In 1999, when I worked as a service tech, I got a bunch of friends together, bought a couple boxes of Cat 5 Ethernet cable and wired the home my wife and I were building. We put about 20 network drops into the house - most of them upstairs and a couple on the main floor - it terminated in my basement. That basic setup has lasted me quite a while - but it didn’t take into account:
- Wireless of any sort - it was just starting to come out then.
- The amount of connected devices that currently need access to the Internet.
- The volume of data that we have moving around the house at any moment. (Netflix/Plex/gaming everywhere.)
Now, almost 15 years later my house network needs some loving:
- The network switch in the basement only has 2 x 100Mb ports - the other 6 are 10Mb. Time to upgrade!
- We have more than 25 devices that use the network on a daily basis - the vast majority of them are wireless.
- Where our main TV area is, I’ve run out of Ethernet ports so I had to install a small switch to handle the TV, Bluray, Xbox, Satellite and Apple TV.
- We often have unexplainable slowdowns on our wireless - and I don’t have the visibility into my own network to know why.
- Our wireless is provided by a single Time Capsule in the front of the house - in the back, the backyard and the basement, it’s pretty spotty.
- We have a Plex TV server that provides streaming to various locations in the house - sometimes it just doesn’t stream fast enough - and there’s no visible reason.
- We have a 100Mb/7Mb internet connection - and it’s time to have that available anywhere.
My goals for our home network are:
- Provide visibility into our network to help to figure out - what’s happening now - what is using the network. Where is my bandwidth going?
- Provide some basic services to our network - possibly with sovereign. (In the beginning, when I didn’t have 3 children I used a BSD or Linux server to provide network services - that stopped when I ran out of time to administer yet another box.)
- Provide better network coverage - into the backyard if possible - so that when it’s nice enough to be outside - we can still have network access when desired.
I already know that:
- I need a new switch. 16 port 1000Mb at a minimum. But are there decent - and not super expensive - ones that can give me meaningful usage stats?
- I need some sort of router that helps with network visibility. If I use a PC I will likely be able to get more visibility - but you never know.
- I likely need some sort of small home server. It needs the ability to add/replace failing and/or newer/bigger disks - installing the OS and other software will allow more flexibility - but it will be yet another thing to manage.
- I will need to create some sort of better wireless network - maybe extending it with a couple DD-WRT wireless routers.
Update: Saturday December 28, 2013
- Gigabit switch - check.
- Got a new Apple Airport Extreme installed in my living room. Better coverage and better placement.
- Have setup the Shaw router a little better and have simplified my network some more.
Still to do:
- Integrate my old Time Capsule into the network and extend the range.
- Setup a home server to hold all of our movies etc.
- Setup a firewall with some sort of Ultra compact PC.
- Get a Skydog.
What are you using to manage your home network?