SlingLink Killed My Network!
This isn’t the most accurate title, but…
I’ve got a SlingLink Turbo that I use for connecting my Macs upstairs to my cable modem downstairs. I went with a network-over-powerline option, because I’ve been having all kinds of intermittent interference problems with my wireless connectivity. So, rather than running an extra-long patch cable up the stairs and taping it down to the carpet, I went the SlingLink route. It seems to be designed specifically for SlingBox applications, but it forwards plain ol’ ethernet signals, and it’s about $40 cheaper than the NetGear equivalents. Huzzah for getting a bargain!
First impression: fabulous! I went along happily for weeks, enjoying my newfound reliable network connection. Then I tried downloading the latest Ubuntu ISO images via BitTorrent, and within five to ten minutes, the internet connection went offline. If I went downstairs and turned the cable modem off-and-on again, the internet would come back. For five to ten minutes. Then it’d go down again.
Surely, I say to myself, that’s a cable-modem problem, right?
I had to have the tech guys from Time Warner’s Cable group come out (twice!) before I finally figured out that it wasn’t their fault (the first time they said they replaced the splitter, and presto, the network was fine! I didn’t go after the ISO again for a while so…). Turns out I didn’t need to restart the cable modem, all I had to do was restart the SlingLink node and I’d get another five to ten minutes out of it. But it ONLY happens when BitTorrent is running; otherwise, the network connection is rock solid!
So, to experiment, I tried limiting the BitTorrent connections: no dice. Then I tried limiting the BitTorrent bandwidth and all of a sudden the network would stay up. Somewhere between 100Kb/s and 150Kb/s is the cutoff. Something about BitTorrent’s bandwidth seems to either confuse the SlingLink node OR triggers some sort of antiviral cutoff in the SlingLink hardware (either way is annoying). For the record, it’s not a pure bandwidth issue: I can transfer files over the SlingLink network at speeds of over 400Kb/s. As soon as I introduce BitTorrent, though… down she goes.
Maybe it’s a packet-size issue. Maybe it’s a connection-tracking issue. I have no idea. But at least now I know that SlingLink has its limitations. And now, so do you.