WiFi & Performance

Network Speed

The problem of network speed is the spin placed on products and services to sell them. In general they get bigger numbers by talking in terms if bits. So, take a 100Mb (bits) local network, which is what most routers and switches or hubs can handle. It can move 12MB (bytes) of ‘FILE’ data per second. That ‘MB’ (bytes) is the unit of measure most computer operating systems use to measure file size. See the marketing spin?

So, a 50Mb download speed is 6.25MB/sec of file size.



You should understand now that a big part of the bottleneck between you and the data you want is the limit of the network you are using. Old (more than 10 years old) switches/hubs and routers are designed for 10Mb/sec and that is 0.6MB/sec of file size. Old (15+ years) network cable is only designed to reliably handle 10Mbps. Most cable in use today handles 100Mbps. New cable handles 1,000Mbps, but it is still expensive and not many builders install it.

The key to your performance issues is in knowing where your bottlenecks are. Is your neighbor on the same wireless channel? Are you both trying to divide up a 6MB channel? What devices in your house are using the wireless channels? Printers? TV? Roku? Phones? Tablets? A new refrigerator or washer and dryer? Log into your router or access point and look at the connected devices list.

We have similar problems if we use wire. But, with wire, we know what we have plugged in because we had to plug it in. So, we seldom let our wired network get as out of control as wireless networks do.

The site SpeedTest.net will measure the actual speed of your network. As Lindal says you can move a file in your home or office to another device on the network to get a measure of your network’s speed. Use a large file for more accuracy. SpeedTest.net is basically doing the same thing, just across your local net (LAN) and the Internet (WAN).

When you start measuring you’ll notice that a file takes much longer to upload/download than you expect based on the rated speeds. SpeedTest.net tells me I generally have a connection that carries about 60Mbps. So, a 7MB file should download in 1 second. But, it can take a minute or more. There are numerous other factors that slow things down.

Live Your Life

Live Your Life

When you send a letter you put it in an envelope with addressing, to and from. On the network we call that envelop a ‘packet’. A packet holds only so many bits of actual data. It also uses bytes for addressing, and error correction information. Transferring a 7MB file will require thousands of packets all with addressing and error correction overhead. We also have the hardware hand-shaking and network lag to add into the list of factors reducing total throughput. Plus busy computers can force the network to wait. Each file transfer is a unique event subject to a rapidly changing network as billions of devices make and break network connections across the Internet. Consider your rated speed from SpeedTest.net the average possible at the moment you measure, not a measure of what will happen with each and every file transfer.

Over all there is little room to improve viewer performance by improving network performance, in the sense of frames per second. In general better network performance can significantly reduce the time to full render. Said another way, until all the gray is gone and everything is the right shape and visible.

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