SHCC WYSIWYG Article from March 2012

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This article was written by Don VanSyckel, the club president, as a part of "The President's Pen".  This article appeared in the March 2012 WYSIWYG newsletter.

Network Problems 2

by Don VanSyckel

For those of you who read my account of home networking last month you'll understand that uneventful is a good thing. I did get everything working with the purchase of a couple new devices. In the journey I got an education about routers.

First the main router connected to the cable modem had a problem and needed to be replaced. Second the switch in the basement had some issues and needed to be replaced. Briefly in the basement is a switch that has lines going to the different rooms. Next to the switch in the basement are the two file servers. The cable modem and internet router is in the den. My PC, printer, connection for my work laptop, and a second router for a special project are in a spare bedroom. My wife's PC is in another spare bedroom.

So in the end I moved the router by my PC down to the den to service the cable modem connection. I bought two eight port 10/100/1000 switches. One for the basement and the other for by my PC. I wanted to get a router that would do 100/1000 through the router. This is where the router education came in.

Let me digress here with a bit of router information. Routers are designed to separate two networks. The first is the Wide Area Network (WAN) which you have no control of and is generally thought of to be hostile. The second network is the Local Area Network (LAN) which you have total control of and is generally thought of to be friendly. Routers do have several uses but most home use is to simply divide the home LAN from the Internet Service Provider's (ISP) WAN. To facilitate this most routers today have a five port switch built into them; one port is internally connected to the router and the other four ports are made available externally via connectors. These are called router with four port switch to keep it simple. I'll point out here that if I have a PC and printer plugged into the LAN side, the speed of the communications is dependent only on the speed of the switch because the data is not going through the router. Data going from the LAN side to the WAN side and back is dependent on the speed on the networks on both the LAN side and the WAN side of the router. So I wanted a router that would support at least 100/1000 on both the LAN side and the WAN side.

Routers have been progressing along with the technology. They started out at 10 MHz on both sides and have been progressing from there. Refer to the chart below.

TypeWAN speedLAN speed
110 MHz10 MHz
210 MHz10/100 MHz
310/100 MHz10/100 MHz
410/100 MHz10/100/1000 MHz
510/100/1000 MHz10/100/1000 MHz

To get my PC in the office connected all the way through to the file serers in the basement with gigabit (1000 MHz) I needed a router listed as type 5 in the table above. You have to read the fine print in the router specifications. There are some routers out there advertising themselves as gigabit routers when really they are 10/100 routers with a four port 10/100/1000 switch on the LAN side (Type 4). I was prepared for the router I wanted to cost more because it has more capability and probably lower quantity sales. I settled on the D-Link DIR-645 for $90 at Micro Center. This router is quite different than routers I've seen in the past. Instead of the flat rectangular box it is cylindrical something like a large very tall mug but without the handle. Lights are in the front and connectors are on a flatten strip up the back. The other difference is there are no antennas visible. They must be there, just inside.

End of Article

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