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Thread: Networking: Wireless or Ethernet over powerline?

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    Question Networking: Wireless or Ethernet over powerline?

    I have a situation where my photo editing PC is away from my router, and I've moved it a couple of times so I haven't gone down the road of running an Ethernet cable to it. For the last year I've been using the basic PCI wireless adapter I put in (cost me something like $20). While it has been ok, I've had a few issues with it mainly with it dropping out and I need to disable and re-enable it to get it going. I tried to update drivers and that led to the blue screen of death at boot so I had to roll those back!

    So now I'm considering options for an update...

    1. Wireless adapter using PCI slot, 300Mbps Wireless N capable.
    2. USB version of the same
    3. Ethernet over power line adapters

    I've read a bit about each and it seems they all have pros and cons. Does anyone here have any advice on which way to go or what to look for?

    Edit, should have mentioned as it seems it is critical to some of these issues, I'm running Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit.
    Last edited by etherial; 25-06-2012 at 8:02pm.
    Mic

    Photography is the art of telling stories with light.

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    Many thing will interrupt with your 2.4ghz wireless band. Microwaves, cordless phones etc. The 5ghz range is less cluttered and less likely to be interfered with. Wireless N is running on the 5ghz band, provided your "router" and PC have an N capable adapter you should be right. USB Adapters generally have smaller antennas unless theyre running something external, so getting a PCI one, generally will have better range.

    I've never used those Ethernet over Power devices before, and while it's been done for ages, I'm still not personally comfortable with the idea. I dont know how reliable they would be at the end of the day either.

    64bit windows shouldnt be effecting it either, provided your device isnt very old.
    Last edited by ranvens; 26-06-2012 at 10:27pm.

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    Thanks mate, I was having issues with constant drop outs with my card. Today I've upgraded my hard drive and done a full fresh install, started off with freshly downloaded drivers and the device manager looks happier now and it has been bullet proof so far today. I'll see how it goes I guess.

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    Ethernet over power is the way to go! More speed, less interference, no extra cables to set up, I have some very positive experiences with it.

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    Thanks Patrick, you are the first person I've come across that has used it! Being an electrician by trade, I get a little anxious about connecting sensitive communications gear to mains AC!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ranvens View Post
    Wireless N is running on the 5ghz band, provided your "router" and PC have an N capable adapter you should be right. USB Adapters generally have smaller antennas unless theyre running something external, so getting a PCI one, generally will have better range.
    Wireless N runs on 2.4GHz AND 5GHz. Not all routers and cards do the 5GHz spectrum. You will still get N speed over 2.4GHz but as mentioned, it is much more susceptible to interference. On the other hand 5GHz doesn't have as good range. I wouldn't go out of my way to buy 5GHz capable gear as there's a lot you can do easily to improve wireless performance.

    Get a little program called inssider and run it on your computer - it will tell you what other wireless points are around and what channels they are on. Set your router to the least congested channel.
    Also make sure the router is away from cordless phone base stations and microwaves to help increase performance.

    PCI wireless cards place the antennas in a really bad spot - normally in a hard to get to space, which means that wireless reception in there is typically affected by walls, cables, the case itself etc. An external antenna(s) is not too expensive and will make a world of difference.

    Make sure power management is turned off on your wireless card in device manager. I've encountered dozens of times where a wireless card will go into standby and not wakeup until it is disabled/re-enabled.

    In my experience USB wireless adapters are pretty ordinary, although you can normally move them around and put them in a better spot.

    Quote Originally Posted by patrickv View Post
    Ethernet over power is the way to go! More speed, less interference, no extra cables to set up, I have some very positive experiences with it.
    It only works if the power points are on the same electrical circuit.

    Quote Originally Posted by etherial View Post
    Thanks Patrick, you are the first person I've come across that has used it! Being an electrician by trade, I get a little anxious about connecting sensitive communications gear to mains AC!
    See my previous response, but being an electrician you'd already know that!

    I do agree about being anxious about connecting it to mains AC, however the gear is already connected to mains for it to run...
    If you're an electrician, could you not just run an ethernet cable? It ticks all the boxes - rock solid reliable, fast, and not directly connected to mains (well, not the comms side anyway). I know it's painful to run, but you could run two lines together and get an extra phone outlet, or move the router (phone lines run fine over ethernet cabling) - a world of possibilities. It also opens up higher speeds to your main workstation for you should you some day receive the NBN... After all, wireless 300Mbps is its PEAK speed. It typically will not be able to maintain that speed.
    Last edited by dieselpower; 28-06-2012 at 9:10am.

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    Yes indeed I could run some ethernet cables around the place, but that involves climbing in my roof, lifting tin to get down the walls etc, and I hadn't settled on just where my main PC is going to live and I'm just plain lazy!

    I reinstalled windows this week (for my new SSD) and managed to get new drivers on for the wireless PCI card that I couldn't do before for some reason. It seems much more stable now. I find the speed pretty reasonable and generally it is my internet connection that is the bottleneck, although 6Mbps is still pretty decent (it is the upload speed I crave for!).

    Thanks for the advice on the Wireless channels, I've played with apps on my phone which look at channels etc, I'm guessing these would be similar to the one you speak of? As I live in the middle of no-where there is no issues with interference from anyone else, but I do have a cordless phone base station that sits right next to my router in the office, so I think I'll move that now

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    Yeah if there's nobody else nearby then other routers isn't likely to be an issue. I can only see one other one in only one spot in our place and the neighbours house is pretty close. It's only a real big issue in densely populated spots, like apartment complexes for instance!

    The apps you speak of would do pretty much the same thing.

    You don't have to move the phone base far. I found with mine that moving it about 1.5m made a world of difference. That said, I only had interference problems on the phone (not the wireless) and only if someone was on the phone at the time!

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    Quote Originally Posted by etherial View Post
    Yes indeed I could run some ethernet cables around the place, but that involves climbing in my roof, lifting tin to get down the walls etc, and I hadn't settled on just where my main PC is going to live and I'm just plain lazy!
    Go on just do it! It is the best thing I ever did. Wifi is convenient but for photos and large file transfers, it is far from ideal!
    RodW
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