Wireless Network

It has been a while since I last mentioned the network that Jay and I have between our houses, so I thought I’d give everyone a little update as well as a quick endorsement of a great piece of software.

First, the network has been up and running pretty much flawlessly for nearly 2 years now. A quick peek at the current statistics shows we’re getting between 48 and 54Mbps over the 1,100 ft wireless connection (one end of the subdivision to the other). Typically it’s between 36 and 48Mbps, so the extra cold weather (low humidity) must be treating the signal well.

We have come to rely on the connection for a few different things. First and foremost we backup data between the two houses on a nightly basis. We each have 250GB mirrored drives setup dedicated to hosting backups so that at any given time both of our backup sets live on 4 hard drives at least. 2 at my house, 2 at his. My backup set contains sourcecode, photos, music, documents and some other random things – with a nightly transfer schedule for everything but the music and photos which I do every week. It looks like right now I have 104GB of stuff on the drives and Jay has 42GB. I don’t think it would be exaggerating to say we have probably transferred several terabytes over this thing, which is pretty darn cool.

In order to handle transferring this amount over the link we turned to a great little piece of software for Windows that implements RSync called DeltaCopy. When one of the schedule transfers is about to take place, it analyzes the data on the source and target machine and transfers only the differences which dramatically reduces the amount of data that goes over the network. There seemed to have been a few quirks to setup the software but it has been running nearly trouble-free for almost a couple years now. Without it, these backups would be a headache. The software is free and works great, so if you need to synchronize data between a couple of computers you may want to check it out.

So backups are the biggest use of the network, but not the only one. Jay has also setup a voip server which has allowed us to have a phone in each of our offices at home to allow quick calls between the houses – something that is very useful when you’d rather not call the other’s house phone and wake everyone up. I think we may add a phone or two to the system soon so I can add one to my basement and Jay to his 1st floor.

Media sharing is pretty nice with this setup too, as both of our collections are just a click away for each other. The last two things (that I can think of right now) we use it for that are pretty nice: computer gaming and a backup internet connection for one another. Since he has dsl and I have cable it is pretty rare (I don’t think it has happened) for both to be down at the same time, allowing a quick flip of a switch to use the other connection.

It took a while to get setup due to some stupidity and assumptions on our part, but has proven to be a very useful tool. When we started it, it just seemed like something to play around with that would be cool, but we have come to depend on it for the things I mentioned here and we now take it for granted.

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