Gigabit card only connecting at 100mbps? Here’s the fix.

Gigabit card only connecting at 100mbps? Here’s the fix.

I finished a modernization project where I replaced all of my 100-megabit gear with gigabit-capable gear, including my cabling and router and access points. But after I replaced my last 100-megabit switch, I found we had two Windows 7 desktops refusing to speed up. Here’s how to fix a gigabit card only connecting at 100mbps.

First, if you know you’re not connecting at gigabit, you probably already know how to do this. But if not, here’s how to check your network speed in Windows 10.

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Check your network speed in Windows 10

Check your network speed in Windows 10

Sometimes you need to check your network speed in Windows 10. The information buried a bit but you can get there in about three clicks. When you need to know the raw specs of your network connection, here’s how to do it.

Depending on your network driver, it was sometimes easier to get this in previous versions of Windows. Sometimes all you had to do was hover over your network connection icon. But this method also works in Windows 7, even if you have a featureless network driver.

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Wiring an old house for Ethernet

Wiring an old house for Ethernet can be challenging but offers real benefits. Wired Ethernet is faster and more reliable than wireless, so devices that have a wired connection can take advantage of it. Having wired connections also allows you to distribute wireless access points throughout your house for better, faster coverage.

So you even if you’re a heavy wireless user, there’s a lot to gain from having good wired connections. Believe it or not, you can do it with simple tools and very little tearing into your walls.

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Make your own null modem cable

Make your own null modem cable

One of my coworkers needed to make a null modem cable last week, and most of the sites he found made it far, far too difficult. Here’s how to make your own null modem cable.

Most of the time, you only need three pins. In fact, I never needed more than three pins, no matter what I was connecting. Usually, a 3-wire null modem cable is more than sufficient.

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DD-WRT as an access point

There’s an addition on the back of our house, probably added in the 1970s or 80s, where the wi-fi reception is exceptionally poor. Something about the walls makes it tricky, and I also suspect we get some interference from the neighbors behind us. I solved the problem with a cheap router running DD-WRT as an access point. Read more

How to be a hero next Christmas (or your next family get-together)

My mother in law didn’t have wifi set up, but she picked up a smart TV this year, so she asked me if I could help her with it. So I picked up a D-Link DIR-615 on sale, brought it with me and set up wi-fi securely (hints: set the SSID to whatever time it happens to be, disable WPS, disable WEP and WPA, and use WPA2 with a long password with some numbers and symbols in it) and once it seemed to be working right, I put her TV and laptop on it. Then, as other relatives trickled in, they asked me for the wireless key. Soon the air was full of Androids and Apples chattering away on wireless.

She said she never realized how often we use our smartphones and tablets. Any time a question came up, someone whipped out a device and looked up the answer.It was nice, and it was a cheap project. Grab a name-brand wireless router on sale, grab a couple of extra CAT5e cables from Monoprice just in case, and you can be a hero for about the cost of dinner for two at any restaurant with sit-down table service. Maybe less.

While you’re ordering stuff from Monoprice, it probably wouldn’t hurt to pick up a small assortment of cheap USB and HDMI cables too, just in case anyone gave an electronic gadget to someone else and didn’t realize gadgets are more likely to come with batteries than with cables these days.

A shortcut for wiring your house with Ethernet

As convenient as wireless is, wireless will never match the security, speed, and reliability of wired Ethernet. I ran some wired Ethernet jacks in mid-2009 and have no regrets, but on my last trip to Lowe’s, I spied a nifty shortcut for wiring: an Ethernet coupler that plugs into a standard keystone jack. They were expensive, but looked like a good way to cut out the most consuming part of wiring a house. I looked online, and they cost less than $2 from Amazon. Read more

If you’ve been delaying upgrading your network, keep delaying

If you’ve been procrastinating about deploying 450-megabit (802.11n) wi-fi to your house, I have a reason for you to procrastinate a while longer: Gigabit wireless (802.11ac).

It’s only about twice as fast as its predecessor, which pales next to the 8x improvement 802.11n provided over 802.11g, but if you’re wanting to stream HD media through your house, you’ll notice the difference.
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Wiring your house without tearing into walls

Tearing into existing walls to thread CAT5 through them isn’t a chore that I think anyone relishes. It’s not too bad if you have an unfinished basement and can do everything in interior walls, but the further you deviate from that, the worse the job gets. One of my computers sits where it is solely because it was easy for me to get CAT5 there.

I stumbled across a novel solution to the problem. It isn’t cheap, and I want to emphasize that I haven’t tried it. But it’s possible that I will at some point. It’s called Flatwire.
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