We've all seen the reports of dropped connections and failure to connect via wireless. Well, I have a good number of residents complaining to the management about our internet. I do get rather fed up of this, so I performed this little experiment.
I tested my AP's and router - in front of a complaining resident and the building's management - to prove to them once and for all that the majority of the people in these apartments who complain about failure to connect with wireless, dropped connections, have something wrong with their computers. Over the years I have determined that our routers (mostly RT-N16's with a few WL500GP v2's) and AP's (all WRT54GL's) - all running Tomato - are very rarely to blame.
I used 3 computers to demonstrate to them that I simply don't suffer these problems.
1) my W7(64) i7 @4 GHz with 8GB RAM and Tenda "N" USB Wireless,
2) my daughter's W7(32) E7400@4GHz with 4GB RAM and TP-Link USB Wireless,
3) my wife's W7 DELL Latitude PP09S Notebook with 1.5GB RAM and Broadcom Wireless.
You will notice I don't use XP. Fine in it's day, but it's history now. A large number of problems with connectivity come from XP.
All were set to ping the main router (W7 ping -t) once every second. All were connected via an AP using K24 Firmware v 1.28.7619 Wireless Driver 184.108.40.206 (later tested with latest 7475.2 on E3000 with identical results).
I must also add that the whole system was online at the time with between 30 and 70 users connected at various times, with around 9 Mbps or more of traffic including P2p. All of us also used the PC's to surf the web and download via P2P at the same time, causing longer ping response times on occasions.
All computers connected around midday. The complaining resident's PC's tried to refresh lease regularly, between every 5 and 10 minutes and out to half an hour, at which point they disconnected. Or maybe the renewal attempt was caused by them reconnecting after a dropout. None of mine did that.
I used Ping Assist Light to give a warning of lost connections after 2 missed pings. The complaining client's computers fired the alarm regularly. None of mine triggered it even once, there never were two consecutive dropped packets.
At 6 p.m I terminated the W7 ping sessions and obtained the packet loss figures. There were a few odd dropped packets but the statistics rounded these off to 0 %.
Example (Tenda USB adapter, E3000, connected at 150Mbps)
After the resident had gone away with food for thought, and the owners of the building suitably impressed and happy with the outcome, I repeated the test on the E3000 (running as an AP with v.7475.2). I did this for my own interest because of the large numbers of forum posts complaining about flaky wireless with this router. I ran ping sessions again for 6 hours with the same results, NO wireless drops, NO disconnects, and the same 0% packet loss. See the screenshot above - 3 packets lost in 6 hours.
As once pointed out by Teddy Bear, for some reason we don't seem to see the connection problems reported by many users of Tomato.
What is the cause? Probably many things, but after setting the usual "bells and whistles" in the wireless setup to "off" which does clear up a few problems, the main cause seems to be the power saving "features" of many wireless cards.
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