The date is finally upon us- Microsoft ended support for Microsoft Windows XP today. XP was released in 2002 as a major OS upgrade from Windows 2000. For those who have Windows XP machines that are still humming along, what this means is that Microsoft will not put out any more security updates or any other type of updates for the operating system. This will leave computers running XP vulnerable to security and stability issues.
What does it mean if you have one of Alfa Network, Inc's Wi-Fi USB adapters running on the XP platform? Not a lot. You should be able to continue using your device on any Windows XP computer as you have before. It is possible- if your system becomes unstable at some point due to a system vulnerability- that your device could stop working down the road. While Alfa is no longer releasing software updates for Windows XP- and will not do so again now that Microsoft no longer supports XP- we will continue to offer technical support for any product for which we advertise XP compatibility. However we may not be able to provide a fix if the problem is due to a stability issue in the operating system that Microsoft would no longer address.
If you own an Alfa R36 router, you probably appreciate the fact that you can receive a long range WiFi signal and share it as a new hotspot around your home, boat, or any other place you may use it.
You can also optimize your R36 for best results. At its heart, the Alfa R36 is a repeater- but with a major advantage. You can use it with a compatible Alfa AWUS036H (or AWUS036NH or AWUS036NHR if you have the R36 NH/NHR version) to pull in a distant WiFi signal and repeat it so that other devices like iPads and laptops can use the new signal. Like regular repeaters, the R36 contains an access point to broadcast the new hotspot, and this can be configured.
We are going to cover three areas of configuration in this article, numbered on the photo below. To change these settings, log in to your R36 using an Ethernet cable, and click the Advanced tab. Under Wireless Settings, select 'Basic'.
1. Network Mode
The default network mode is 11/b/g/n mixed mode. This allows any standard WiFi device to connect to your hotspot, whether it’s 802.11b, 802.1g, or 802.11n. This maximizes compatibility but limits the performance of your network if only newer standard WiFi devices will be connecting to the hotspot. For example, if you have only 802.11n standard WiFi devices (most modern laptops come equipped with built-in 802.11n WiFi adapters, however early generation iPhones have 802.11g WiFi receivers), you can change this to 11n only. This optimizes the performance of your new hotspot for 802.11n devices, but blocks backward compatibility with 802.11b/g devices. If you change to 11n only, we recommend writing a note and taping it to the top of the R36 for future reference. If you forget you have made this change and have a visitor come over one day with just an 802.11g equipped laptop, they will not be able to connect. Once you have changed the network mode, click Apply at the bottom to save changes.
Routers in North America have 11 channels. Every WiFi access point/router sends out its signal on one of these channels. If you have more than one WiFi signal nearby being broadcast on the same channel, this is known as channel crowding. This reduces performance on the network. Because most router manufacturers use default channels of 1, 6, and 11, chances are that there will be several signals around you on the same channel (if you are in a city area where you can see 20+ networks, channel crowding can be a major problem). To prevent channel crowding, click the channel menu and change the channel to as different one not likely to be a router default. Be sure to click Apply at the bottom when finished.
3. Channel Bandwidth
At the bottom of the 'Basic' settings screen, there are two options for channel bandwidth- 20 and 20/40. The default is 20. If you are experiencing slower speeds, switch it to 20/40 to see if this improves your speed. Click Apply at the bottom to save changes.
4. Placement of equipment
When using the R36 in conjunction with an Alfa USB adapter, try to put the USB adapter as far away from the R36 as the USB cable allows, and, if possible, several feet higher. Having the Alfa USB receiving antenna on a different horizontal level than the R36 transmitting antenna helps reduce immediate radio interference between the two devices. Having your Alfa USB adapter higher in the air will often allow it to receive signal more clearly and over a greater distance.
All of these things may be useful in optimizing or troubleshooting your R36 router.
Need help deciding which Wi-Fi adapter to get? We make it easy with our new feature that ranks indoor Alfa Network Wi-Fi USB adapters by both range and speed. When you are buying an Alfa adapter, you really can't go wrong either way as all Alfa models get good range and speed. But our new rankings show you the ones that get the best overall range and the best overall speed so you can decide which will be the best for your needs.
Our range rankings were created based on a test of which adapter could see the most networks in total. Our speed rankings were created first based on which adapter had the fastest overall connection speed to the router. For those adapters that had the same maximum connection speed, we sorted those based on which had the fastest overall throughput speed to our ISP based on a throughput test. Because this can vary based on ISP and router model, we also averaged in feedback from customers about which model had the fastest througput.
We did not include outdoor models from Alfa, these rankings are just for indoor models.
This may just be the coolest product ever made by Alfa Network. Have you ever wanted to pick up a Wi-Fi signal from far away? Well of course, who hasn't. And Alfa has their AWUS036H 1000mW USB adapter for that very purpose. But have you ever wanted to have all of your Wi-Fi capable devices- like your iPhone, iPad, wireless printer, TiVo DVR, and laptop- all connect to a Wi-Fi signal far away? Perhaps you're living in an off-campus apartment and you already own an AWUS036H from Alfa. That lets your laptop easily pick up the campus Wi-Fi network, but it doesn't do any good for those other devices, putting you in quite a fix.
Exit fix, enter R36. The R36 is a new USB-enabled wireless router from Alfa Network, Inc. that allows you to attach your AWUS036H Wi-Fi adapter from Alfa directly to the router itself. Then you can scan for and connect to far-away networks using the admin utility built into the R36. This creates a new local Wi-Fi signal right in your room so all of your Wi-Fi capable devices can pick it up. Think of the R36 as a normal Wi-Fi router, but instead of using a cable or broadband DSL modem as the Internet source, it uses the Wi-Fi signal detected by the AWUS036H as the Internet signal. The R36 then repeats this signal around you as a new signal. The base package does not include an AWUS036H Wi-Fi receiver, but we do have this special kit that includes both.
Alfa's R36 can also be used with Alfa receiver models AWUS036EW and Tube-U(G).
If you are in need of a long range outdoor Wi-Fi solution, before you consider a pricey $100+ outdoor receiver, why not simply put your indoor long range Wi-Fi adapter outdoors? Now you can use your Alfa AWUS036H, AWUS036NHR, or Rokland n3 wireless USB outdoors with our weather resistant case mount enclosure.
For those that need multiple items- such as a Wi-Fi adapter, outdoor antenna, and antenna extension cable, we are expanding our "Wi-Fi Bundles/Kits" category to include more discounted offerings. Our two new addtions this week are:
Just a quick note to let people know that Alfa's AWUS036H long range 1000mW USB Wi-Fi adapter has tested plug and play in Backtrack 5. This means that no messy Linux driver installation was needed to use the device to hook up with our office AP and go online. We have not done any advanced testing with any programs included in BT5, but as the RTL8187L Linux driver it uses has been around for some time there is no reason to think it will not work with the same programs it works with in BT3 or BT4.