I'm going to buy a(nother) home server, which will include network storage. I was considering making the server double as a htpc, which means that it will be across the room from my router/modem.

I was wondering about how network and transfer speeds would be affected by this choice. In this case, my router acts as a wireless access point. Both server and "normal" computers would then access the same wifi network, presumably forcing all traffic through this router.

Would wifi traffic between two clients be slower than between one client and the router? Alternatively, I might consider not using the server as an htpc, and then connecting it via ethernet to the router, if this is considerably faster.


Yes, your network would be slower between two clients than just the one client transferring data using the wireless router. This is because at any given time there can only be one computer/NIC that transfers data on the media. This means that while one computer is transferring data to or from the router all other computers have to wait until the computer already transferring data is done before they can transfer their data.

If you have your server on wire while your clients are on wifi, then the server and one client can communicate with the router at the same time and work more efficiently. This might give you a better transfer speed, but you might not notice the difference.

If you have a relatively new wireless access point and computers that supports the new N standard and that uses the 5GHz band, then there is a good chance you will be satisfied using the wireless for your HTPC. In all other instances this will become very dependent on how many other wireless networks are their close by, what kind of hardware do you have in the computers and server and how much data do you expect to be transferred simultaneous on the media?

In short; If you have equipment that support 5GHz and the N standard, then your network will be on a less crowded band and support networks speed of up to 300Mbps which should be good enough for many private networks. If you have old equipment my personal experience is that in best case scenario you will think that things are OK, but not really be satisfied with the result.


  • at any given time there can only be one computer/NIC that transfers data on the media Isn't that true for router and PC communicating between each other as well? (CSMA/CA). That doesn't really explain the thing
    – Ashtray
    Aug 26 '13 at 8:51
  • @Mogget: I do have 802.11n 5GHz. And probably most of the larger files being transferred are backups and media files. So then do you think transferring files between two wifi-ed computers will be twice as slow as wifi + ethernet?
    – Sparhawk
    Aug 26 '13 at 12:38
  • @Alex I think Mogget means "interface" or "wifi" instead of "media" here? I read it as Mogget thinking that the speed of the wifi is the limiting factor in the speed of computer-to-computer transfers, and if I can reduce that load by moving one to (much faster) ethernet.
    – Sparhawk
    Aug 26 '13 at 12:39
  • 1
    @Alex, that is true for all instances. The reason for pointing this out is that if Sparhawk choses to use cable and wireless, then thats two different physical medias (air and cable) and they can work side by siden without interupting each other. I felt this was an important point.
    – Mogget
    Aug 26 '13 at 15:06

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