Sniper's Paradise-Bandwidth Management for Home Networks

Sharing your internet connection

Home Network

If you are sharing your home internet connection, or plan to, you will probably run out into some problems. There's always the annoying roommate who uses up all bandwidth to download music using p2p (peer to peer), or a neighbor who browses streaming video sites like YouTube, causing you to lag out in your favorite online game.

The best solution to this kind of problems is to use a router which is capable of QoS (Quality of Service). Basically, this kind of router controls your traffic (it's called "traffic shaping"), prioritizing certain types of it, and making sure everyone gets a "fair share" of bandwidth.  Of course, if you are the administrator, you can make your share a bigger one.

Picking the best router for your network 

The first step is picking the router with the best QoS capabilities. I highly recommend WRT54GL from Linksys. You can install third party Linux-based firmware on it, which gives it some features and flexibility only expensive, commercial devices have. Some ASUS products are good also.

Linksys-Cisco WRT54GL Wireless-G Broadband Router  (Compatible with Linux) Linksys WRT54GL Wireless-G Broadband Router

Powerful little device with wireless data links and 4 Ethernet port switch. Perfect for your home networking needs.

Choosing the best firmware for WRT54GL router

While QoS on default Linksys firmware works pretty well, it lacks customization. Also using p2p programs will make your web pages time out, because default firmware sets a very low connection limit. Installing any third party firmware from this list fixes the problem.

Highly recommended firmware which takes QoS configuration to the next level. When it comes to setting up traffic priorities, Tomato can do almost anything. Great and easy-to-use web interface. Has a built-in bandwidth monitor.
Popular firmware that is based on OpenWRT kernel rather than Linksys software. Has many features, especially useful for wireless users. From my experience, it's QoS doesn't work that well though.
A firmware meant for advanced users, it is said to have one of the best QoS scripts around. It used to have only a command shell, but now some people created X-WRT, a web interface project for OpenWRT.

Configuring your router 

Once you have everything you need for your home network, there's only the configuration left to do. Creating and perfecting your QoS ruleset can take you a few minutes to several days, depending on your experience, needs, and the firmware you chose. However, it will save you lots of time and nerves in the future.

For starters, you'll want to give higher priority to programs that suffer from insufficient bandwidth: be it games, voice communication or simple web browsing. Give less priority to file downloads and p2p programs. Most custom firmware has L7 filters, and simply lets you choose applications to prioritize from a list. Alternatively, you can prioritize traffic coming from a specific port, or IP adress.

That's it - enjoy! If you still get lag, tweak your settings until you don't have to worry about slow internet as well. It's all about how you divide and prioritize the web traffic! Your regular web browsing, for example, doesn't need much bandwidth, but requires a high priority; and it's the vice versa for file downloads.

For more information, check homepages of according firmware, or visit the Linksys forums.

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