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Background: I have a custom built gaming machine running Windows 7 RC for which I bought a fairly cheap wireless adapter because I thought my dorm would have firewire internet again this year. When I got there they were all wireless. I immediately ordered a new decent wireless-n adapter and just installed it today. As I was installing, i thought "why should I even bother removing my older adapter?"

So, my question is: should I?

What are the pros/cons of having two adapters instead of one?
Is there a speed increase if they're connected to different networks? The same network?
Is the opposite true, will it slow my download speed?

Speakeasy speed test was inconclusive on those last points.
So far the biggest benefit I've seen is that I can always get a good signal from at least one of my adapters, since they have different antenna setups.

What do you think? Any tips?

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My wife's machine has 3. One has to be disabled because it is prone to linking at a very low bandwidth and causing headaches, the others coexist fine. –  Loren Pechtel Aug 21 at 0:08

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

For using multiple adapters, you will want to look at NIC Bonding.
Here is a linux reference on Serverfault: NIC bonding with two uplinks.

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Generally with wireless there's no particular advantage to multiple adapters on the same network since the total bandwidth (eg 54mbps for 802.11g) is shared amongst all the clients rather than like a network port where you have an amount per port. If you were to connect to different networks you would have a certain amount of bandwidth on each network but generally speaking each application would only be able to use one or the other.

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Would that mean though that if itunes uses one network for my downloads and firefox uses the other for browsing, they would not affect each other if they use different networks? Can I make them use one or the other, or how is that determined? –  CSharperWithJava Sep 21 '09 at 14:33
    
The only time I've ever done this is with a router that handled the aggregation for me, so I plugged both WAN connections into the router and it picked which connection to use for which applications. I'm not even sure what would happen if you used two networks from the same PC, the very least you would have to do is make sure they were in different subnets. –  Col Sep 21 '09 at 14:53
    
I think Nik's first reference is probably going to be helpful answering your questions. –  Col Sep 21 '09 at 14:54

Even if your software would handle which app uses which NIC, the chances are both NICs are attached to the same access point thus rendering the exercise moot. Remember wireless is simplex communication. When anyone or anything is using the channel, you cannot send or receive. Even if it is your neighbor, and lord forbid he still has a 802.11b client. If your access point can see any 802.11b client then you will be running in RTS/CTS protection mode and your wireless will not be running as efficient as possible.

Turn off your lower data rates. These rates are not needed around a normal house. Ideally you want 11mbs and below disabled with 12mb being mandatory with all others supported. This will result in a performance increase if there are any 802.11b clients in the area (remember not just your devices but anything within RF range of the access point). In addition, the 12mb beacon rate is much faster than the 1mb beacon rate which means less channel overhead and more time for client frames.

If you find turning off these data rates causes you issues, then i would suggest another access point to cover the area having issues or in a pinch you could get larger antennas. Larger antenna presents other problems like hidden-node scenarios and creates unbalanced cells. Hidden-Node can cause the same RTS/CTS protection mechanisms used for 802.11b clients to be enabled causing performance issues. You avoid hidden nodes by managing your gain. You want your overall power to be relatively close to those of the clients. This allows clients on the access point to see each other and avoid issues.

To avoid issues with wireless you must think in terms of wireless quality vs quantity. What i mean by this is you really need to sacrifice coverage for quality. To make up for the coverage you add access points.

  • Sirmuzz
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