LAN Network speed

I just got distracted on wikipedia, and have been reminded of something that’s been annoying me for a while now. I may have realised why transferring files to my laptop from the server over the wireless network is so slow. I always assumed it was my 10 year old server running on a 1Ghz PIII processor that just wasn’t up to the job, but apparently not. My home network is 54Mbit/s 802.11g wireless network from a BT Home Hub.

Testing the speeds for wired and wireless connections were’t pleasing. The Ethernet LAN peaked at 540Kb/s while the WiFi peaked at 1.6Mb/s (how odd) then both proceeded to trundle along between 450-500Kb/s for the rest of the transfer. Which isn’t a lot, so I’m now researching through Google, ways to speed up a LAN network.

Let’s take a ‘real world’ situation to analyse the capacity of the network. Let’s say I want to watch a film. If it’s standard definition and encoded in DivX or Xvid, it’s going to be about 700Mb for 1h30. 1h30 is 90 minutes, which is 5,400 seconds. Dividing 700Mb by 5,400 gives 0.1296Mb/s or about 130Kb/s. Meaning, to stream an SD film, the network would have to be at least capable of a 130Kb/s data transfer rate. As you can see, 500Kb/s is big enough for that but there’s not much spare. Only 3 people could be watching a film at the same time! Sure, even that’s probably never going to happen, but it’s annoying that that’s all the network’s capable of.

The real problem occurs though when the network’s doing something else. I can be watching a film/video/listening to music, then, I want to copy a 20Mb presentation from the server too. Sure, it can be done, but whatever’s playing will stop, because the bandwidth is diverted to the file being transferred. That’s the best case, if you’re unlucky it’s split, so the music stops and starts and the file copies slower. Surely this isn’t right. I’m now seriously tempted to push the old server back to the garage and put the server software on my XPC computer. I was planning to sell it, but I probably wouldn’t get more than a £50 for it on eBay anyway.

XPC                              Vs                   Homemade taped together server

2.4Ghz AMD                                     1Gbz PIII
180Gb HDD                                      40Gb HDD

1Gb RAM                                           384Gb RAM

It’s tempting…

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