Home Network for 30+ computers

By gregg.reilly ·
I have a problem im setting out to fix and any advice I could get would be greatly appreciated.

I'm currently a student in University, and Im trying to restructure the network for my fraternity's house, because its absolutly terrible right now, creeps along slowly, even with a very good broadband connection.

what we need is a reliable, quick internet connection, no more. There will be about 23-29 computers wired in and a passworded wifi network.

So basically what im asking for is does anyone ahve a few links to some good articles that would outline what course of action we might take to meet our needs? or pwerhaps suggestions of what hardware we should start with?

thx alot!

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All Answers

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a 'caching proxy server' might help

by Absolutely In reply to Home Network for 30+ comp ...

In Linux, the program squid is pretty easy to configure. Get a gigabit ethernet router with 30+ ports & make sure that on your Linux server, the interface to your lan is gigabit ethernet. The interface to the Internet doesn't really matter. You won't get a faster connection than a 100 megabit nic can handle off-campus, but you want to send the cached pages to thirty different clients as fast as possible.

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Current Structure

by oscar_villalta In reply to Home Network for 30+ comp ...

What is your current network Structure?

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current structure is there isnt one...

by gregg.reilly In reply to Current Structure

the way its set up right now is someone has a router, such as a standard linksys type wrt54g home router, which is connected to the modem. And then connected to that is a 30-port switch which takes the cat-5 to all the rooms. The house is actually fairly new, like 4 years old, so cables were prewired into the wall. There is no server for the house. Thats about it. its never really been dealt with, but its always been a problem. but since im moving in in 2 weeks, its a bit of a priority to me.

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Seems like your network is ready

by e2bc In reply to current structure is ther ...

It seems to me that your network is ready to rock. You have a broadband modem + an Internet router + a network switch. Each room is wired to the switch using Cat.5 cable.

Your next step is to ensure all rooms are properly wired. You will need to perform simple network testing. Go to each room, hard wire to your laptop PC from the RJ-45 jack, and test each connection.

Make sure the following:

1. Your laptop receives a private DHCP IP address from your Internet router. Make sure subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS server IP address are properly obtained as well.
2. Visit a number of web sites using your web browser such as or
3. If you know how to "ping", ping your Internet router. Make sure you receive reply messages. This will ensure your local area network work properly. You can also ping another device if it's available on the same network.

Hope this helps.

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Change the Router

by blazinride In reply to Seems like your network i ...

That Linksys router is horrible, especially for P2P connections, especially with the stock firmware of VxWorks. Those routers artificially limit the number of concurrent connections.

Change to one of the high end D-Link gaming routers with built in gigabit, that should help speed up the connection.

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any thoughts on firmware?

by Neon Samurai In reply to Change the Router

I'm running a linksys at home. Any comments on Tommato vs OpenWRT or DDwrt? I've had little issue with the hardware once I got the linksys firmware replaced.

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You can check broadband performance as well...

by jclarke1000 In reply to Seems like your network i ...

There are several online tools that will measure the performance of your network connection, by basically uploading and downloading a file to your PC and telling you how fast that was. The numbers vary a great deal, but should be in the hundreds of kilobits per second for a good broadband connection.

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but it looks good.

by jclarke1000 In reply to current structure is ther ...

I agree with the previous post that what you have in place should be doing the trick.

Stupid question: The switch is indeed a switch and not a shared hub?

Does performance from your PC's vary during the day? Great when no one is home, but poor in the evenings when every is online? If so, then the broadband connection may just be overloaded. Are you using cable or dsl for the connection?

When you ping another PC in the house or the router, do you see times of less than 5ms (less than 1ms should be typical)? That might indicate problems with the wiring or the switch.

A caching server may help, but only if everyone is going to the same sites. With so much dynamic content out there, I would not expect caching to work too well.

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Absolutely has the right idea

by w2ktechman In reply to Home Network for 30+ comp ...

unless you want to get another Internet connection to 'help' speed things up a bit, which means a few more pieces of HW.

With caching the most popular Internet pages, every computer does not need to go out to the Internet every time. This can really reduce the need for bandwidth. However, it will probably still be quite slow as the amount of people using the line, and the max bandwidth available for use.

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Extra hardware?

by dalton.salisbury In reply to Absolutely has the right ...

If you could manage to get a hold of a computer that you can turn into a server, you should try out IP Cop.

With that, you could turn a relatively fast PC into what you want, and you could eliminate the WRT54G as the router // firewall and set it up as JUST an access point (this has the benefit of freeing up the resources on the wireless portion, since it no longer has the over head of being the DHCP server, plus firewall, plus NAT, plus everything else involved).

Specs for the computer?

RAM is more important than CPU speed on the firewall, since caching would be of the utmost importance. ***(but at the same time don't get to slow of a computer)*** I have seen 266mhz with 128megs of RAM do pretty well with IP Cop, with no more than 10 users. So for 30 computers I would recommend a 1.5ghz with a gig of ram. That would give you room to grow, but more importantly it would give you room to breathe with 30 people pulling stuff from the internet at the same time. Also fortunately IP Cop has a web interface, so you would only need a keyboard, mouse and monitor for the duration of the install.

I agree with what was said earlier. Get a gigabit switch with a gigabit network card for the internal network. No other computers need to have a gigabit card as far as I understand, just so long as the internal nic on the IP Cop box does (you might want to look into that though).

Total Parts:
1 tower (CPU // Ram // Hard Drive // 1 gigabit NIC // 1 other NIC (probably 100 BaseT Fast Ethernet since 10 BaseT isn't as easy to find) // Power Supply // 1 CD-ROM (for the install) // 1 CD-R (for the IP Cop install)

You could also set up the IP Cop Box to separate the wireless and the wired networks which would relieve some of the stress on the internal NIC, but that's a discussion for when you have decided what solution to use (and might not increase performance at all, since I doubt the internal NIC is going to be the first bottleneck you encounter).

IP Cop is free, minus the hardware costs. I am assuming that cost is a factor, but with 30 people you could get the money together. Just explain the benefits and how it will effect their day-to-day web surfing, versus the low cost (20 dollars from all 30 people = 600 dollars, and you could get a pretty decent RIG for that price).

Just my 2 cents.

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