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

Anyone have any suggestions?

I've got a PC and a laptop, both with Windows 7. Each has a wireless network card that is shown to be connected at 54 Mbps. I'm copying a large file (15 gigs) between the two and both show that the network utilization is around 20%.

I did the math and a 15 gig file at 54 megabits per second should only take about 45 minutes or so and Windows is estimating it to take 'about four hours'.

I've set my wireless router to only accept Wireless G connections...and both of my wireless cards support wireless G. And, like I said, Windows shows each connection as being at 54 MBPS but it's only using 20%.

How can I improve this? I'm looking at adding a streaming media type player so I'd really like to get my equipment operating at more than 20%. Or am I just misunderstanding the numbers?

EDIT Since my primary concern is streaming media - I've been watching the utilization while streaming a video from my PC to my laptop. The file I'm streaming is 399,297KB and the file is 43 minutes log. If I'm understanding this correctly - that should only be 154.766 KB per second to stream + whatever overhead there is in the packet headers. But when I watch the utilization it jumps up and down from 5% all the way up to 18% (and I can't ever get my network to go past 20%).

But what's confusing me is that 18% of 54 megabits per second should be 1,244 KB per second. But, the show I'm trying to stream is only supposed to be 154KB per second. So, I mean, at first glance I'm thinking - 'WoW, this streaming media extender thing will work great and I could have several of them going at the same time, I just need a tiny fraction of the available bandwidth...'

But just streaming this one 400,000kb file is taking up 18% of my network utilization!?

Is this within the normal operating specs or is something really wrong here? Can I check to see how many packets are being dropped or something that might point me in the right direction? Have I just done all of my math incorrectly?

share|improve this question
You can improve this by using wired ethernet. – emgee Oct 29 '09 at 23:35
up vote 1 down vote accepted

After some research it seems that there are two answers here...

1.) The ~20% Limit

The 54Mbps is, for the most part, a theoretical upper-bound that will never be reached in a real world situation. If you can get half of that limit you are doing pretty good for yourself. If, like me, you are coming up short there are a few things you can try...

  • Change your wireless channel. You may find less interference and better performance on another channel.
  • Reposition your router/adapters. Things like walls and metal objects can cause problems. Sometimes a small adjustment to the location of your devices can increase the speed significantly.
  • Use the same brand. From what I've read, people seem to have much better performance when the router and the network card are from the same brand.

In my particular case, moving the wireless USB adapter seemed to have the most profound affect.

2.) The Media Player Usage

I don't have a good answer for this; except to say that Media Player might be improperly configured or have a bug of some sort. Using other players, like VLC, yielded a much more consistent (and much lower) usage. I'll be upgrading to the latest version of Media Player tonight and seeing if that helps or not; but VLC streamed the content and used an amount of bandwidth that seems to align with my mathematical prediction.

It's possible that Media Center is trying to download more of the movie at once to build up a large buffer or something; but I can say running two instances of Windows Media Player resulted in lag. I ran four instances of VLC and it was lag free.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

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