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Suggestions on wireless card please

By DanLM ·
The desktop that I currently am using is using a netgear usb wireless adapter which basically blows chunks. I have tried to perform large file transfers to this machines and it goes belly up. Wireless connection drops and I have to perform a repair. I know it's the adapter(or driver to) because my laptop is able to handle the large transfers via wireless. The laptop wireless is built in.

So, if in doubt. Throw the mother out.

The wireless router is a netgear also, but it seems to be doing fine. This desktop is a dell dimension something or another p.o.s..

I want to go with an internal pci card this time if possible.

So, oh great warriors of the tech world. Suggestions on how to win this war of p.o.s. network cards?


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Well it just may not be the USB thing or it's drivers

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Suggestions on wireless c ...

I've seen more than 1 case where the USB Device works perfectly when not plugged into a USB Port but is stuck on the end of an extension lead mounted up higher than the case. At the same time the PCI Cards with the antennae sticking out the back produce a poor signal quality as well and it is the case blocking the signal to the WiFi Access Point.

In every case where this has happened the Access Point was some distance from the affected computer and the signal was showing good but failing because the case was absorbing a lot of the signal or reflecting it in a different direction or maybe a combination of both, I'm not sure as I never actually took any measurements I just added an extension lead for the USB Box and it worked. I've done the same thing with the aerials on the PCI Cards as well and turned something from so so to excellent. Of course the correct solution is to correctly place the WiFi Access point but unfortunately this isn't always possible or desirable particularly in the work environment where it is just stuck where it fits and expected to work.

Home systems particularly in Flats are a nightmare to deal with as there can be so many different Signals available that it's very hard to find the right one to grab and in a situation like that with open WiFi any of the available signals can get grabbed as the conditions change breaking a file transfer.

I've used a lot of Consumer Class WiFi PCI Cards and honestly I haven't noticed a major difference between them. They are all much of a muchness as far as I'm concerned but I do agree that the PCI Type is superior to USB as they are faster or at least tend to be on the same hardware with the same transfers being used.


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Some more thoughts

Hal9000 gave an excellent answer that I totally agree with. I thought I just might humbly add a few more ideas to the mix.

First: I have personally had very little success with any Belkin wireless equipment. That probably clouds my judgment, but due to circumstances similar to yours I refuse to use their Wi-Fi gear.

Second: Hal9000's point about where the extending the USB device into a more suitable location via an USB extension cable is a very good first try and the link below takes it a bit further. I've tried some of the various DIY antennas, which markedly improved the link.

It takes little physical distance to move in and out of null spots or areas of multipath fading, and null spots greatly decrease signal quality. An example would be that of having poor cell phone reception and only having to move a foot or so to get a better signal. That maybe the case here and the USB device extension may move the antenna out of a null spot.

Trying a different channel or checking to see if there are other Wi-Fi networks in the vicinity and what channels they are using maybe a good idea as well. Not only for this problem, but to possible eliminate any co-channel or near channel interference.

Third: I again agree that using a PCI card Wi-Fi adapter is usually more stable.

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Encryption may be the culprit

by nepenthe0 In reply to Suggestions on wireless c ...

Dan, the suggestions already posted carry the weight of solid experience. That said, I'd like to offer my two bits for what it's worth.

1) I have used both USB and PC card wireless adapters. My experience is the opposite of the last two posters - USB adapters work better.

2) Netgear makes the worst wireless equipment on the planet. My Netgear cable modem actually burned up within a few months of purchase, and their technical support was worse than worthless.

3) Linksys configurations are stable and their hardware is inexpensive. The previous postings suggest little difference in performance, but I have found otherwise. My Linksys router/adapter have performed perfectly for two years without incident.

4) Consider disabling encryption. The security folks will jump all over me for this recommendation, but I have found encryption to slow connections and to be associated with dropped connections. Transfer rates are significantly slower with encryption enabled. WPA is more troublesome than WEP, and as you know, WEP is less secure than WPA.

5) I have no intruders in my wireless network with encryption disabled. I can monitor this with the Linksys configuration menu:

Status > Local Network > DHCP Client Table

I have never seen an unauthorized MAC address on my network, and my SSID is always broadcast.

6) If you are willing to take the risk of disabling encryption, you can filter the MAC addresses authorized on the network. Normally these will be the MAC addresses of the wireless adapters, or the desktop computer's native MAC address if it's connected by Ethernet cable to the router.

7) A vertical booster antenna on the router can expand horizontal range by ~50%.

Look for 2.4GHz interference, particularly from cordless telephone base stations.

9) Consider bandwidth issues if there are other channels with >30% signal strength. There should be 5 channels between your router and the competing signal.

10) Look for RF interference (fans, motors, hard drives, etc.)

11) Look for shielding issues (metal cabinets, etc).

12) The following hardware has worked seamlessly for me:

That about exhausts my knowledge of wireless connection glitches. I hope it may be useful for you. Good luck.

Rick/Portland, OR

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Ok, you have me thinking with regard to location of adapter

by DanLM In reply to Suggestions on wireless c ...

I should have added the following.

Because the USB is a NetGear, there is a GUI that tells me what my reception strength is. It always records as excellent. Don't think I have ever seen it other then that to be truthful.

Also, this USB adapter is connected via a USB hub. That, I also should have added.

Both machines are situated in the same room as the router.

The laptop sits higher due to it is sitting on a desk, where as the desktop USB adapter is under my desk. In that I have a peaces and parts box, I already have extension cables where I can move the USB adapter up as high as what my laptop sits. I'm an idiot, I should have thought of this first.

The reason I thought it was the USB adapter(NetGear) is due to a conversation at work, and I didn't explore other thought process's afterwords.

Thank you for the help. Again, I will move the USB higher to see if that improves reception.

hmmmm, for some reason I still think its NetGear... But proving it one way or another won't cost me anything.

With regard to the dropping of encryption... I'm not sure that is an issue here... The laptop connection is encrypted and it doesn't seem to matter one way or another. That, and I'm so bloody paranoid that there is no way I will drop my encryption.

Thank you for all the help and ideas. Very much appreciated.


[edited] Forgot about the USB hub

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Well, 90 gig backup of audio books blew that idea out of the water

by DanLM In reply to Ok, you have me thinking ...

Chuckle, that hurt the adapter so bad that I had to unplug it and plug it back in to get it to work again. God, I love breaking things some days. I'm good at it.

Ok, with that said and done.. I know if I try the same backup from my laptop, which is encrypted connection also, that I will have no problems.

I had placed my adapter on top of my desk so that it was on level with the lap top... Just different side of the room. The laptop has a fish tank with all the electronic crap that goes with it between it and the router. The desktop has no electronics between it and the router...

Ok, I've come back to the opinion of. If in doubt, throw the mother out... I did try upgrading the driver, that was a very unpleasant experience... Most likely because I used The driver I chose had a high rating of sucess... Just not with me Micro Center here I come next weekend.

Ok, here is why all of this reared its ugly head. I just won a iPod touch... Which required me to download itunes... After I got reading, I got uncomfortable with my music not being backed up prior to me doing id3 tag changes and a few other things I was thinking of... So I started the backups... Which is how I found everything works fine off the laptop.....

The problem here is I don't want to use that laptop, I bought it for my girlfriend... I don't want to start loading crap onto it... That is a clean machine, I want to keep it that way for her and I.


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Caution about not using encryption.

There is a valid issue about losing some processing speed due to encryption but that is insignificant in comparison to not being protected.

I would caution you on the fact that not seeing anyone on your network is not the only problem. The fact that someone can capture all of your traffic promiscuously is of much more importance. You may say that you are not sending anything of significance, but it only takes one time.

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We assume risks every day.

by nepenthe0 In reply to Suggestions on wireless c ...

Michael Kassner is advising what a security expert should advise: Don't take any chances.

I climb a 20' ladder to clean leaves out of my gutters. It's possible I could slip and fall. If I were to follow Mike's advice, I would never climb that ladder.

One weighs the risk against the odds. If you make regular backups (hopefully with an imaging application such as Norton Ghost), and you insist upon secured connections before disclosing identity information, I suspect your risks are low if you disable encryption.

So long as I feel physically competent to climb that ladder, I'll continue to service my own gutters. Should the time come when I have misgivings about my ability to do this safely, hopefully I'll have the prudence to delegate this chore...

Rick/Portland, OR

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Not that extreme I hope

I was merely trying to point out that minimal encryption even WEP is light years better than none at all. I come up with a very limited number of situations where no encryption is acceptable.

You mentioned about secured connections. I would like to learn more about what you consider secure connections. I have just posted two articles about security on public Wi-Fi networks. Which basically is what yours is.

If you note the on-line banking one, you'll see that open Wi-Fi access is the main attack avenue when attempting a Man in the Middle attack against an SSL/TSL connection.

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Regarding wireless security

by nepenthe0 In reply to Suggestions on wireless c ...

Mike -

I have read your posts, and they are excellent. When I first came across them, I pasted them into a Word document, converted to .pdf with Acrobat and archived in my Security folder.

It strikes me as an unnecessary gamble to disclose credit or personal information over a public wireless network. We totally agree about this.

Many folks use their notebooks for domestic convenience, aware that there is always the potential for espionage. Diplomats in foreign embassies must assume bugs in the walls, but they can usually relax their conditioned reserve within their own homes.

DanLM posted a problem with wireless connection. If disabling encryption helps resolve that problem, and he has no compelling need for it, that remains a viable option so long as he's aware of the potential for eavesdropping.

DanLM would be well advised to conduct commercial transactions and banking via hardwired connection. That said, if DanLM's own Wi-Fi network is reasonably isolated within a friendly environment, and DanLM is confident there are no intruders, unencrypted wireless connectivity confers faster data transfer rates, quicker connections, and fewer dropped connections.

If I had a business in a neighborhood where there were frequent burglaries, I would secure my establishment with window bars. But I don't like window bars - most folks don't. As the poet once said, Something there is that doesn't like a wall...

If DanLM's business is in a quiet neighborhood where the county sheriff rarely patrols, window bars would be pretty silly. I guess what I really mean is that the security measures employed should be realistically commensurate with the need.

Rick/Portland, OR

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I don't know about that

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Regarding wireless securi ...

I just had 5 GIG of Download stolen from my WiFi Access point well the ISP's at least. They provided a Netgear Cable Modem with WiFi and because they support the thing and not Netgear I promptly placed it on the right side of my preferred Security Model. Anyway some idiot cracked the SSID Security that comes standard on the Netgear Router and had a merry time. They failed to get into the main Network or even pickup anything from my Cisco WiFi just that Netgear thing with no Destructions. Which is Secure according to the ISP.

I'm currently waiting for the ISP to get back to me with their recommendations. Should prove interesting reading but in the mean time I've disabled the WiFi from their hardware. Seems that their Security Model leaves a bit to be desired and I now have something heavy to clout them over the head with when they next try to tell me how to do things. Anyway this is in a Domestic area with houses built in the 50's or early 60's some flats and 1 set of Townhouses that have been put up in the last 3 years or so. Can't get much quieter than that and I'll admit that it did take 3 months to have the theft which I expected immediately.

But even the Security Key standard is a 25 Digit Alpha Numeric String so may be it took a bit of time to crack by an inexperienced person. I'm not sure but as it's now closed down I don't expect any problems from now on.

As for Belkin stuff I just don't touch it at all so I'm not sure how well it works or doesn't but if their other products are anything to go by I wouldn't expect it to work well.

Dan if you are so close what's wrong with running a cable to the Desktop? It's a short run close by and much faster than any WiFi can ever hope to be without the security risks present with Large Data Transfers. I haven't actually used any of those USB Netgear adapters with Big Transfers and I haven't been overly happy with the 2 that I have used either but as the people who own them seem to be happy they must work to some extent. The one that I got with the Netgear Cable Modem hasn't been opened by me but I did give it to a person while their ISP replaced the one that broke and I'm told that it worked. But they are not my preferred WiFi interfacing device so I don't use them if I have something else available.

It's personal as the design is below spec in my books at least but the real reason is that the Aerial is just too small/wrong for my liking.

Lets see a CAT 5 Cable costs me about $10.00 for a 20 meter one the WiFi Adapter is considerable more expensive and slower so I don't use them at all for my main systems. I personally only have the Cisco here to test WiFi NB's when they are being given some free service after I have been given away by one of the kids or wife who willingly offers my services free to all their friends.

Any large transfers are done over a Wired LAN here and with all the customers that I have work the same way. With large transfers WiFi is way too slow for them to wait around looking at the computer all NB's,to move things around the LAN.

I tend to look at WiFi as easy and convenient to use but not necessarily the fastest available. If you can not run a cable it is convenient but no where near as fast as cable is. I'm interested to see what happens to 5 Home Installs that I have seen these are supplied by the ISP's as working out of the Box and Secure. At one of the places when I looked there where 12 WiFi Connections available in a residential area without flats. The only time I could in all honesty tell a client not to utilize Security on a WiFi LAN is 1 customer who lives on property and is a long way away from the road or nearest neighbor. The Signals expire long before you leave his property and he has coverage where he needs it. But it is hardly the norm he is the exception defiantly.


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