No more wireless, I've gone wirefull!

Everyone else goes wireless with radio waves buzzing through the air and I return to good old ethernet cables and a switch. Today a package came from Amazon containing the D-Link DHP-303/B Powerline 200Mbps and a 5 port switch (and an internal drive to replace the tiny one in my Dell laptop but that’s another story).

The D-Link Powerline product is actually two plugs that are inserted into your wall sockets and use the wires in your house to communicate. I was a little dubious about it working well but it’s been fine. One plug is downstairs by the DSL router, and the other is upstairs here in my office. They apparently talk at 200Mbps but I’d take that with a grain of salt. My computers talk at 100Mbps, as does the switch so I presume that’s the limiting speed. It’s plenty fast enough for my DSL but I’ll have to try a file transfer later.

For the last few years I used WiFi to bridge the gap between downstairs and upstairs but this works just as well, and file transfers between computers aren’t as dog slow as they were using wireless networking. Wifi was never as fast as it should have been, probably because the signal was weakened by:

  1. Travelling through a wooden telephone desk in the hall
  2. Travelling diagonally up the stairs
  3. Going through an internal wall with a CD shelf behind it
  4. and finally finding the antenna of my Linux laptop buried inside my desk

No chance eh? I once tried to force the connection to be 54Mbps but it failed half the time, the Xbox wouldn’t connect. It just didn’t work well. Oh, and sometimes, the cordless phone ringing downstairs knocked me offline! Didn’t matter what channel I was on.

Sheesh, I’m getting very old school. I changed back to Apache from Nginx last weekend, changed from P2 to a more traditional WordPress theme this morning, and then dumped wireless networking this afternoon. I hear vinyl records are making a come back.

I will plug in the wifi router again, for those moments when I want to work from the kitchen. Unless I get another D-Link powerline adaptor..

17 thoughts on “No more wireless, I've gone wirefull!

  1. My brother has a set of powerline plugs because his phone jack is at the front of his house and his main computer is at the back and he’s got steel A-Frames through his house and using wireless just didn’t work for pretty much the same reasons as you.

    As for file transfer – even saturating a 54Mbit wireless connection (assuming you are the only person using it) is never going to be as fast as even a moderately performing powerline, and that’s the reason my wireless router/switch has a spare cable hanging from it for when I want to sync my server to my laptop.

    Why did you switch back to Apache from Nginx? I’ve seen all the blurb about how much faster it is than Apache but looking at something as “simple” as the WP re-write rules put me off it.

    1. I switched back to Apache for a few reasons – I have a tarpit to trap bots. It uses .htaccess “Deny” directives to stop them dead in their tracks. Any mod of the nginx config files requires a reload of the server. I could trap them with PHP but as I use mod rewrite rules to serve cached content those bots will be served those files.
      I didn’t get around to fiddling with virtual host configuration in Nginx. I don’t have time to learn about it either unfortunately.

      I don’t really need the performance of Nginx. This blog rarely hits 10k pageviews a day and my current setup serves that traffic just fine ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. I must admit I looked at Nginx but I’m running several virtual hosts on my box and it just looked too messy to go round reconfiguring everything to get it all working properly without problems.

        I didn’t know that basically it doesn’t support dynamic .htaccess changes, which I use quite a lot too.

      2. One thing to consider is NGINX and proxy php requests to Apache, this way you still get your .htaccess rules but you can use nginx to serve static content. From my small testing, Apache performs nearing the same as spawn-fcgi when behind nginx.

  2. These guys are the kiddy next time you have to add something to your network, they have a plug in front so you can plug your router in and wonder if you have, in fact, just created a mobius networks.

    Don’t buy from the Irish website though, it’s run by a wireless ISP and plays second fiddle to their primary business. The UK parent company are dead sound though.


    1. Impressive. A bit pricier than the ones I bought. I don’t think they’d work with the adaptors I bought because they use different chipsets. There’s a silly marketing video by a DS2 chipset maker on youtube explaining that the different powerline standards don’t work together…

  3. Definitely more expensive, but I’d guess the piggyback adds a few quid. I tried Devolo first but they didn’t stay plugged in, so they can’t have been all that good. My second purchase involved a lot of social research, and Solwise won hands down. If in doubt, ask them, they know their stuff.

  4. Donncha

    Thanks a lot for posting this. I have been intrigued about this technology and I feel almost embarrassed to admit this but I didn’t fully understand how it worked. I’d see adverts in these Sunday supplements but there was never enough technical detail. Or maybe I’m just too stupid to use Google.

    Anyway, my wireless network is adequate (mainly email/surfing) although it can be slightly temperamental so I’ll bear this option in mind.


  5. Regarding the speed of 200Mbit/s
    200Mbits is the speed of the total network, since every traffic is routed through the first plug.
    Your Router works at 100Mbits and so does your Network card in the PC.
    Meaning with only one plug your fine and can avail of the full speed, but if you plug in several 2nd plugs, eg. they are pluged into different rooms, the first plug will only feed with 200Mbit/s to like 5 PC’s, where as a router would feed each PC with 100Mbits.
    We are using a 85Mbit system at home, for internet usage that does not matter as such and is fast enough, but if you move files from computers within your network, you really want a faster feeder of 200Mbits.

  6. I was wondering if those power line yokes were any good, i might buy a couple of them now because I always heard they were crap. maybe I will go for gigabit ethernet instead but I think the wire wouldn’t look too nice or I’d have to go through the trouble of burying it under ground.

    You cant really blame anyone from going back to the oldschool stuff when the new stuff is so bad – wireless doesn’t have a range of more than 10 metres where I live. consumer grade wireless seems doomed to suck – transmit powers are too low and the frequency is too high for the signal to go through anything. if they had 500mW tx power at 500-800MHz you will start to get a decent range even if the speed will be a good bit less.

    i’m often considering to buy a few of those proprietary wireless RS-232 yokes with 1-watt transmitters because it would be so much more reliable than any of that wifi/mobile broadband shite that I have

  7. I’m sure you’ll all be glad to hear that Modern Warfare 2 behaved very well when I played it on Xbox Live this evening!
    I noticed it connected and got my player stats faster than when I used wifi and there was no lag in the game until the host left the game and the new host was laggy for about 5 seconds but fine after that.

    Didn’t help my game much at all though, my Kill/Death Ratio still sucks. ๐Ÿ™

  8. This would be off-topic except that you opened the door (cracked it, anyways), but I lurv Apache. Its very easy to accuse it of being a memory hog, as it can be, but I’m running multiple mediocre traffic sites (mostly WordPress, and one Magento) off of a 512mb node without ever hitting swap. Yes, there’s lighter, but why drive a honda when you can afford the bugatti?

    Liking the theme choice, with the minor exception of the blog navigation links at the top of post. You should get some 24 bit pngs there and a little #fff ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Thankfully I don’t think my analogies through, or I might feel a little silly. I’d still rather drive the Bugatti, but that’s probably just some good old fashioned western materialism.

  9. I was also tired of not working wireless connections at home, so i brought a powerline kit for myself.
    Next step; my dad`s computer also on the powerline.

    I`ve seen gigabit powerlan adapters in store already. Their a bit pricey though, 125 euro`s for 2.

  10. Ha! I have never been fond of wireless networks. Sure it is practical, but after trying to setup a HTPC to connect wirelessly to stream movies from my fileserver I gave up… CAT6 cables nicely hidden throughout the whole apartment now ๐Ÿ˜€

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