Tag Archives: broadband

Billion 7800N Wireless ADSL2+ Router Review

So I’ve been looking for a replacement wireless N ADSL router. Some have Gigabit ports, others Dual Band wireless N but few have both at least not in the UK anyway.

But I think I’ve found the best compromise and here it is, the New Billion BiPAC 7800N Wireless N ADSL2+ with Gigabit Ethernet Switch, catchy name isn’t it!? But it has all the features that I need, but will it perform how I hope.

My ISP is Bethere Internet or Be as they like to be known and they offer a potential connection speed of up to 24Mbits if you live right on top of it. But I don’t so typically my connection speeds are about 13-15Mbits with my old router a Speedtouch 780 that was supplied with by my ISP, but that is still a lot higher than most sub 8Mbit speeds.

After I’d ordered the new router I did a set of test and noted down the speeds and times of transferring a 780Mb file to multiple different locations around the house and to different PC’s.

Equipment used for test

Homeserver – 1.5tb Green WD drive – Gigabit Ethernet

PC – XPS 430 –  Quad core – Duel stripped drives = Wireless G

Laptop – Duel Core Dell XPS 1330 = Intel Wireless G / N

PS3 via Ethernet

False Start

You know what its like, you order a new gadget and can’t wait for it to arrive. Only this time the excitement didn’t last for long as when I opened the box there was no power supply inside. I was a bit disappointed to say the least but hey these things happen. A quick call to broadbandbuyer.co.uk from whom I’d purchase the router and they got onto Billion as they had sold out of the router and there was a new power supply on the way. It arrived only a couple of days later so did it live up to the performance expectations.

A quick note on the instructions supplied before I get to the performance. Lets just say they are a bit rough and ready, no more than a few pages of photocopied A4 pages to get you started and they really aren’t that useful. If you know what you are doing then it won’t be a problem but for the novice you might be a little daunted.

Performance and Set-up

Set-up wasn’t to complex but I did need to make a few tweaks to get everything working well. The Auto configure didn’t work so I had to use the manual method.  I used this Billion Be/O2 help page to get the right settings and it almost worked, the trick was to add in the correct manual Primary DNS IP address as the AUTO setting wasn’t working. Hey presto it was up and running, but what have I connected at?

Speedtouch – 1090(Up)/14834(Down)

Billion 7800 – 1191/15801kbps (initial figure)

But things are set to get better, Be/O2 use Annex M and this means I might be able to get an even better upload and download speed but how good? Very good is the answer check out the figures below, this is far better than I have ever got before so I did a speed check as well to see if things go better.

Billion 7800 Annex M – 1347 / 17931 kbps

That’s a 3000kbps or 3Mbit improvement in upload speeds, a very healthy increase indeed. A quick speed test confirmed the boosted speed, going from 13.2Mb/s to 15.7Mb/s, not quite the sync speed but as it was via wireless and there are other factors involved that’s still a healthy increase. Another reason is that the Billion 7800 N uses a broadcom which is know to often get better download speeds.

Wireless N, is it any quicker?

I’d say maybe a little but that would be a lie, it is much much quicker for me at least. Rather than waffle on to much here are the transfer differences I saw below on the PC and the Laptop. The test was to transfer a 780Mb AVI file.

Laptop performance

Wireless G – 99% Signal – 1.82Mb/s – 6 minutes 47 seconds.

Wireless N – 99% Signal – 2.72Mb/s – 4 minutes 57 seconds.

PC Performance

Wireless G – 81% Signal – 2.42Mb/s – 5 minutes 41 seconds.

Wireless N – 50/70% Signal – 8.92Mb/s – 1 minutes 25 seconds.

The Laptop is a bit quicker but the test was done when the laptop was as close as it can get to the router, this can cause an issue with performance thus why the difference in speed is small. Also the laptop was having to try fairly hard to transfer the data @35/40% processor usage meaning it will start to be a bit of a factor in the transfer speeds.

But for the PC the speed improvement is dramatic to say the least and a clear view of how much faster wireless N can be. It wasn’t initially that quick, I had to play around with the location of the Wireless N dongal and ariels before I got a better figure and the 50/70% still doesn’t look great. I used a Billion 3010N that I bought with the router that doesn’t have a wireless antenna, but regardless of the noise the performance the speed speaks for itself.

Initial Conclusion 9/10

Well the Billion 7800N is cheaper than many of the other wireless N and Gigabit Ethernet routers, add to that it has full ADSL2+ and Annex M support and its a great package that these initial speed results show. The slight disappointment with the power supply is now  forgotten as everything else is as good or better than I hoped for.

I will update this review when I have done the Ethernet performance tests and if the router is more stable than the frankly terrible Speedtouch.  If you are in the market for a new ADSL router and are with Be or 02 or anyone for that matter then I would give this a serious look as it ticks all the boxes for me.

Where are all the ADSL Dual Band Wireless N routers?

Now Wireless N has been out for a while, ADSL out for a lot longer and gigabit ethernet out for well… you guessed it a lot longer than both. So where are all the routers that have it all then? Well there aren’t.

So what I want this

Dual Band Wireless N
4x Gigabit Ethernet
ADSL+ 24Mb supported modem, all in one box

And do you know what in the UK, it just doesn’t exist. Netgear, nope, Belikin, erm nope, oh hold on D-Link erm … nope, Vigor well nearly everything but the 4x Gigabit, I mean why have 3x 100m and then 1Gigabit, that is just stingy for a router that costs £180.

Now if you check out the Cable models they have it all and plenty of them, dual band, loads of Gigabit ethernet ports and plenty more besides. So come on all you manufacturers out there where is my erm ‘Dream wireless router’ then, surely it can’t be that hard to produce can it?

Backup using Homeserver and Carbonite

So you have loads of photos and data on your PC that you can’t afford to lose and need a method to ensure that both your PC and your images are backup up correctly. But you also need to know that you have a copy of the data off-site.

Well here is a simple guide on how I do it and what you need

Firstly this guide is only useful for Windows PC’s on the whole sorry, I know plenty of people use mac’s but currently I don’t but I’m sure you might be able to use elements of this guide.

Windows Homeserver

What is it and why do you need it? Windows Home Server is a piece of software that Microsoft have created specifically for the home. It’s based on Windows 2003 Server edition but with many of the features simplified for the home.  It can be installed on most older PC’s, I’m running it on an old Dell P4 desktop with 1Gb of memory and that’s more than enough.

However if I was buying something dedicated to Home Server (WHS) I’d have a look at one of these Tranquil Homeserver . It costs about £430 and consumes less than 40w of energy ideal for something you are going to want have switched on all the time.

Tranquil

So now you have your Home Server, you have bought it off the shelf or installed it on something you have already got and you are ready to go.

Install WHS connector software on your PC – PC Backup

To get the next feature that you will need you have to install the WHS connector software, this can be found on an additional CD that you should have got or connect to your WHS and go to the Software share and you will find the Homeserver connect Software there. Install this on each PC in your house.

[ad#whs-soft]

The WHS Connect software will do several things but the purpose of this guide the main thing is that its the conduate to backup each PC to your home server. Its extremely efficient at storing this data, if it backs up three Vista 32bit machines all with the same patch levels it will only hold one copy of the OS data and just reference it for each machine.

You can log onto the WHS via the connector and configure the backup’s to be done each day, week, month etc. and it will nag you if you miss the backup window by showing the server as ‘Critical’ its not but hey you got to love Microsoft sometimes.

[ad#post-picture]

Important – Don’t use WHS to Backup Photos / music

One point to note, I don’t use the WHS software to backup my images in fact I specifically exclude them from the process. Why? Well speed of the backup for one and control being the other. I use a syncing tool to backup all my images, music and data directly to the home server so it can be viewed by other clients. If you only let the WHS do the backup itself it sits in a special file on the WHS that none of the clients can get access to other than via WHS. Don’t forget using WHS Media Connect software which is DLNA compliant you will be able to view the photos or listen to music via a compatible media player if you sync to the WHS not use the WHS Connector to do the backup.

Syncing Photos, Music to your WHS

To transfer your images and music to the WHS I suggest using something like MS SyncToy V2 you can configure this to your hearts content. Get to sync from the PC to the WHS only or both directions or just detect changes on one end. You can also set up multiple transfers.

I configure my Photos on one sync and Music on another to the corresponding directory on the WHS, I set it off once a week or so when I have carried out any major changes. Then after the sync is complete all the other clients and see the new files and can use them if they need to, he presto you have a media server.

Off-Site backup of your data via Carbonite

So you have constructed and configured your Windows Home Server, added files to it by syncing them from a PC and now you need to take another copy just in case the worst happened, Hard disk failure, fire, theft you name it, do you really want to take lots of lovely photos or rip all your CD’s to lose the lot…… no I thought not.

So you need Carbonite or a similar service. I use carbonite for several reasons, it works on WHS, it allows for unlimited (within reason) backup space and its not expensive. At $49 a year or $89 for 2 and now $135 for 3 years its extremely competitive especially when you consider the storage you can use. Currently I have a none to small 140Gb of space used up and its still growing fast. The data transfer is quick and the restore’s I’ve tried also seem to be ok.

Carbonite WHS Issues

Its not perfect, with WHS there seems to be a small bug when you allow WHS to span data across multiple disks itself, for some reason WHS won’t back them up. Carbonite sees them as if they are on other drives and they stay in a wait state, its a shame but it can be solved. If you store the data on one disk or use RAID so the OS doesn’t know where it is all is fine, so its not a big thing but worth mentioning. You can also start and stop the backup if you need to and even tell it to work on a lower priority so it doesn’t swamp your connection.

If you want to backup video files you will also need to select them individually, a hassle but at least you can do it. I think they are trying to limit the space people will use but if you have a compact camera that makes videos you are going to have to make sure you go through each directory to ensure they are all being backed up.

Backup times for me have been fine but remember that a typical UK broadband upload limit is only 256k not the 6-8Mb (6-8000k) download you enjoy when surfing the net and downloading things. If you can go to one of the newer services from someone like Be Unlimited they offer a service that gives up to 1.5Mb upload speeds very useful when you are using an off-site backup service such as this.

Conclusion

So there you go, you have a triple resilient solution that will have your data living in three places. Your PC, the Home Server and off site. This should be more than good enough for just about anyone. The only other thing that I’d advise to make things very secure is take a backup yourself to another hard drive and take it off site yourself, give it to another family member. This would only be needed if there was an issue with Carbonite of some sort and as anything is possible I might as well mention it.

So you need a Windows Home server, a couple of PC clients, a media player, an internet connection, router, and last but by no means least some great photos or music or other data to take advantage of this easy peasy full backup solution.

Useful Links

We Got Served
Windows Home Server – We Got Served – Widgets
[ad#postlinks]

If anyone has any questions I’d be happy to answer them post away in the comments section.

Visit Us On TwitterCheck Our Feed