Low Connect Speed?


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Upgrade Network Speed  is it always a good idea? Is the technology of 1 GBPS ready for everyday use?

Is a upgrade network speed necessary?

How did I figure out that my network was getting too old?

New hardware. That is with all the upgrades I have been doing over the last year or two and one of the 'side effects' of these upgrades is the network interface cards (NIC) that are embedded in the newer motherboards or come with a laptop, and even the netbook.

That is they are all 1 Giga bit per second (GBPS) network interface cards.

My network was state of the art in 2003, that is the NIC's in all the computers were 100 MBPS, the Linksys 16 port switch is 100 MBPS, the Linksys router is 100 MBPS, every thing with the exception of the wireless access point are the old standard.

Adding one or two 1 GBPS NIC's to the mix didn't seem to cause any problems with the network.

Once I added two laptops, the netbook, and a new server (well a motherboard and two more NIC's) was when the network started to fail.

Now it is time to upgrade network speed to 1 GBPS ...

Even though I have all the NIC's protocol set for 100 MBPS and Full Duplex they seem to revert to 1 GBPS when under load.

To test my theory I transferred a 10 GB file from one computer to another, when the NIC's are set to 100/Full the switch operates as advertised when only two 1 GBPS NIC's are connected, if I connect another NIC set to Auto-negotiate the switch will start dropping connections. If I don't have any 1 GBPS NIC's connected the file will transfer with out errors and no dropped connections.

When I connect up eight 1 GBPS NIC's set for 100/Full and try to transfer a file over 500 Meg (such as a ghost image of a boot partition) it drops connections.

From my tests the Linksys Switch can handle the 1 GBPS NICs if there are two or less, but once you go over two then the switch starts to drop connections.

Time to upgrade network speed...

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If I didn't want to transfer large files I wouldn't have noticed this for sometime because the problems starts with files over 500 MB. Most of the files I have are smaller but part of the server back up was on a USB 3 drive and the new motherboards don't have a USB 3 port so I used my tower computer to transfer the backup files to the rebuilt server and that is when my network problems started.

Having had Cisco Linksys products for over a decade I decided to stick with Linksys for the new switch. However I could not find a 16 port switch. My choices were:

  • Five port and an eight port switch
  • Two eight port switches
  • A twenty-four port switch

I decided on the two eight port switches Linksys SE2800 R. I really only need ten ports, but with a five and an eight that leaves me with one extra port. (When you 'chain' two switches together you use one port on each switch to connect them together).

I didn't go for the twenty-four port switch because the extra eight ports would have cost twice of what one eight port switch costs.

I also decided to go with Cat6 network cables for those 1 GBPS NIC's I am using instead of the normal Cat5e that I have. It will also mean I can clean up my network cable spider web of wires in the storage area. It gets cleaned up when I move things around but from year to year little changes just happen and then it starts to become a spider web of wires.

After about two weeks my problem came back, I traced it down to the "cross over cable" I had used to connect or chain the two new switches together. Normally a switch will have markings on the case which port to use for the crossover cable, these don't and Linksys.com doesn't have much in the way of documentation about the switches. Their tech support told me that:

  1. Use the 8th port on both swathes to connect the crossover cable.
  2. There are no user settings to change, in other words I can't turn off the Auto-negotiate and set the port speed I want for each port.

What I had to do was separate the 100 MBPS connections from the 1 GBPS connections by using one switch as 100 MBPS NIC's only and the other for my 1 GBPS NIC's. It works but not the way I want.

With two eight port switches I have four extra ports.

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Only upgrade network speed if you are experiencing problems with dropped connections.

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