Home network assistance

grantsteve

Well-known Member
Apologies for another thread on this subject.

In an effort to use some downtime efficiently I would like to rationalise / tidy up my home network which has grown on an ad-hoc basis and been thrown together in to something that functions but its messy. I'm hoping someone can help.

I have a Virgin router which is in my office. Wifi coverage from this is poor and so I have a mesh network using TP Link Deco M5s. There are 4 of these around the house. The master Deco is wired to the Virgin router. I have tried to set the Virgin router to modem only mode but that seemed to take the whole wireless network down so it runs as per factory defaults but nothing is connected to the wireless network is has created.

Also plugged in to the router are a Hue hub and a Sonos Bridge. My Sonos network runs on Sonos Mesh.

I have a Timecapsule used to back up my Macbook Pro. This is wired to another Deco which sits under the TV and is availabe on the wireless network. Backups from the Macbook run wirelessly. There is an Apple TV3, a Virgin V6 box and a Sony TV wired in to the Timecapsule but I assume there is no advantage in doing so as presumbably there are only connected to a wireless network.

I have a Mac Mini on the way which I want to set up as a media server to feed to the TVs around the house and be able to access remotely. Once set up I was proposing to run this headless in the office and manage it via my Macbook. I would also like to get the Timecapsule in to the office to tidy things up.

I have ordered an 8-port Netgear gigabit switch to help connect everything in the office but am not sure where I need to wire it in the chain. Do I do Router > Deco > Switch and then > Timecapsule / Mac Mini / Hue / Sonos or does the switch come straight off the router and the Deco in to the switch with the others?

Any guidance gratefully received. Thanks
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
"Modem mode" on a SOHO typically shuts down everything except the modem and sometimes only one of the LAN ports, thence you need another router to do everything your ISP router used to do.

It's simplest to leave your ISP doing all the routing/firewall/NAT/DHCP/etc. If you don't want to use it's Wi-Fi, it's rarely more than a couple of clicks in the admin screens to disable the Wi-Fi radios and leave everything else intact.

Thence, you can connect switches and additional AP's downstream of your router in pretty much any configuration you like as long as you don't make a "loop" in the topology.

Some of the so-called "mesh" and "whole home" Wi-Fi systems are design so the the "first" AP functions as a forklift replacement for your ISP router and hence all the mucking about with modem mode and connectivity requirement. However, a lot of them will let you turn this off and run all the AP's as basic Wi-Fi AP's and leave your ISP router routeing/firewall/NAT/DHCP. Looks like Deco supports this (they seem to call it "Access Point" mode) and would be the best way for you to operate (see link following.)

Thence is doesn't matter whether the "first" Deco AP is cabled direct to your ISP router or to a switch daisy chained off your router - as long as it's cabled in somewhere. If all your other AP's are cabled (which would be better) rather than using Wi-FI backhaul links, again it probably doesn't matter whether node 2/3/4/etc are cabled to each other or your router/switch. Just don't make any "loops" in the topology.

 
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grantsteve

Well-known Member
Thanks for the prompt response.

Assuming I do Router > Switch and then have the Deco / Mac Mini / Timecapsule / Sonos / Hue, will the Mini and TC be available on the wireless network?
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Not sure about SONO and Hue (I'm a data networking guy) but with a fleet of managed AP's with only a single router at the "edge" connecting to your ISP, everything will be "on the same network" (same IP "subnet" as it's known in the jargon) which means everything should be able to "talk" to everything else (at least in IP networking terms) irrespective of whether they are physically connected using wired or Wi-Fi.

The telltale for this is the IP addresses your devices are using. Most SOHO's use 192.168.X.Y - if "X" is the same for all devices, then they are all part of the same "subnet" and anything not working isn't an "IP problem" and unlikely to be an "ethernet" or "Wi-Fi" issue. (There's myriad other reasons why they may not want to talk to each other!)

If you had multiple "routers" in the network, then you would partition your network in multiple subnets and part of the design paradigm of IP routing is that devices on separate subnets don't "talk" to each other across the routers (unless/until, you "setup" the routers to do so.) Again the telltale of whether you've partitioned your network into multiple subnets is the IP addresses - if groups of clients have differnet "X" (or even entirely different IP addresses) then you're split your network in two (or more.)

For a SOHO network, it's best to keep it simple and have everything on a single subnet so that everything can communicate with everything else without a load of tedious router configuration work. (and many SOHO routers, lack the ability to configure custom routes.)

"Routers" sit at the "edge" of networks (subnets) connecting subnets to other subnets to create a (small "i") inter-network, not in the "middle" bossing it.

So in SOHO it's simplest and easiest to set up and maintain if you have one router and the "edge" connecting your network to rest of the world via your ISP and have everything internally on the same single subnet. Nice and easy, virtually nothing to "configure" or "go wrong."

About the only reason to deviant might be if you want a separate "guest" network sequested away from your main one, but in multi-AP deployments that's a whole new can of worms!

SONOS might be doing something different, but I don't know SONOS.
 
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D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
Great response from @mickevh. To fill the 'other bits' in SONOS and HUE can just connect to the switch. The Hue Hub is just a Zigbee Gateway for connecting Philips Hue and other Zigbee devices to. The Sonos Bridge is just a separate dedicated Wireless Access Point dedicated to creating a SonosNet wifi network, exclusively for Sonos to use. Just be aware that if the Sonos Bridge is set to the same Channels as your Mesh Network it can interfere with your wifi. Most SONOS devices no longer need a Sonos Bridge and can use the regular wifi in your house.
 

grantsteve

Well-known Member
Thanks both. I am getting in a bit lost in the technical jargon, but I'm clear with regards to the Sonos and Hue hubs. I can just connect them to the switch and leave them to do their thing. With the Mac Mini and the Timecapsule I want them to be able to accessible over the wireless network (for file transfers and backups, etc) but, in the case of the Mini, would want it to also access and be accessible from the internet.

If I connect the Mini to the switch with a wired connection for optimum d/l and u/l speeds can I turn the wireless connection off but it still be accessible on the wireless network to take a connection from my Macbook, for example?

Similarly, with the Timescapsule if I wire it to the switch will the disk be accessbile over the wireless network or will it have to be set up to join the wireless network created by the Decos? For info, it is one of the older style Timecapsules with network ports on the rear and it can create its own wireless network / act as a AP to an existing wireless network.
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
Yes to both questions, both will be accessible over wifi if you connect them to the switch and turn off wifi on both devices.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
For what it's worth my network is this. DSL --> Openreach Modem --> cable to Apple AirPort Extreme (insert router of choice here)which provides wifi --> cable to Netgear managed 8 port switch. Cable connected to the first switch are a Hue bridge and Synology NAS. Cable connected to other switches elsewhere in the house where there are clusters of devices such as TV, Receiver etc. Also cable connected to each remote switch is an Apple Airport of some sort just acting as a wifi extender to cover the house. That's all one subnet so all devices can see each other and devices that need to be are visible from the web. It's very reliable and very low maintenance.
 

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