Notes about some local area networking basics which I took while setting up my first router, the Netgear Nighthawk R7000P. I wanted to make sure I understood all the settings that could be changed so that required a decent bit of research.read more
Internet IP: dynamically get from ISP (no real choice here). DNS: changed to Google's (126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52) MAC: keeping the default. Wireless Wireless Spectrum: graphic below, essentially, these are revisions by the IEEE which actually open up new frequencies/change the frequencies that we're able to communicate on. So, basically, it's just increasing our wavelength use over time so we can get more bandwidth through the air. These also come with algorithmic changes that increase the speeds. Each of these spectrums have a maximum theoretical limit that you're unlikely to hit in practice. WiFi Frequency Band: 2.4GHz has been around a lot longer and is unregulated. That's why there is so much garbage using it, cordless phones, microwaves, baby monitors, etc. 5GHz is regulated and costs more to produce something on it, so there are fewer things crowding that frequency band. WiFi channel frequency: within a band, there are channels, which are just regions of frequency, I think for 2.4GHz the channels are each 20MHz wide. Only 1,6,11 don't overlap at all I believe. You can do channel bonding, which combines two channels and transmits on that, taking up 40MHz, but the issue is that this is going to be bad for your neighbors since you're taking up more frequencies. Enable Smart Connect. This is band steering, which essentially makes it so that anyone just connects to one SSID and the router (based on whatever conditions) determines whether to put them on the 5GHz or the 2.4GHz. Many routers create two separate SSIDs and then make users choose, but this is much better and simpler. Enable 20/40 MHz Coexistence: essentially, this is turned on by default and is a "good neighbor" policy. Basically, this turns of the channel bonding above so that you're limited to 20MHz. Now it's not just being mean to neighbors, since bonding channels would also mean that you're more likely to overlap with others and thus your throughput would be lower because interference is obviously going to go both ways. Basically, 40MHz (channel bonding) is best used on uncrowded 2.4GHz bands or in other uncrowded areas, like 5GHz. Leaving the channel at auto, mode at 600Mbps, power at 100%. Channel is discussed here, we should let the router configure and change it as the environment changes, mode it seems might relate to the wireless spectrum theoretical limit, but not sure, and power is mentioned elsewhere. For the 5GHz band's channel: should use WiFi explorer to figure out which channel has the least interference, although it seems like this might also be set dynamically by the router. Defaults: channel 153, up to 1625 mbps, 100%. As a test, c hanged the 5GHz to be channel 40, which has more networks around us with higher strength, and the download speed was cut in half on the first test. So, this really can make a huge difference. Security mode: should use WPA2 with AES. Using WPA or WEP will actually reduce speed. WPA2-PSK [AES] is really the only thing you should choose here, ever, based on security and speed. One other point: in order to be mean to neighbors, you could also change your transmit power, which basically increases the voltage and squelches out your neighbor's broadcast. This essentially reduces interference for you. Seems like you might need custom firmware to do this. DD-WRT Firmware is one. You could actually be increasing your signal strength and range by installing this and bringing up the voltage. You have to be careful not to fry your board, though. There's a reason it's not as high as it can go. There is a risk of bricking your router if you do it wrong, though. Also, it may be illegal in your country to boost this power level. Probably the times you want to do this: you're getting less than ideal throughput in a noisy crowded signal area, OR you have a big house or want your WiFi to extend much farther than it is. This is a good place to read: http://tomatousb.org/tut:increasing-wrt54g-transmit-power Dynamic QoS: leaving it off for now. Can turn on if someone is streaming and getting bad buffering while someone else is downloading. Readyshare: essentially allows backing up via WiFi to devices, with the necessary software. Could also use as a NAS, etc. Could also connect a printer. Could essentially create a cloud storage device by plugging in a backup drive and it'll let you access the storage from anywhere (essentially like a NAS). Guest Network: turn off the enable SSID broadcast for 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz. Misc in Advanced: DMZ server: we know that routers often will reject incoming connections from servers that are not in response to an outgoing connection from a client inside the network. You can enable this and have all of the traffic coming into the network that's not in response to an outgoing connection be directed to a DMZ server, (demilitarized zone essentially), so that this server can decide what to do with that request. Advanced > Setup > Device Name: change the router's name to "nighthawkRouter". Advanced > USB Functions > ReadySHARE Storage: • Turn off HTTP. • Enable Admin Password Protection for all of them. Advanced > USB Functions > ReadySHARE Storage > Media Server > Turn off DLNA Media Server. Advanced > Administration > Router Update: make sure "router auto firmware update" is enabled. CTS/RTS threshold: essentially has to do with "clear to send", so this should be tweaked with a high number of users on the network who are trampling over each other's traffic. This might actually only be relevant when you have multiple access points and two of them can't see each other but both can see a middle access point, then you run the risk of the two that can't see each other constantly bombarding the middle guy but having no idea they're doing it. CTS threshold seems to have to do with at what point of communication do you want to start doing the clear to send message protocol before starting to send data. Setting this lower would be good probably when you're getting a lot of collisions. Preamble mode: essentially how long to wait before sending the data, it seems like this comes after the CTS/RTS. Shorter preamble is going to be faster, but it doesn't necessarily work as well with other devices. WPS is essentially just a way you can connect devices without having to enter in a password and the network name, probably useful for printers. Advanced > Advanced Setup > Wireless Settings: Disable "enable router's PIN", since we don't want to enable any way of connecting other than password. Enable Implicit BEAMFORMING: essentially, rather than having the router just broadcast everything in all directions, this will (depending on the standard in the device its transmitting to) either guess where to direct the signal or it will figure out where it is (if the device has 802.11ac) and direct it right too it. The latter one is explicit beam forming. However, seems like implicit could make it worse in close range because it might miss and then you won't get the signal. Keep AIRTIME FAIRNESS on: since older devices take longer to communicate, they'd get more airtime if the router treated them all evenly by frames sent, but airtime fairness enforces equality based on wall clock time, so everyone is getting the same amount of air time. Keep MU-MIMO on: only newer devices (ac) can support this, but it makes it so that the router is able to talk to multiple devices at a time rather than very rapidly interrupting its stream to communicate to both devices. Dynamic DNS: if you wanted to host a website locally, but you don't have a static IP, it seems like you could use one of these services that essentially makes the DNS system update very quickly, so that you can essentially have a domain pointing to your IP even though it's changing regularly. VPN: we probably won't use, but would be cool if we VPN'd to our house in NC torrent. UPnP: appears to be a way for devices to communicate on the internal LAN, like a camera with a printer. It's just a protocol. It's Microsoft proprietary. Seems to be recommended to be turned OFF, for security reasons. IPv6: leave off for now, not much benefit it seems. VLAN settings: essentially making it so that you have virtual LANs, so broadcast traffic etc isn't getting sent to all devices on the network, but just the devices that might need to know. This only makes sense if you have sets of devices that would only communicate with each other, and could reduce chatter.