Tweak your wireless router

Steve Mallard, IT Manager
Many people who set up their wireless routers never optimize the channel to keep from ‘bumping’ into their neighbors.  Regardless if you are a Apple, Linux or Windows user, you should select a channel as far away from your neighbors devices as you can.   Use WiFi Analyzer for Android, (Apple), or InSSIDer for a PC to see what channels are being used around your home or business.

The second tip is involves fragmentation..   We don’t have one or two internet devices anymore, we have four or more.   Computers, laptops, netbooks, e-readers such as Kindles or Nooks, iPods, iPhones, Android tablets, iPads, Android, Windows Phones, Blurays, TVs and more.    So how can this be optimized?  These devices send packets of data in frames.   Imagine you talking.   Each word is a packet and the packets together are a sentence.   In a wireless environment, each device has to wait for the other to complete their sentence before it can talk.

Computer talking to router – ” I am going to WordPress to read a blog!”

Tablet waits on router and says – “I want to go to YouTube!”

Your router listens to the computer while the tablet is waiting.   The router processes the computer’s request and then listens to the tablet.   So how can it be optimized?

The default fragmentation for routers is 2346.  Many professionals recommend to set this at 800 or 1000 if there are many devices on your network.   So your router should work like this -

Computer and Tablet say – “I am going to – I want to go to – WordPress to read – YouTube! – a blog!”

See how each device gets a small piece of what it wants to say in to the router?  The router can process the information a little at a time keeping each devices wait time down.   This in  turn works with the RTS Threshold.

The RTS Threshold is  is used as a trigger to engage the back and forth of RTS (Ready to Send – “I have something to say”) and CTS (Clear to Send – “I am listening”) messages between the wireless router  and  your device. The triggers purpose is a type of “handshaking”.   The default value for RTS is 2347.   Try 2340 and lower as necessary. 

The preamble should be set to short.   Long is for 802.11b  devices (old legacy laptops or devices).  Auto is just in case you have someone with old computers that are coming into your home.   Auto works for old and new.   Generally older devices today have 802.11g.   802.11g and 802.11n work with long.   So if you don’t anticipate someone visiting with older devices, move the preamble to short.

DTIM is a traffic indicator.  It basically says – “Yo, I got something for you” during the beacon.  Setting this 1 point higher can actually save power when devices are listening.   So the device will awaken only when DTIM tells it to.

These settings are for people who have several devices on their network and are true consumers of the internet.   They are by no means the settings for everyone.   You may have to play with the settings to get optimal throughput.  Remember, test your bandwidth with two devices side by side and simultaneously.   Have each device strain your network by testing their throughput by going to an ISP site that test download speeds or stream a video at the same time.  You’ll see a difference.   The default values very well may be what you need if you don’t have many users and devices.   Give it a try.  You can always go back to your routers default values.

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One comment on “Tweak your wireless router

  1. […] RTS, DTIM and other settings that can further tweak your router. Rate this:TwitterFacebookPrintEmailRedditStumbleUponDiggPinterestLinkedInTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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