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DLink Home Networking

D-Link is no stranger to networking and is quickly outpacing its competitors with its many networking offerings. Wireless networking and fast data transfers are a must in the world of broadband internet access and specifically homes with multiple PCs. As many power users know speed can be the bane of our existence. So, today we look at a complete D-Link network solution, from a wireless router, to a wireless G Xtreme network adapter, to a gigabit switch and gigabit PCI network adapters.

Dlink Products

Product Specs:

Due to the amount of hardware, I chose to link D-Link’s product specs in case you are interested. I will talk about the features I feel are the most interesting to me.

DI-624 AirPlus Xtreme G High-Speed 2.4GHz Wireless 108Mbps Router
High-Speed 2.4GHz 802.11g Wireless Cardbus Adapter
DGS-1005D 5 Port 10/100/1000 Desktop Switch
DGE-530T GigaExpress 10/100/1000Mbps PCI Network Adapter

The D-Link AirPlus Xtreme G Router is a 2.4GHz 802.11g wireless broadband router, packed with features for the home user, including many advanced firewall protections. It includes 4 auto sensing MDI/MDIX 10/100 LAN ports. Included are several methods of mounting the wireless router to a wall or stacking it with D-Link devices.

Dlink Router

The set up is easy! Using the web based configuration menu is a snap, as you are greeted with a setup wizard that takes you through a 5 step process of setting up the basics of your router. The router is completely configurable from the Web Based GUI interface. It is easy to navigate through the many available options. I have listed in detail some of the most interesting options below.

Dlink Stuff

Applications:

One option I was very impressed with is the Applications feature. Many applications require ports to be open for communications and the DI-624 is completely configurable to accommodate virtually any application. There are several apps set up as default, however they are disabled when the router is first powered on. So you have an application that you are not sure what ports need to be open? Well D-Link’s support site has several apps listed on their site as well as a link to a web page that lists tons of apps and associated ports.

Dlink Side

Filters:

Another feature I really like is Filters. There are 4 types of filters:

IP Filters
MAC Filters
URL Blocking
Domain Blocking

IP Filters are used to deny LAN IP addresses access to the internet. You can also deny specific port number or all ports for the specific IP Address. Also you can schedule a time for when the filter becomes active, like during bedtime hours for the kiddys.

MAC Filters can be used to allow access to the internet for only the listed specific MAC addresses or to deny access to the internet for only the listed specific MAC addresses.

Dlink Rear

URL Blocking can be used to block access to url’s with a list of blocked words. If a URL contains any of the blocked words the site will not be displayed. I was very interested in this, so I created a test webpage on my website with SEXY in the URL and then added sexy to my block list. Like a charm, the page did not display. Be careful though, as I was disabling and enabling the filter, I found a small loophole. If the page is cached in the pc’s cached temporary internet files, it will still display, only the new content will not be loaded. After I cleared my cache, the page no longer displayed. Clear the kid’s internet files before turning on this feature.

Domain Blocking allows users to access all domains except Blocked Domains or denies all users access to all domains except Permitted Domains. Nice feature when you have young kids and an always-on connection.

Wireless Modes:

Dlink Settings

Super G

What is Super G? It is a feature designed to increase throughput in an 802.11G network. It consists of 4 separate features including Dynamic Packet Bursting, Fast Frames, Hardware Compression and Encryption, and Multi-Channel 108 Mbps Turbo Mode. Packet Bursting basically reduces the amount of wait time required between data packets. Fast Frames increased the number of bits sent per data frame. So packet bursting sends more packets in a given time and fast frames sends more data per frame which means these two work together. Data Compression and Encryption is supported in the Super G hardware. The hardware compresses the data before transmission and decompresses it after reception. So this feature increased data throughput by compression. Multi-Channel Turbo Mode takes two 54Mbps wireless channels and sends data over each, effectively creating a 108Mbps link.

For the best performance, all devices must be Super G enabled.

Disabled - Standard 802.11g support, no enhanced capabilities.

Super G without Turbo - Capable of Packet Bursting, FastFrames, Compression, and no Turbo mode.

Super G with Dynamic Turbo - Capable of Packet Bursting, FastFrames, Compression, and Dynamic Turbo. This setting is backwards compatible with non-Turbo (legacy) devices. Dynamic Turbo mode is only enabled when all devices on the wireless network are Super G with Dynamic Turbo enabled.

Super G with Static Turbo - Capable of Packet Bursting, FastFrames, Compression, and Static Turbo. This setting is not backwards compatible with non-Turbo (legacy) devices. Static turbo mode is always on and is only enabled when all devices on the wireless network are Super G with Static Turbo enabled.

I noticed faster performance when in Static Turbo mode. When I backup my laptop over the network, I have always jacked into the Wired network, due to the time it takes to backup. However, I was able to use the Super G mode and my backup time was actually bearable. I also noticed the change in channel choice. If Super G is enabled it sets the channel to 6 but it actually uses another channel in addition to 6, which allows increased bandwidth.

Log:

I was very impressed with the logging feature of the DI-624 router. It can be configured to capture everything or just specific event types. And the best thing is the log is automatically emailed to you (using your isp’s pop3 server and your email settings) when it is full or can be manually forced to email the log. Here are a few events that I captured to show how it works: note my dst ip has been changed for obvious reasons:

Sep/22/2004 18:13:44
DHCP Request success 12.25.65.195
Sep/22/2004 18:13:44
DHCP Request 12.25.65.195

Sep/22/2004 19:13:46
Unauthorized wireless PC try to connected 00-90-96-61-B3-84

Sep/22/2004 19:06:49
Drop UDP packet from WAN src:12.75.193.52:26713 dst:12.25.65.195:1028 Rule:
Default deny

Sep/22/2004 18:15:49
Drop ICMP packet from WAN src:68.0.32.53:8 dst:12.25.65.195:0 Rule: Default deny

Sep/22/2004 20:41:03
Drop TCP packet from WAN src:68.42.69.29:3398 dst:12.25.65.195:2745 Rule: Default deny

Sep/23/2004 05:42:18
Packet dropped by MAC Filter 00-0B-CD-A6-58-0C

Security:

Dlink Settings

Security is handled through several methods including WEP, WPA and even the ability to use a Radius server for authentication. WPA uses 2 different methods: TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) and Pre Shared Key. TKIP is used with a Radius Server to change the temporal key every 10,000 packets which increases security over the standard WEP security. The Pre Shared Key mode (for users without a Radius Server) will give the client a new key each time it connects to the 802.11g network. These 2 methods of WPA vastly increase the security of your network over WEP encryption. Obviously I can not go into each and every option, but certainly this router is fully featured and is certainly my choice of wireless router.

High-Speed 2.4GHz 802.11g Wireless Cardbus Adapter

Dlink Wireless

The PCCard is certainly worth using as it enables the fastest wireless connection I have ever used. XP SP2 Admin Network Install copied in about 2 minutes, using encryption about 25 feet away. But I have gotten a little spoiled having integrated wireless in my laptop. When you are not used to anything sticking outside your laptop, you tend to forget that you have a wireless card inserted.

Wireless Card Inserted

It never really got bumped or hit, but I did have to be a little more careful while using it.

Dlink Bottom

Here you can see the adapter is installed and is being used. The dimmed out wireless signal shown above is the integrated Cisco wireless card that is not being used here.

Dlink Bottom

Here you are able to see the signal strength. This is in Super G mode going through an internal wall in my house. I was able to keep a good to moderate signal strength throughout the entire house, with one exception. My kitchen is on the far side of my house and my fireplace is between the kitchen and router. So the signal strength is poor going through an 8 inch thick rock wall. But, I do not use the laptop in my kitchen, so it was of little consequence. I did test it outside my house and still kept decent signal strength and was able to surf the net with no issues.

This wireless solution is the fastest I have ever used. However, I must admit, it’s a drag to insert the wireless card in the PC slot each time I take my laptop out of its bag. I will be the first in line to purchase a mini PCI Xtreme G wireless adapter for my laptop.

DGS-1005D 5 Port 10/100/1000 Desktop Switch

Dlink Switch

The DGS-1005D is Unmanaged Layer 2 Switch with 5 10/100/1000BASE-T Ports. All 5 ports use Universal UTP Cable Recognition for Straight-Through or Crossover Cables (MDI/MDI-X). The DGS-1005D has the capacity of an 8,000 MAC address table, so even large networks can use this switch.

Dlink Back

Auto-Sensing, Auto Cable Detection, Auto Configuration, Clear LEDs and easy mounting design make this switch a great addition to the home or office with lots of room for growth. Also notice along the bottom (and top) edge of the switch, there are several rectangle holes used for stacking.

Dlink Stacking

It is difficult to see, but Green LED’s on the top of the switch indicate a device connected at 1000Mbps, the Amber LED’s indicate 100Mbps and if you hook up a 10Mbps (please forgive me, but you need to upgrade if you have a 10Mbps device) the LED is blank. Activity is noted by the green LED’s under each port name.

DGE-530T GigaExpress 10/100/1000Mbps PCI Network Adapter

Dlink Network Adapter

The DGE-530T adapter was a nice addition to the line up. It included a small form factor slot cover, just in case your PC needs this form factor. I installed these cards in a Windows 2000 Server and in a Windows XP pc. Neither install had any issues. Supported operating systems: Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP, Novell Netware 4.2/5.x/6.x, Red Hat Linux 7.3 & Later (Kernel 2.4.18-3 and later), & (Planned Future Support For Free BSD and Sun Solaris) The DGE-530T supports SNMP for remote management and troubleshooting, ACPI for low power consumption and WOL for remote wake. It also has a Cable Diagnostic feature that allows the card to auto detect a bad cable.

Using the D-Link Home Networking Solution I was very surprised with the speed increase in the wired and wireless networks. I have needed to move all my personal data to a different machine as I need to rebuild my server. This game me the perfect opportunity to move 55Gig of data to my local pc. I thought it would take several days, but using the new gigabit connections, it was a cake walk (XCopy is a great free tool).

I disabled the Super G Static mode so a couple of friends could use my wireless connection to hook up to our different office VPN connections. There were 2 of us hooked up on the 802.11g VPN connection and we moved to several locations in the house (to escape my kids) and we never lost a connection. We finally ended up out on the front porch working for a couple of hours.

As far as tests, I did run a couple of tests. One was copying my administrative software installation points over to my personal desktop. I copied 5 gig of data in just short of 20 minutes. I also copied my software folder (including XP, 2000, Server 2003 and Server 2000 installs), Ghost images of each machine in my network, family personal data directories and the shared music folders, which included 27 Gig of data in just 1 hour and 20 minutes, notice the timer in green in the pic below.

Dlink Setup

Conclusion:

As a total home networking solution, I must give it 2 thumbs up. I have really enjoyed using the D-Link products and I have actually purchased several to use on a few of my clients networks. I previously have exclusively used Linksys products, but I am changing my previous paradigms. Super G is a great advancement for Wireless G networks, too bad it is not cross-vendor compatible. D-Link’s implementation of Super G is simply guaranteed to work with D-Link only hardware. I feel the changes to my home network are far superior to my previous solution and welcome the change!

Since we award a product Editor's Choice status so infrequently here I don't have a fancy graphic for it so we just use a scaled down version of one of the early MHW site avatars.

MHW Editor's Choice

Pros:

  • Small Footprint
  • Advanced Firewall Features
  • Super G 108Mbps Wireless Speed
  • Gigabit to the desktop

Cons:

  • No incoming VPN connection
  • PC Card (Not integrated Mini PCI adapter)
  • Super G Not Compatible with other Wireless G Hardware

Added: October 11th 2004
Reviewer: JimAdkins
Score: 10  
Related Link: Dlink
Hits: 8636
Language: english

  

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