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I've got a small home network, 3 PCs plus a laptop or two when the relatives come to visit, connected to a single cable internet connection. Now, as soon as everyone starts using the 'net the performance starts to suffer and if the load is heavy enough nobody can get anything done and everyone complains. At one point it was so bad that only one of us could use it at a time. I was researching possible solutions to this problem and I heard that internet cafes that utilize 2 internet connections, possibly from different providers, and have some sort of router that allows them to split the traffic between the both of them, with online games going through one and web traffic going through another. Is this possible? What is the technical term for it, and can/should it be applied to a home network setup or is there another solution to this problem?

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What kind of things are you all doing that brings the network down to a crawl? Unless you are all streaming videos from Youtube, or you're using dial-up, you shouldn't get to the stage where the internet is unusable. –  Connor W Jan 30 '11 at 12:10
Yeah, streaming from YouTube, online gaming + general web surfing and downloading make up most of what we do. Our ISP reports that our speed will fluctuate between 256 kbps and 1 Mbps throughout the day. I'd go with someone else, but they're all that's available in this area. –  cornjuliox Jan 30 '11 at 12:15
Could you go to www.speedtest.net and run the broadband speed test? Click the 'Copy Direct Link' button and post the link here. It should give a more accurate result of your broadband speed than what you get from your ISP. –  Connor W Jan 30 '11 at 12:22
speedtest.net/result/1134311058.png <--here you go. –  cornjuliox Jan 30 '11 at 12:32
Five windows computers could have a lot of unwanted things calling home. I wouldn't expect to be able to be on youtube and games on a 1mbps service. –  tobylane Jan 30 '11 at 12:38

3 Answers 3

There are several possible solutions.

  1. Subscribe at your ISP to higher bandwidth - your bandwidth test results are very low.
  2. If the bandwidth should be sufficient, then get a better router (remember to convert bandwidth in Mbits to Mbytes by dividing by 8, although dividing by 10 is normally more accurate).
  3. If you still wish to combine two Internet connections, get a router that is capable of "Bandwidth Aggregation" or "Link aggregation".

For bandwidth requirements for youtube see :
How much bandwidth is required to play online YouTube videos ?

The article notes that to enjoy good HD viewing experience requires 1Mbps, while non-HD requires at least 513Kbps. Below these values, one may need to wait for the video to buffer .

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The thing is my ISP doesn't offer anything better than this, and to make matters worse, they're the only ones available aside from the local telco's ADSL packages, which are also piss-poor. Secondly, how would I determine if my bandwidth is sufficient for my needs? –  cornjuliox Jan 30 '11 at 12:43
Your bandwidth is so low that it is probably just enough for one youtube viewing. I think you have proved that it is not enough for 2 or 3. It could be that your router is also very slow on multiple connection, especially if supplied by that ISP you have. I suggest you first get a good router capable of Bandwidth Aggregation, and only then if needed invest in a second connection. Although at that bandwidth, supporting 3 concurrent high-speed users might require 3 internet connections. –  harrymc Jan 30 '11 at 14:38
1,3 Mbit's is not BAD. I surfed with 3 computers with this before. That was 5 years ago though :) –  sinni800 Jan 31 '11 at 11:33
@sinni800: With all 2-3 computers playing video ? –  harrymc Jan 31 '11 at 11:35
I don't know if there even WERE videos back then. They just popped up with youtube. (I know there were a lot before, youtube just made that stuff popular.) ... I think Youtube videos need about 500 kbit/s (theoretically, to play fluently), so 2 computers playing video should be fine... But three would kill it all. –  sinni800 Jan 31 '11 at 11:40

I think your best bet is to look for a router with a QoS (Quality of Service) feature.

This will prioritise traffic going through your network and make more bandwidth available for things like games and streaming Youtube, and reduce the bandwidth for things like Windows Updates, emails and other less important things.

It's not going to work miricles, your connection is what it is, but it will make better use of what's there. This will save you a lot of time from manually going to each computer and setting Windows Updates to happen later or disabling background programs, and it will work for every computer on your network.

A still better solution though would be to install a seperate internet connection for each computer, as another commenter said, although I dont imagine that is very practical.

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Did you use theCD that came with your router to set up IC sharing on your computer? I noticed that some CD's will let you configure the routre but it actualy sets up Internet connection sharing. You can tell this, if you have to keep one computer turned on to access the internet. If this is the cae, then you need to disable IC sharing and connect directly through the router. 1 MB is a lot for three computers just doing regular Internet stuff. Though not blazing, but enough that you should not see such a serious degradation in performance.

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