Home broadband routers are remarkably complex devices that few ever take the time to truly understand. As long as the lights are blinking, and webpages load, most people are inclined to leave them be. The few brave souls who venture into the firmware are often rewarded with a maze of menus that betray the true complexity of these underappreciated appliances. Wireless channels, security modes, and even port forwarding can be frustrating concepts for those without a networking background, but are absolutely critical to understanding how to optimize your home network.
In this guide we will teach you the finer points of security, as well as give you surefire ways to boost your router's performance. Topics covered include:
How to Safely Secure and Isolate a Network
How to Maximize Your Route's Broadcast Strength
How to Make Your Router Play Nice with Skype and BitTorrent
With 802.11n Draft 2.0 routers becoming as common as Storm Troopers at Comic-Con, manufacturers need a feature that sets their product apart from the crowd. Like many of its competitors, Belkin added a second radio to its N+ Wireless Router—but this one is used for a very different purpose.
Rather than operating on a separate frequency (to separate audio and video streams from more mundane data), the second 2.4GHz radio on Belkin’s router establishes a guest network that limits clients to Internet access. Belkin’s web interface provides extremely limited access to this second radio’s settings: You can turn this radio on or off, change its SSID and passphrase, and choose between WPA/WPA2 pre-shared key or “Hotel Style” security.
The IEEE standards group has finally ratified 802.11n, a standard that has been stuck in limbo since 2006 when it first entered draft status. Draft N devices delivered on the promise of higher speeds and better range, but despite assurances, many feared compatibility would be an issue down the road.
The extended delay in approving the standard came from competing “pre-N” technologies from Atheros and Broadcom, which led to a long and drawn out debate over the form of the final spec. The delay led the IEEE to certify Draft 2.0 802.11n devices in March 2007, with the understanding that these would be upgradable through firmware to the final standard. To accomplish this, a promise was made to make no major changes to the spec, or the certification process.
802.11n has seen a high level of adoption within consumer electronics and networking equipment, but companies are typically slow to adopt anything bearing the title “draft”. Keep an eye out for new firmware and drivers for your 802.11n hardware in the days and weeks to come. Officials from the IEEE plan to publish the final standard sometime in mid-October. I guess the time has finally come to look forward to the next big leap in Wi-Fi speeds. I wonder how many letters of the alphabet they plan to skip this time?
Have you been waiting for the Wi-Fi Alliances blessing to buy new hardware?
Taiwan based manufacturer of network solutions, D-Link, saw its highest revenues of the year last month. In August, the firm saw consolidated revenues of $80.43 million. This is particularly good news for D-Link, as the first eight months of the year showed a 16% decrease from 2008 numbers.
The monthly figures were also 7.8% higher than August of last year. D-Link also expects revenue to continue climbing for the rest of the year. Things are also looking up for 2010. "There's a lot of space for growth, especially in the emerging markets. Brazil and China appear to be climbing out of a slowdown, and that's going to drive some of our growth," said D-Link CEO, Tony Tsao.
Netgear’s MOCA (short for Multimedia over Coax Alliance) adapter is the can solution to the can’t. If you can’t get a reliable Wi-Fi signal throughout your home and you can’t make an Ethernet cable run and you can’t tap your home’s electrical grid with a HomePlug Powerline adapter, than MOCA is the can.
Using existing standard cable coax wires, the Netgear MOCA adapter lets you turn your cable TV runs into a “home entertainment network.” What the hell is that? Since the adapter is built around passing data through your cable TV, it’s no surprise that MOCA wants to push its adoption as an easy way to get Internet connectivity to your set top box, game console, or media center PC.
Setup is Joe-six-pack friendly: Just unplug the coax cable from your TV set and plug it into the Netgear MOCA adapter. Run a second coax cable from the adapter to the TV. TV signals are passed through transparently, so your American Idol viewing won’t be disturbed. And if the signal is degraded you can actually change the frequency the adapter operates on.
Networking in Windows 7 builds upon the drastic remodeling that occurred in Windows Vista. However, although some of the basic networking features in Windows 7 are similar to those in Windows Vista, many networking features have been improved in Microsoft's latest operating system. And, if you are moving up from Windows XP, you will find that Windows 7's network interface is a completely different animal than you've encountered before. Whether you're moving up from Windows Vista or Windows XP, join us after the jump to learn what's new and better in the main building blocks of Windows 7 networking.
You are reading Maximum PC because you love to build, and tweak your rig. We will gladly spend hours trying to nudge a few extra clock cycles out of our CPU’s, but why do so many of us refuse to touch our network settings? The vast majority of users simply plug in their network cables, cross their fingers, and sacrifice an AOL CD to the gods who keep Conficker at bay. Truth be told, without going into too much depth up front, there is a really easy way to boost your surfing speed and it requires very little effort at all. This same tool gives you the ability to customize your internet experience further by creating URL shortcuts, or even filtering content, all without extra software.
The tool we are referring to is Domain Name System, or DNS for short. In a nutshell, DNS is your phone book for the internet. It helps translate a friendly internet domain like www.maximumpc.com, into IP address that our computer needs to find servers on the internet. Each time you visit a new website, a DNS query is issued in the background, and you’re none the wiser. Internet service providers supply DNS to all their customers, but these servers tend to be overpopulated, and certainly aren’t a priority to them because it’s difficult for the average user to measure performance. Power users are intimately familiar with how to benchmark raw connection speeds, but before that even becomes a factor, your machine needs IP address which is supplied by your DNS. Even if your smoking fast Fiber Optic connection can handle 18 Mbps, if your ISP’s DNS server wastes several seconds looking up your favorite website, you connection may be sitting in limbo when you could be surfing instead.
Interested in finding out how to improve the responsiveness of your connection and learning more about your DNS options? Hit the jump to find out more.
Looking for a dual-band router so you can run two independent Wi-Fi networks, using one frequency band for data and the second for streaming media? Scratch the DGL-4500 off your list, because D-Link’s definition of “dual-band” means operating on either the 2.4GHz band or the 5.0GHz band—not both at the same time.
When we think of a dual-band router, we envision something like the Linksys WRT600N we’ve been using as a reference point. That device has separate 802.11n Draft 2.0 radios that enable us to run two independent wireless networks. That’s not to say the DGL-4500 is a lousy router; in fact, it delivered far superior performance at long distances than the WRT600N. Where the Linksys box is nearly useless when our Wi-Fi client is outside our test home—delivering throughput of just 0.7Mb/s at one exterior location and 1.2Mb/s at the other—the D-Link delivered exceptional throughput of 18.0Mb/s and 6.44Mb/s, respectively.
If Marvell has its way, plug computers will soon become commonplace. The company today announced its Plug Computing initiative, which seeks to make always-on computing not only more flexible and easy-to-use than it is today, but also more environmentally friendly compared to a typical desktop or laptop PC.
A plug computer is essentially a small embedded computer that plugs into a wall socket and hooks into your home network via an Ethernet cable. It can then run network-based services that would typically be handled by a desktop or laptop. Marvell's SheevaPlug platform, for example, comes equipped with a Kirkwood embedded processor based on an embedded 1.2GHz Sheeva CPU, 512MB of flash memory, and 512MB of DDR2 memory.
Gigabit Ethernet may still outrun all but the most extreme SSD Raid configurations, but researchers can never rest on their laurels. Always hoping to invent the next big thing, scientists now have their sights set on Terabit Ethernet to help quell our insatiable hunger for bandwidth. A team from Australia, Denmark, and China has combined their efforts to demonstrate terabit-per-second speeds using fiber optic cables, laser light, and an unusual material named chalcogenide.
The group documented the results of its most recent trial in a white paper published in the February 16th 2009 issue of Optics Express. Though the technology is promising, Ben Eggleton, research director for CUDOS (Center for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems), points out the current limitations. “The problem isn't injecting that much high speed data into an optical strand, called multiplexing, but retrieving data at such high rates”. Conventional electronics are capable of injecting dozens of 10 Gbps streams, but trying to retrieve these streams any faster than 40 Gbps is beyond our current capabilities.
The breakthrough here however isn’t in the speed itself, but in proving the concept.Until the processing hardware catches up with our transmission capabilities, you won’t be finding this in routers anytime soon. Eggleton speculates that these concepts can be adapted to achieve slower and more manageable results, but the goal of this experiment was simply to prove that it was possible using fully photonic chips built using the same methods employed by current CMOS circuits. "It's years to complete," Eggleton said, taking these research efforts into a production technology. But these demonstrations "are starting to establish this is a serious proposition."