I've got three PCs at the house and cable modem. Currently I'm paying for a unique IP for each system, allowing each computer to independantly connect to the Internet, play games online, and play games LAN-style.
I'd love to have a nice router system, thus cutting out the cost of the additional two IPs each month. I would also like to have the added security of the router as a firewall. I came THIS close to purchasing a Linksys router, but some studying revealed that there were issues with using the router and playing games online. People posting lots of "work-arounds" that didn't quite work, disabling certain features, etc.
Does anyone have any experience with a router that would allow three PCs to be connected and result in the same functionality as having three IPs, wrt gaming, etc.? I need to be sure - I was grandfathered in on the cost of my IPs, and if I cancel them and then find the router to be unsatisfactory, it will cost me double to re-purchase the extra IPs.
By Erik on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 10:50 am:
I'm using a 4-port Linksys BEFSR41 to connect two computers to a cable modem. It works great. I pretty much don't know anything about anything, and I had it up and running in five minutes - just plugged in the cables and off it went.
I'd heard about various games not working, but so far I haven't experienced any problems, though I've never tried to host a server, which I think might be difficult. The unit includes a web-based management program (that I've only looked at out of curiosity, not because I've had to) which permits you to "open up" specific ips to the outside world. I think that can temporarily enable most things that the router might interfere with at the cost of disabling the built-in firewall.
By timelhajj on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 10:56 am:
I'm interested in whatever answers you get to this thread, but I don't know which router is best myself.
Nevertheless, I have a small piece of advice: wait a month or two after you launch the new topology before you sell back the grandfathered IP addresses. Worse case you're just out the cost of the router.
By timelhajj on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 11:05 am:
"permits you to "open up" specific ips to the outside world"
Forgive me if this is a stupid question, but I don't know much about this.
Now do you actually need more than one IP to make the shit work? I need two IPs right now so that whenever my wife or I turn on our respective computers, each is connected to the Internet. It would suck if we had to a) keep one computer on all the time or b) turn on two computers just to have an internet connection on one. Is a router right for me?
By Steve on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 11:22 am:
Yeah, if you want to share connections, get a router. It also adds a layer of security, since you're not directly connecting to the Internet; your cable/DSL modem plugs into the router, which makes the connection, then your machines connect to the router.
I have the Linksys BEFS11 (or something like that) router, though I have a separate hub (though I no longer have multiple machines hooked up to it). If you already have a network with a hub, get the version without the hub. It's cheap and fast and it does work with hosting multiplayer games if you open up ports on the router (the games will tell you which ones).
What it doesn't work with are sharing files, either via ICQ or Morpheus, with other people behind a firewall. If they have no firewall, you're okay. But that's the only issue I've ever had with it.
Now what I don't know is if multiple people can play the same multiplayer game with someone over the Internet. Never tested it.
Tim, the way it works is the router is your connection to the internet, so it's the only thing that gets/needs an IP. It then distributes (routes) the traffic to different internal network IP addresses. Each machine just runs an internet network address (192.168.1.2, whatever).
Both of you would look, to the Internet, like the same person (with the IP address given to the router by your ISP), and because the router is connected to the 'Net, both machines don't have to be on, which makes the router a better solution than something like Internet Connection Sharing, which is built in to Windows 98SE and Me).
I've been running one of these things for over a year and have gone through a couple of different units. One was a review unit, a D-Link, which didn't allow you to open up port ranges, which made it useless for game playing as you often need to open, say, ports 27600-27900 or something like that. I bought the Linksys because it's pretty much what everyone recommends. It was only like $80 or so (I think). A great deal...
By BobM on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 11:36 am:
The problem you'll run into is that externally you have only one IP address.
It's difficult for external PCs to reach your PCs.
I've found that I can't have both machines access Battle.net at the same time. I can't host a game on one machine and have the other machine join in if I'm playing with people on the 'net. They can see me, but they can't see the other PCs on my network.
I have no problems playing Unreal Tournament, but I never host.
AOL Instant Messenger doesn't seem to work, as well as certain file sharing apps like gnutella apps, don't work.
Everquest works with not problems.
There are workarounds for many games that allow you to specify certain 'ports' to be used for each machine, and it's possible to get certain games to work with the router that wouldn't using the default settings.
What you need to ask yourself is do you play lots of multiplayer games on the net using all your machines at the same time? or do you just browse the web and check email?
If you primarily play games on these machines, and you want all of them to be able to participate it's probably worth it to keep paying for the independent IPs.
By TomChick on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 12:38 pm:
I've also got a LinkSys Router ("BEFSR41" -- I had to look on the box). There are four machines hooked into it. Like Erik, I don't know how it works or really anything about what it does. Hell, I don't even really know what a router is. I'm assuming it routes something.
But I've never had any problems with online games. I seem to recall Sacrifice wouldn't work online before one of the early patches. Otherwise, we go online for Shoot Club from time to time. We can all hop onto the same Unreal Tournament server, for instance. But for games like TRIBES2, Diablo, or Half-Life, each machine needs a separate CD-key if we want to play simultaneously. But in my experience, the router and whatever IP spoofing stuff it's doing have never been a problem.
By Desslock on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 12:49 pm:
>I've also got a LinkSys Router ("BEFSR41" --
Thanks for the tips -- and thanks, Jeff, for asking the same question I had. I messed around a bit with Internet connection sharing (has anyone every gotten that to work well? My secondary computer's connection was very, very slow), but knew that wasn't a permanent solution because of security concerns and the IP address problem many games have.
By David E. Hunt (Davidcpa) on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 12:50 pm:
Gotta go with the other guys on the Linksys router. Three PCs are sharing a DSL connection modem with with few problems. I have had a couple of crashes when transfering files between PCs but nothing major. The router also loses its connection from time to time but I don't know if that is a network or DSL problem.
By Rob Funk (Xaroc) on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 05:02 pm:
I would recommend the SMC Barricade. It is the one I use and can be configured (as can most routers) to let specific ports through say for FTP access or hosting a game server or roger wilco server. I like it, it does everything I wanted it to. Never had a problem with it.
By Jason McCullough on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 05:45 pm:
Getting stuff to work behind a NAT PC/router with internal-only ips isn't that hard. The only problem is with applications that use a TCP connection where the initial packet comes from outside your network, or that don't always stick to the same port; you need to manually configure the port/ip pairs to get those to work.
You're technically breaking the TCP protocol, too, so I think NAT is a bad idea for anything but saving IP money on a couple IPs for a small network, as you can get all sorts of insane transient TCP state errors.
I've been using a 2k server box as a combination domain controller, terminal server, and NAT, and it's all worked pretty well.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Wednesday, August 8, 2001 - 11:46 pm:
Linksys owns 50% of the home router market, and for good reason.
Be SURE to update your firmware. For a long time, owning one of these things was like a free membership in the firmware-of-the-month club. They were still fixing MAJOR bugs into January 2000.
Also, the latest firmwares add a number of significant features (port range forwarding, port triggers, MAC filtering, etc etc).
Get it from Linksys's web site, here:
If you are not hosting anything on your "server" (eg, FTP, web, game servers), operation is fairly straightforward as Erik and Tom pointed out. If you _DO_ plan to host something, plan to spend some time learning about NAT and port forwarding.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 12:28 am:
I have a Netgear router hub, and don't really have any complaints. (My father-in-law gave it to me, and free always beats cheap, so I took it!) It's really pretty nice, though not quite as easy to configure as I've heard the Linksys ones are -- but still not bad. I think it might be a tad cheaper, too.
I'm almost certain that this is it. Maybe it's not as cheap -- I just checked, and this one runs about $100, but it also offers pretty much every form of firewall protection you can get. (Apparently there are different kinds -- or so the Netgear website wants you to think.)
I haven't played TONS of games on-line since I got it, but it's certainly nice, and I have had no problems of any kind, other than a slightly-more-time-consuming-than-desirable setup.
By timelhajj on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 12:57 am:
"and because the router is connected to the 'Net, both machines don't have to be on"
This is the crucial part for me. Thanks for explaining that Steve. I may just end up getting one.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 01:22 am:
Somebody -- I think it was Desslock, but I'm too lazy to check -- asked about I'net Connection Sharing, and I'd just like to comment that I did have it working at home, until I got broadband, at which point I went with the router. I had no problems with it, and didn't notice the secondary connection being any slower than the primary -- except, of course, when they were both actively using bandwidth, but even then they stayed about the same.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 01:23 am:
The same, at that point, meaning equal to each other. Didn't think that was very clear...
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 01:35 am:
". The router also loses its connection from time to time but I don't know if that is a network or DSL problem."
Update your Linksys' firmware. Seriously.
That should read "into January 2001", above.
By Jeff Lackey on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 09:23 am:
Thanks for all of the recommendations and comments, guys. I'd heard that the Linksys is the "standard", which seems to be the way to go since there will likely be more people with experience in how to work around any problems. I'll probably grab one and set it up and make sure it works before I cancel my two extra IPs.
What I'm still a little unclear on: someone said that each computer looks like the same IP to the outside world? How do two computers from the same router hook into the same multiplayer game?
By Steve on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 09:50 am:
>>How do two computers from the same router hook into the same multiplayer game?
That can be a problem, I believe. From what I understand (which is little), it depends on the game. The packets look different as they're from different internal IP addresses, but the game may only allow one connection per IP.
I dunno, I haven't played any multiplayer games with multiple machines connected out over the 'Net (since I only have one machine hooked up through the router).
By David E. Hunt (Davidcpa) on Thursday, August 9, 2001 - 10:39 am:
I believe my firmware is dated January 27, 2001. Is there a more recent, improved firmware?
I found out last night that part of my recent connection problems is the power strip for my DSL modem and router/hub has gone belly up. No power, no connection. I still had connection problems last night, but I believe most of the blame is with the DSL provider. I am going to look at my system this weekend to make sure nothing is setup incorrectly in the modem, router, or network card. If not, then let the bitching begin.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 12:01 am:
"That can be a problem, I believe. From what I understand (which is little), it depends on the game. The packets look different as they're from different internal IP addresses, but the game may only allow one connection per IP."
You can do this _IF_ the game allows players to connect using a different port. Each player MUST be on a different port. There are command line ways to override the default port in Half-Life, for example.
"I believe my firmware is dated January 27, 2001. Is there a more recent, improved firmware?"
That is a good one-- it's what I was running until a week ago. There is a newer one, and it adds port triggering and filtering by MAC address as well as "speed improvements" (from the readme).