but you're just pretty unlikely to see it happen.

share|improve this answer

You'd also do well by replacing any onboard networking cards with dedicated PCI cards. For example the Intel 1000GT which goes for about € 30 around here (Holland). With two of these cards in my two primary computers, connected through a proper gigabit-switch, I can manage an average throughput of 110 MB/sec.

But if you put this network card in all of your computers, you'll definitely need a hefty Cisco switch.

Good luck!

share|improve this answer

First off, 3 dumb switches that are daisy chained is just a bad bad bad setup. You are asking for trouble and lots and lots of packet collisions. Having a central managed switch is FAR better solution and I highly recommend it. Never daisy chain anything but routers that are configured for just that (by way of static routes and such) or you'll just have problems when transferring large files across the network. Most networks are fine with 10/100 solutions. If need be, you can spend the money on a large gigabit switch, but they can be pricey. If you just need to pull and push files off of one computer from all the others, get a switch that has a gigabit port and run the server off the gigabit port with a gigabit network adapter, the rest of the machines only need to be 10/100 from the switch (this is a far cheaper solution if you are just in need of a file server). You should have: Modem(most likely in bridged mode) ---> Router(all dhcp/nat should be done here) ---> Switch(managed or unmanaged, but managed is best) ---> computers and access points (no dhcp/NAT on these access points) When choosing a switch, choose one with enough ports to handle the number of computers you will have connected.

Note that if you are planning on having a performance network, going with brands such as dlink, linksys, netgear, airlink and so on will probably not suffice. They work well for a basic home solution, but they are not by any means performance product lines. Look to brands like cisco, sonicwall, samsung, edgewater, netopia and adtran for higher grade routing solutions.

Also note: when you are testing your download and upload speeds, you'll only get accurate results if you are testing on the same network the speed test is on, so test from your ISPs website as it is probably located side by side with the DNS servers and will provide the best results.

share|improve this answer
Daisy-chaining switches, even unmanaged switches, is perfectly fine, and does not create collisions. Perhaps you were thinking of a hub. People successfully daisy-chain switches all the time in both home and corporate networks. In fact, in your suggested solution setup, he would most likely be daisy-chaining his main switch off of the typical integrated 4-port unmanaged switch in his home gateway router. – Spiff Sep 25 '10 at 3:43
Cheap switches generally have a cascade limit when daisy chaining, and while switches break up collision domains, you still add more unnecessarily when daisy chaining and add possible bottlenecks when you could just have one switch handle all the computers for a small network. Not all home routers have the built in switch, but most do. While this will typically work on most home networks, if you want a decent network for large data transfers and reliability, a $100 router will just fail constantly. I see it several times daily. – MaQleod Sep 25 '10 at 4:32
And for most of those $100 router failures that I see, they tend to constantly argue that their cheap router is fine and the $80,000 one on my end is broken. – MaQleod Sep 25 '10 at 4:34

Since you are considering changing network cable, it would be smart to go with Category 5e or even Category 6 cable. Category 5 cables are considered obsolete at the moment and you'll have problems with them should you ever consider upgrading network hardware to gigabit speeds.

share|improve this answer

Well, for one, you have a gigabit switch behind a 10/100 switch. That means anything coming into the gigabit switch is going to be max 100mbps. except the three nodes you have connected to it. Make the gigabit switch the center of your network.

share|improve this answer

You'll want to replace the router too as that's only 10/100. Additionally you'll be better served with the router between the modem and the switch with all devices attached to the switch.

I assume in this case your are attaching the laptops by Ethernet, if it's going to be wifi then you'll run into bottlenecks there even if your devices support N and you buy an N capable router.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .