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I read through a number of threads regarding switches prior to posting this and couldn't seem to locate an answer.

The setup: Time Warner Cable, to support their 50Mbps connection, provides an ARRIS DOCSIS 3.0 Touchstone Data Gateway (Cable modem + router). There are several drops throughout the house. One to my office where I have a laptop and a desktop. I prefer a wired connection to both and so I repurposed an old router, as per instructions found online that were basically the same in many locations, including this website - give the old router an IP address in the subnet, but outside the DHCP range of the actual router(in this case the ARRIS) and turn off the DHCP for the repurposed router. At first I used a D-Link Wireless DIR-615 and left the wireless functionality to get an access point at the almost opposite end of the house.

After a monthish or so, my roommates began having issues with web pages loading - mild at first, but more severe over time until they were complaining, and rightly so, that it was ridiculous for us to pay ~$84/month. I honestly didn't seem to have issues, initially, and only after sometime did I start to see issues with google's instant-search and then issues where I would type in a search term, hit enter and nothing would happen - I would have to hit enter again, sometimes several times, to get the results to actually list. Everyone else would have their browser(s) showing the waiting for 'whatever site" for long periods of time - this was more acute with some sites, but eventually began to affect all sites for them. Sometimes refreshing would get them there, other times it was just insanely long waits or an inability to get to the site at all. So, I disconnected the repurposed router and just used the drop for my desktop. The horrible delays vanished instantly.

I gave this a few days and decided to try another router we had - a Cisco/Linksys WR54GT2 V1 - without mentioning it to my roommates. This time I disabled the wireless, but set it up the same as I did the D-Link. I inquired periodically if anyone was suffering problems again and initially there seemed to be no issues. But again, after a monthish, the same severe web page load times began to occur and get worse over time. Again, as soon as I disconnected the repurposed router, the issues went away.

So my question ... since the issue seems to be a function of the additional router, even just as a switch, is there something I'm missing or is this just something that happens with cheap switches and/or repurposed routers? I can't seem to find anything specific to simply having another switch as causing such things; moreover, I never saw any disclaimers or caveats on the various posts I read about using an old router in this fashion. But, and perhaps I'm oversimplifying, the presence of the switch seems to cause the problems.

I will note I was using what some might call a lot (~10-20Mbps Down) of bandwidth for several days right before one of my roommates mentioned the problem being extremely severe now, but was not for at least a couple of days while the problems still persisted. Also, there are times when I will have my desktop downloading while I work on my laptop. I do use a virtual server for two ports on my desktop and continue to do that in absence of the "switch." Not sure if there is anything else to tell - overall I would say the max items connected in a typical night might be: Roku 2(Wired via drop); my desktop and laptop(both were wired - lappy is wireless now); desktop(wired via drop); desktop (wireless), sometimes a netbook (wireless) and all our smartphones - 3 in total. With another roommate, currently gone, bringing another laptop(via wireless) and smartphone to the table. So I guess, a theoretical maximum, if people were making connections on all their devices would be: 11.

Any advice, regarding this issue, is appreciated. Thank you in advance and please let me know if more information is needed.

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I have a similar setup, and have had no major issues when the network wasn't acting up (due to unrelated things - the backbone of my network is homeplug, and it glitches when the dryer is on. I do think that there might be a ip address conflict or other configuraton wierdness going on. The exact config of your router would help a lot –  Journeyman Geek Jan 23 at 0:40

1 Answer 1

Your informal home network sounds a bit like my business's LAN was. I reorganized my business's network following hours of reading QAs here and on Server Fault as well as help via asking for it.

My thoughts:
» Get a switch
» Log in to the Gateway/Router and monitor DHCP
» Use the wifi device solely for AP

Get a switch
I have a feeling the Arris Gateway's 4 ports were never intended for having anything other than a PC on them and might not even be a "switch". To over simplify, switches pay attention to where MAC addresses are and relay packets to the ports with that MAC. Desktop 8 port Gigabit switches are super cheap and worth their weight in gold if it fixes your problems. Run one short CAT6 cable from the Arris to your switch.

Log in to the Gateway/Router
Beyond paying attention to what's happening with DHCP, snoop around every part of the web manager to learn more about the router's limitations. Keep a spreadsheet of all MAC addresses and IP addresses then set up static definitions for any boxes you are playing with. Arris' current offerings have wifi (as of April 2013); tell TWC yours is having issues and you want a new one.

Use the wifi device only for AP
When at their best, I already do not trust these devices. That's with factory firmware or DD-WRT. The lone exception to the dozen belkin and linksys wifi routers disappointing me is Buffalo I have right now running Tomato. It's the first time I've had a wifi device do something other than gateway/routing on the 1st try and also work well at it. And again, best practice is to have one switch and any cables in the house are running from it. Chaining switches (and not-exactly-switches) makes things not work.

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