Question

Horrid wireless speed issues...intermittent and unexplained.

Hello all... This is my first post, and Im going to start it off by saying that Im somewhat new to messing with wireless networks. Not new to having them, or setting them up on a basic level...but new to trying to diagnose a problem and to possibly having to tweak things to make it right. I want to apologize for this being long too...Im sure it will be.

First some back ground on my set up. I was running a cheaper Netgear router and a comcast rented modem. I had a wired desktop hooked to the router. My wireless devices consist of a Dell Inspiron 1501 laptop, and a Dell Vostro 1000 laptop...about the same age. They both have a Dell 1490 Dual Band wireless card in them.

When I lived in my apt, everything seemed to work just fine. Then I moved into my house. All of the equipment is in the same room. I immediatly started having wireless issues. Connection was no problem. But speeds were down around .1-.4 Mbps.

So I bought a new Netgear D300 router with Gigabit ports. I also bought my own modem to get away from renting from comcast. Its a Motorola Surfboard, basically the same one that Comcast provides. Everything worked great out of the box. The wired PC gets 10-12 Mbps consistently with 0 packet loss and low ping times. And the laptops were working.

Then...all of a sudden...my wireless download speeds shot back down to an almost unusable level. In fact...it is unusable. Pretty sure my old Netscape dial up was faster. The wired PC still gets great speed....so Im assuming my modem is ok. After a few days, the wireless started to work again...then just recently dropped back off. I thought the first problems were maybe just a fluke.

If I connect to my neighbors open wireless...my laptop will magically work fine. I.E. get almost the same download speeds as my wired PC. If I switch back to my wireless network...I lose speed.

Here's what Ive done. I recently did a fresh install of Windows 7 on the Inspiron, and all seemed fine until this weekend. Ive done full resets on both the modem and router. Ive killed all other electronics in the room that could cause issues. Ive run diagnostics. Everything I can think of.

Im currently using WPA2 security...which worked at the start, so I dont understand how that would cause issues now. Even my Windows Phone is showing slower speeds when using my wifi... I was going to blame my older laptop's wireless card...but since the new phone has issues too, there has to be something else.

I dont even know if I provided enough info for anyone to help me out here...Im just at a loss. It goes from working great, to hardly at all without any changes. Both laptops experience the problem together... But they are hardly ever even turned on at the same time.

Any ideas or things to try? If you need more info, I can get it. I just need to know what you need!

Thanks in advance!

Justin

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Answer
(NT) Most common? Channel interference. Try changing channels.
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Channel Change...

At first, the channel was set to auto. I actually downloaded net stumbler, and found a couple others on that channel, so I changed it to something in the middle. Might have been ch. 9. It didnt seem to help. However, now that Im thinking about it...Im not actually sure if I did a full reset after changing the channel. I actually feel kind of dumb for not doing that now. That will be the first thing I try when I get home then.

Thanks!

J.

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Ok..tried more stuff..

Well...another frustrating evening.

First thing I did when I got home was to completely reset the router. Start from scratch. The next thing I did was update the router's firmware, with Netgear's latest version for my model. All of this went without a hitch.

Upon connecting, with no security or anything enabled, the laptop seemed to be working fine. So I let it go a little bit, and then eventually enabled WEP. I was using WPA2 for the longest time...over 2 years without issue...but thought Ide try WEP just for testing. Again, everything seemed fine.

However...not too much longer, sure enough, my speeds dropped way off. Then came back.... Then dropped off. I could literally run speedtest.net 5 times and 2 out of 5 would be good speeds. The rest horrific. All the while, my wired PC had great speeds. So Im pretty sure my cable, modem, and wired connection are good to go.

So I downloaded a net stumbler type program, and saw that there were about 6 other SSID's listed. I was on channel 1. The rest were on 6 and 11. So, I changed the channel to 9. Reset everything... And again, it appeared to be working. I even moved the router away from the entertainment center (TV, desktop pc, xbox 360) and it didnt seem to make any difference.

A short while later...back to ultra poor performance. As a test, I wired my laptop to the router, and sure enough, blazing speeds. I ended the night completely frustrated with the whole deal and just shut everything down.

I found a thread on a Dell forum, where a guy was having issues connecting with a 1490 card, and he changed a bunch of settings and said it fixed it. I might just try it, they are all settings for the card, not the router. My other options are to 1) go to staples/best buy and ask questions...or having someone come out and look at my set up. or 2) buy a wireless adapter dongle and see if its just an issue with the 1490 card... That wouldnt explain why my phone seems to slow down along with the laptops....but I guess for an experiment it would tell me a lot.

J.

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Ok, for a test. No WIFI.

In the router turn off the radio and get wired. If that works that points to an aging router or a wifi laptop card issue.

To sniff this out I take the laptop to some wifi hotspots and if it works without flaw, back to the router and swap it out for a test run.
Bob

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Thanks for the suggestion

Bob. Ive tested the laptop on the router when wired. With the wireless turned off. Everything works fine.

As for aging router...its brand new. I just got it 2 weeks ago, and it worked perfectly out of the box. This problem I have now, is a problem Ive had before, that seemed to clear itself up. I was thinking it was a fluke occurance, however its now back with a vengence.

I plan to check the laptop at a wireless access point that I have here at work. However, the laptop works fine off of my neighbors wireless network. Which is why Im so confused. They have an unsecured network, so Im guessing that they havent really messed with any other settings in their router. Thats telling me they are using an out of the box solution from Netgear (according to net stumbler). So Im baffled as to why I cant get my network to function.

And...its worth noting, that this problem really only cropped up when I moved into the house. Until then, I never had any issues with the laptops, or my wireless network set up. And I lived in an apt building, with a LOT more wireless networks around. It could be that my laptop's card is just on the fritz...but my wife's laptop suffers also. And so does my brand new Windows Phone 7. Its very obvious that its slow. 3G speeds are destroying the WiFi performance wise.

I just dont understand why it works great one minute, then fails to work correctly soon after. Something is getting fouled up along the way.

J.

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No mystery here.

Wifi is in "open space" where it can be interfered with. It can be by accident or by purpose as someone is trying those wifi crack programs. And even then the person who runs that may not know as some trojans do that.

There are other issues that I did dismiss since it works wired such as the DNS (I'm using GoogleDNS) but there is that firewall in some routers but I can't find a Netgear D300.

If that's a Dlink D300, the US Dlink site didn't list it so I can't offer any insight into possible settings.
Bob

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Just FYI...the router is

a Netgear D300...and the part number is WNR3500L.

I didnt think about hacker programs or trojans. But it makes me think, if its affecting my set up, why not my neighbors. I live in a twin by the way...so when I say neighbor, I mean the person on the other side of my wall. All other SSID's are from surrouding homes. Not a tightly packed area either.

I think my next step is to talk to a tech. I got the router at Staples, so Im going to start there. Im willing to bet its something simple. I am def still open to any suggestions, and Ill be sure to post up if I find a solution so it doesnt stay open ended.

Thanks again!

J.

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I own and am using a WNR3500 this very moment.
http://documentation.netgear.com/wnr3500/enu/202-10305-01/index.htm or
http://www.netgear.com/service-provider/products/routers-and-gateways/fast-ethernet-routers-gateways/WNR3500.aspx

Yours is at:
http://www.netgear.com/home/products/wirelessrouters/work-and-play/WNR3500L.aspx

What firmware version is this at and which rev is the model (they seem to have 3 revs of the hardware.)

-> Just sharing. My router setup is FACTORY DEFAULTS, changed the SSID to a simple less than 8 characters then WPA for security. It hung a few times on WPA2 so I moved back a notch.
Bob
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Yup thats the one!

I just upgraded to the firmware listed on Netgear's site. Version 1.2.2.44. As for the revision of the model...I didnt think I saw one. I see there is a v2 and v3...but mine is just the WNR3500L... I will certainly double check that when I get home.

As for settings that I changed, all I did was change the SSID the same as you, and set up WEP.

Thanks for the links! I gave consideration to WRT-dd'ing the router...but decided that I better not dive into that. Not sure it would really help me out anyway since I dont have the skill to go in and really tweak things.

J.

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WEP is cracked in 60 seconds today and

The tool that does it hijacks the MAC address and causes all sorts of issues to be reported. I can not help such networks as they are broken. That is, why should it work well?

(sorry if this upset anyone.)
Bob

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I appreciate the help Bob!

However, I dont think hacking is my issue. This problem is beyond that. It happens whether I have security enabled or not. I highly doubt anyone is trying to hack my connection at this point. Its not even super fast. I also dont have anything on my pcs that would be available or dangerous for others to see. Changing my security is just a temporary thing, to help diagnose my problem. If I find the root of my issue, Ill be reinstating WPA or WPA2 if possible.

Unless I was hacked the SECOND I moved in and plugged in my equipment for the first time, then this is not relavent to my issue.

I actually spoke with the tech's at Staples for a while yesterday. And they had no new info for me to try other than using GoogleDNS. Which...I understand it helps speed things up. But its not going to take my speed from .2Mbps to 10-15Mbps. I tried it anyway with no change.

My last resorts are a post I made on Netgear's forums, and the phone call Im going to make to Netgear's tech support tonight. Which will probably end with me being more frustrated than anything else. Whats worse is, Im past my return period at Staples, so even if I wanted to try a new router, Ide have to eat the cost...which I cant.

J.

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Or you could change to WPA for a test.

I tried to be as gentle as I could about WEP. The problems it has are such that if you did any network support you learn to distance yourself or not give any assurance when that or no security is used.
Bob

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Answer
Ok OK...

I guess Im not understanding why my security settings would have anything to do with the router working as it should. Ive tried WPA2... Ive tried WPA. All of them had the same issues. I realize I need to set up security, and as soon as I know my network is working, it will be the first thing I do. But to rule it out as a problem...I went with WEP as it seems tot cause the least amount of issues.

This is not a security based problem. Something is not jiving between my router and my hardware...ANY of my hardware. Not just my laptops.

If it cant work without security...adding security isnt going to change anything.

Its starting to sound like a common problem with the WNR3500L... And possibly with Netgear routers in general. I learned this from browsing the openWRT, myopenrouter, and Netgear forums. So I guess Ill try a few more things and then

I mean I really appreciate the help...but Im not sure why this turned into a WEP debate haha. And why that would stop you from helping someone. Would it change things if I told you that Im use WPA2 and still having the same issues? Would you have more input to my specific, original problem?

At this point Im probably going to try a different router I think. Netgear's customer service was no help. Hopefully Staples will work with me on the return since its outside of their return period.

J.

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No debate at all.

If you follow many discussions or get out and setup a lot of networks you learn to not support WEP anywhere.

You are more than welcome to try that again.

Sorry if it felt like a debate,
Bob

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No worries!

I really dont have much experience setting up wireless networks that require more attention that just plugging things in and making minor adjustments. Because Ive never had to do anything other than plug it in and set up security haha. Which is why this is giving me so much grief. No one seems to know the actual cause of this problem.

Im going to try a couple different driver version for my wireless card. If that doesnt work, Im going to try to swap routers. If they wont let me...well...then I dont know what Ill do. Live with it I guess.

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So why can't you try a secure setting?

If you are going to the trouble of drivers, why not WPA2? It takes me about 5 minutes to change it and I don't have to reboot most machines.
Bob

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I have tried...

I have used most of the security settings. As I said before. I was using WPA2. I reduced it to WPA...and finally to WEP, just to try them all out. Im running WPA2 right this second.

Would running WPA2 vs WEP make a difference in my download performance? I was under the impression it would only affect security...but I wouldnt really know for sure.

For SOME unknown reason, last night, wireless started to work again. Then today, it wasnt working. I reset everything, and its been working for about 4 hours now, so I turned my WPA2 back on.

I still have no real resolution to this issue...I would probably put money down at this point that its going to slow down on me before the nights over with.

I decided against the drivers, because its not just the laptops that have issues...my phone suffers also. So drivers wouldnt explain the phone issue.

I was dead set on trying to take the router back to try a different one...but now its working. So Im holding off. If it gives me trouble one more time, thats going to be my next action.

J.

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Odd comment about "download speed."

Maybe you are running torrents and I can't tell. There's some lessons about that which we can go over but for such you learn to get wired and forget wifi. The long explanation is too long for me to type out here but it's a well known problem when torrents are involved.
Bob

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Exact same symptoms after AT&T router upgrade

Just to let you know you are not the only one, we're getting exactly the same intermittent symptoms on similar model Dell laptops after my AT&T router was swapped out a few months ago. Change to channel 10 helped for now (using http://homeportal with the RESCAN option on the router controls). I also intermittently lost WIFI adapter connections on our DISH receiver which may have cleared after router reboot. I will monitor this thread for any additional clues.

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