Today my father and I were a bit bored so we thought we’d try out WPA. We though we’d try since last Monday we setup two wireless networks with WPA instead of WEP. We thought it was going to be fool-proof and effortlessly easy. It wasn’t that way for us.
We changed over with ease on our router. That was fine. Then we connected using my Vista desktop machine. So far, so good. Then we hit a rough spot. My dad’s Acer (which I reviewed not too long ago) didn’t like the change, it didn’t want to connect. I think our mistake was that we used the same SSID and that probably confused Vista laptop. After a bit of struggling, we got it to connect but then there was another issue.
Our entire network was a slug. Slow. Incredibly slow. So I was curios about if WPA would slow down a connection that much. I found a couple of sites with people asking the same question, but none of them gave direct answers that were clear. Most said that if you used WPA with AES, there should be no issue. Then others said that there is no speed difference if you have WEP or WPA compared to a unencrypted network. That made no sense to me since there is clearly overhead. I then was wondering if our local speed was the problem (through wireless) of if our internet connection was the problem.
I performed a very scientific test. I went to SpeedTest.com. I have one computer that has a hard connection. Everything else is wireless. I did a test with the hard-connected computer and another with the wireless. My results, under WPA on the wireless computer was 1314kb/s. That sounds decent right? It is, but the hard-connection was running at 2668kb/s. That’s a significant difference. I understand that there will be a speed difference, but not that much.
After we were tired of WPA, we thought we’d switch back to WEP. That was no problem. Here’s what I found out after though. I ran another speedtest with the wireless computer again under WEP. My speed was 1978kb/s. That’s about 600kb different than WPA.
I honestly have no idea if WPA was just slow or if it was a configuration problem on my part. I’d like to move away WEP but not if we’re going to have so many problems with it. I have a hope that maybe the next generation of Wireless-N will have another high-grade residential method of encryption/authentication.