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I have a group of five computers at one end of my home office and another group of four computers across the same room. All are hardwired on the same internal network. These cannot be consolidate or moved into one corner or closet. There just is not the space and it's just physically not possible.

There is one Internet router as provided by the local cable company. I have this connected to a LinkSys WRT54G2 broadband router. A Netgear DS108 8-port hub is connected the LinkSys. All computers either connect to the Netgear hub or to the LinkSys router. As of now, the WiFi from the LinkSys router is only ever used by my cell phone while at home.

This set up is annoying. At first I did not mind, but there are cables on the floor that I have to step over. These CAT5 cables connect one set of computers to the LinkSys or Netgear. I have to watch where visitors are walking or stepping to assure they don't trip.

How can I keep these computers on the same network and eliminate just those cables crossing the floor of my home office?

It seems easy to see my only option is to use some kind of wireless method, right?

Should I use WiFi NICs? Would this overwhelm the WiFi on the LinkSys?

(Although I did first search this site for similar questions, I could not readily find one. If you find one I missed, please share it's link.)

Thank you for any help.

Additional (01/27/2012 at 16:40:28 UTC)

This is a rented flat/apartment. I cannot pull up carpet, punch holes in walls, and there's no access to attic. Modifying the flat risks losing my 'security deposit'.

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migrated from Jan 27 '12 at 7:25

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that's a good idea!!! you can use pci WiFi nic's their configuration & installation is very simple. – user103373 Jan 27 '12 at 6:24
But at what point does the WiFi LinkSys router get overwhelmed? Three WiFi NICs? Six WiFi NICS? Or never? I was looking at USB WiFi NICs. I guess it's better to use PIC, huh? – Steve Jan 27 '12 at 6:33
"How can I keep these computers on the same network and eliminate just those cables crossing the floor of my home office?" - the easiest solution to that would be to sticky tape them to the ceiling surely – Flexo Jan 27 '12 at 11:38
Data transfer requirements are not stated. Anyway, get a switch for the 5 to plug into, then connect that to the router. The other four can either be wired to another switch and a bridge or just use WiFi NICs. Try and group your PCs that need to have the fastest file transfer rates on the same wired segment using the bridge & router for internet access mainly. – Chef Flambe Jan 27 '12 at 22:02
Staple the cables to the ceiling. – Daniel R Hicks Jan 27 '12 at 23:51

10 Answers 10

I would use powerline networking to link to a switch at the far end.

You can buy a pair of HomePlug units that plug into ordinary wall electric sockets. They will bridge the two ends of the room together without any cables lying on the floor.

Diagram of Homeplug network A combined homeplug adapater & ethernet switch

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I second this idea, Powerline is a lot faster in general than wifi and doesn't suffer from so many problems as wifi can, especially if your going to be streaming video over the connection. – Iain Simpson Jan 27 '12 at 9:27
-1 For all the difficulties I have seen using powerline networking in general. – Joshua Drake Jan 27 '12 at 16:13
I am hesitant about this idea. But, let me ask this. I know from experience, that one side of the room is on one circuit and the other side on a separate circuit. Does this work across separate electrical circuits? – Steve Jan 27 '12 at 16:57
Powerline is a poor choice. There's a reason it hasn't been adopted widely. – Chef Flambe Jan 27 '12 at 21:50
Sorry, I should have clarrified my objection. Security wise it's about the same as WiFi. My experience is through-put at distance is inconsistant at best. AC lines are giant antenna so if you're near a RF site then you'll get heaps of noise on your AC plus all the noise from other in building items, and that slows things down. The claims for 100-1000Mbps are done on super clean 60Hz circuits, so what you get will vary alot. I had a commercial grade system running for tests in a buisness environment and the max distance I could get it to work was 30 feet at a dodgy 10Mbps. We went WiFi. – Chef Flambe Jan 31 '12 at 1:57

Buy a couple of cheap switches, put them on either side of the room and plug in the PCs on that side. Run one cable neatly around the perimeter of the room, plug one end into your router and the other into the switch on the far side of the room. Connect the other switch that's on the same side as the router.

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I had looked into your idea initially but realized the pattern of foot traffic would mean one wire would remain a tripping hazard. – Steve Jan 27 '12 at 6:35
Even if you run the cable along the ceiling? You don't have to string the cable along the floor just because it's a cable. – Michael Kjörling Jan 27 '12 at 9:42
The cable can also run along the base of a wall. – mhoran_psprep Jan 27 '12 at 13:29
The point here, Steve, is that one cable can be easily taped down so as not to trip over it. If you run it along anything, it will be even less of an already negligible trip hazard. After all, it's only an 8th of an inch high (or half a centimeter) and can't be picked up on top of a foot. – Arlen Beiler Jan 27 '12 at 20:48
Sidenote: ask your landlord what solution they would prefer. You might find them very accomodating when you suggest getting a network cabling company in to do it professionally. It adds value to their building... – HaydnWVN Feb 2 '12 at 14:42

Well, you'll need another router for this, but this sounds pretty much like what dd-wrt client mode is designed to handle. You'll need a wireless router that supports the firmware, and you can connect the PCs on one side of the room to the ethernet ports on the router running in client mode (so you only need one device, and you can use conventional ethernet to connect those systems, rather than have multiple wireless adaptors), have the AP and other computers on the other side.

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Thanks Journeyman Geek, I'll research your idea further. – Steve Jan 27 '12 at 8:34
I use DD-WRT for this purpose with great success in my home office. – Marve Jan 27 '12 at 19:59

Get a pair of wireless access points that support Wireless Distribution System (WDS), use them to bridge the two locations on your network sans-wire.

There are pre-configured WLAN bridges that do all the work for you, like e.g. the Zyxel WAP5605. You attach them to a hub or router on either end of your setup.

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Thanks Zoredache. Doing some research on your idea. To be clear that I understand, with existing routers & hub, I could add two new WAPs and config those as a bridge? Yes? No? :-) – Steve Jan 27 '12 at 7:37

You could leave the cables running along the floor and use a Cable Protector to protect them and prevent tripping.

Cable Protector

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mixed feelings on this. Depending on the location & flooring you can end up with the carpet being protected from the sun and a line being left when you remove it. – Sirex Jan 27 '12 at 14:35
If there is carpet, even better. Pull it back, cables go under. – Rob Jan 27 '12 at 16:17
Yes, its a carpeted rented flat. I would lose my security deposit if I pulled up the carpeting, even just a little. And these 'Cable Protection' do not keep people from tripping, they only protect cables. – Steve Jan 27 '12 at 16:32

There's another option if you have coax (cable TV) outlets in both locations; you can use MoCA adapters. MoCA sends Ethernet over coax without interfering with cable TV signals. I use this in my house to communicate between the first and third floors. Speed is comparable to a wired 100Mb connection (a little faster than powerline Ethernet, which I also use.)

Verizon FIOS routers implement MoCA, and used ones can usually be found on eBay for less than $50. They also include a 4-port switch. You would need one for both ends of your connection.

More info here:

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Interesting option. However, for me, there's only one coax (cable TV) outlet. – Steve Jan 27 '12 at 17:55
Oops, just made a duplicate answer. Oh well. Note that you can get a pair of receivers for only $80 – user606723 Jan 27 '12 at 20:39
This is also a good read: – user606723 Jan 27 '12 at 20:58

If its your house, stick the cables into the wall cavity.

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I wish I could, but the place is a rented flat. – Steve Jan 27 '12 at 8:33

Multimedia over Coax Alliance

As an alternative to power line networking, you can use MoCA. It allows you to do networking communication across your already existing coaxial cable.

Powerline networking has improved over the years, but it's not perfect. Newer implementations can also be expensive. MoCA doesn't use noisy powerlines that were never at all designed for such a thing.

Honestly, I don't think either solution is really a good idea for just across the room, but I thought I would mention it, since I think it's a better solution than powerline networking.

The equipment is only ~$80 for a pair and boasts 270mb connectivity. (Just like powerline networking, that's a theoretical max, but you should see 70mb in most situations)

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3M Command Strips are the security deposit's best friend. Specifically, 3M makes a "Medium Chord Clip" which will hold your cables more snugly than pounding something into your wall, and will come off completely clean when you move out.

They're a little bit pricey, but less so than an additional router, and they won't require you to change your network setup at all.

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How about something like a "backdrop support" ( Photo from shop I don't work for etc. etc). Can be obtained from a photo supply store, and fairly inexpensive. Put one in each corner of room, raise it to ceiling height, and run the cables across it with tie-wraps. Adjustable, portable.

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