State of Home Network

We’ve been living in this house since late 2006 and the home network hasn’t changed much during that time. The whole house is wired and there are at least two network ports in every room so the basic infrastructure is good. You can see the current state of the network in the following picture.

Home Network

Just few years ago only wireless devices were my phone and old laptop that wasn’t used much. Now we have three tablets and phones plus laptops when we work remotely. Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services are mostly used from wireless devices or Xbox. I’m pretty much the only one watching streams on my desktop machine when I’m catching up with my RSS feeds or chatting in skype.

I’m currently planning on upgrading some parts of the home network. Those have been marked with red/orange color and discussed in detail in the following chapters.

This is really old wireless router that I’m using as an access point. It only supports 802.11g so the maximum speed in practice is around 20 Mbit/sec. I plan on replacing it with ac standard access point.

Netgear WNR3500v2 Router

I bought this one five years ago after the previous router died. I’m running open source firmware on it (Tomato Shibby) and it has served me well. Unfortunately if I turn on QOS on and start to download something at full speed the router just can’t keep up as the CPU is quite slow. The end result is that browsing the web is impossible. So I just used to manually turn the QOS on when I’m gaming.

The other problem is that even with the QOS enabled the router still suffers from Buffer Bloat. In practice this means that if someone is watching Netflix the ping increases from 10ms to 100-300ms which makes online gaming experience really bad. You can use dslreports speedtest to test how much buffer bloat you have.

10/100 Mbit Switch

Another old device. This is low priority since there are only two devices behind it. The Popcorn Hour A-110 which only has 10/100 Mbit port and Elisa IPTV box.

###Home Server

My home server has been in service for almost six years. It is running Windows Server 2008 R2 (Intel Core 2 Duo E8400@3.0GHz, 8GB, 3x2TB). I use it mainly for longer downloads and as a file storage (backups, music etc.).

I would like to use plex to stream video/music to any device. Plex handles this by transcoding the media into the format device understands. E.g. if the tablet doesn’t know how to handle DTS sound it is transcoded to Dolby Digital or stereo. This is done live without any user interaction. The problem for me is that transcoding requires faster CPU. My server can barely handle single 720p stream and nothing else.

I have two external USB2 hard drives which I use to store data for which I don’t have space in the server. I would like to get rid of them because it is just easier not having to deal with extra devices you have to turn on/off manually.

Switches

As I said the whole house is wired. Every room has two or more network ports and there is a small cabinet downstairs where you can put your router and connect each room to it. This way you can get online from any room in the house.

Unfortunately the cabinet is so small that you can fit a router in there but that’s about it. As consumer grade routers have only four ports it means in practice I can have four devices. This is why I have extra switches in those rooms where there are multiple devices. I have to find a really small 16-port switch or do some remodeling.

The Plan

First I will update the wireless access point and the router. Those are relatively cheap and all you have to do is to configure them. Next I would like to update the home server and run plex on it. It would be easier to stream music/video to any device. I might even get rid of the Popcorn Hour media players since plex is available for some TVs and for Xbox. Finally I would like to get rid of the extra switches.