Posted by dhilipkumar
- Mar 31, 2009, 06:27 PM
Big data transfers affect bandwidth
To prove the point, I set up my MacBook Pro to stream the Apple event while transferring a multigigabyte folder full of files from the iMac to my MacBook Pro. The stream played without a hitch until I began transferring files from the MacBook Pro to the base station's shared disk. On the Mini, which was transferring that movie file in the background, estimated data transfer times quadrupled. If you are working in a bandwidth-intensive environment, you're better off sticking to wired connections.
One of the main benefits of the Airport Extreme base station is that you can connect an external disk to it for Time Machine backups. (Apple's Time Capsule does the same thing, but with a built-in hard drive.) Since the MacBook Pro and the MacBook both use 802.11n, I let them run their first backups overnight. Both were finished by morning, having uploaded more than a hundred gigabytes worth of files wirelessly overnight.
The Mac Mini, on the other hand, took days to sludge through nearly 200GB of media files, and the Time Machine app frequently reported errors while backing up. Ultimately, it turned out that a couple of corrupt files refused to be copied, something I managed to figure out using the Console application to ferret out the problem. Removing the corrupt files from the backup finally resolved the glitch.
If you have 802.11g -- or even 802.11b -- devices, and you want them connected to your network without suffering from wireless slowdowns, Apple has a solution: The Airport Extreme includes three Ethernet ports on the back of the base station. (Your cable or DSL modem connects to a different Ethernet port labeled "WAN.") This allows you to plug a computer into a local network, at the same time allowing access to the shared disk and its partitions. The result is fast and easy file transfers to machines without wireless access.
It's also useful if someone brings over a computer with only a wired connection. Just connect it to the Airport Extreme with an Ethernet cable for quick access to the network.While setup is generally easy, not everything worked as it should without a little adjusting to the base station settings -- which is done through Airport Utility. I was having trouble getting the house iPhones to connect to the network, even though the computers were able to connect fine.
After launching Airport Utility (it's in the Utilities folder), I clicked on the "Wireless" tab and tried changing some of the settings. You can, for instance, give the network its own sectioned off 802.11n access point, change the broadcast channel, switch to a different multicast rate and reduce transmit power. None of the options made any difference. Neither did enabling interface robustness. My iPhone connectivity was sporadic at best.
Finally, I switched the Radio Channel selection from automatic to manual and chose channel 7. Voila! That fixed everything. Clearly, there's another device close to my house operating on the 2.4-GHz band, a common occurrence for those in apartments or condos. After the channel switch, my transfer speeds were great and connectivity was consistent for all my devices.