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in Web by Guru (27.3k points)
Network gurus and experts?Is it possible through a hack or whatever  to configure a computer to use both the Ethernet and Wifi connection to increase bandwidth? my University offers 'free' wireless/wired internet access. (you're paying tuition, so it's not really free), and it would be cool if I could utillise both types of connections at once to speed up my downloads and speed in general?Thoughts?

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3 Answers

+2 votes
by Guru (30.2k points)
It would be nice, but I haven't heard of any hack that would make that possible... However, connecting them both guarantees that when one connection drops you are automatically switched to another connection. By default windows takes preference to the wireless connection first then the ethernet LAN.
by Guru (57.6k points)
plus 1 for the point that connecting both will give failover characteristics

while existing connections likely will drop they should just reconnect on the secondary working interface if theres an issue (this is largely dependant on your software - web browsers will likely need to be manually refreshed)

I'm of the understanding that LAN takes priority over WLAN on windows? as it would be the faster/more reliable network interface in 95% of situations - am i wrong?

i know that on Mac you can set the NIC priority as you desire
0 votes
by Guru (57.6k points)
edited by
in your setting its not possible

its known commonly as link aggregation or Port Bonding, Port Teaming, LACP (Link Aggregation Control Protocol) or IEEE 802.1ax and IEEE 802.3ad - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Link_aggregation

it cannot support wifi and lan only multiple lan interfaces and the switch at the other end needs to support it and be configured for it on your ports

i cant remember if windows supports Port Bonding or not but i do no that Linux and Mac OS support port bonding

if your not restricted to what device can connect to the wifi and lan what you could do is purchase a small format computer that can accept wireless usb adaptors and install a firewall/routing OS such as PFSense
which can do "Multi-WAN routing" this will allow you to balance load over both connections which gives you extra capacity and failover should one connection fail. on the internal side you could just plugin via lan or attach the internal side to a wireless access point for wifi access

however it should be considered not a full solution because a single download connection will not be able to use more than one of the connections simultaneously (unless you use a download manager that makes multiple connections to speed up transfers)

you could set this up as a VM on your current computer but your network configuration would get pretty messy if you move about a lot with that computer (eg laptop) so it may not be worth the effort of doing that

i should point out that you really should read your universities IT policy before you do this - they may have restrictions that make this thing not allowed and they may also throttle traffic from single users anyway and thus you will not actually get any speed increase
0 votes
by Guru (88.1k points)
Wifi in universities is used for internet access only, nothing more fancy features. Even at enterprise level, its still used to provide access where its difficult to run copper or fibre cable.

So the most general setup is that there is a wireless access point which connects users wireless, then the access point is connected thru cable to the local network and/or internet.

You will not be able to achieve your goal bcoz;

- your pc is only given ip address from the pool which systems admins at your uni religiously monitor.

- your computer is a standard pc which can only open one connection, for protocols like Pagp, you will need special NICs and may server OS to load balance btwn.

- even when you can find work arounds, your uni is most likely hav strict QoS in place which policy peer to peer protocols ie downloads in your case.
by Guru (57.6k points)
DHCP bears no real relevance to network bonding because its something thats totally independent - EG if bonding was correctly setup at the switch and computer then there would only ever be one DHCP request and only ever 1 IP given out for the bonded interface - that is to say the bonded network interface would appear as a single network interface at the DHCP server and from the client system

standard pc's dont have restrictions on Bonding - just the need for multiple LAN interfaces (and the support of the network switch at the other end) the only possible restriction is windows potentially (cant remember if it will support bonding NIC's or not) and they certainly can open more than one connection (see download managers) but they cannot out of the box send multiple connections for same end point down different connections (see multi-path routing or multi-homing) - well at least windows can't and linux/mac does not without severe hackery/customisation of routing stack (hence the need for a tailor designed solution like PFSense)

non TCP protocols might however require specialist hardware but i would be surprised if a university is using non TCP protocols across there main networks
by Guru (88.1k points)
Listen, lm simplying my answer for easier of understanding. When l say one connection, lm not talking about logical connection, lm talking about the physical part of it as per question, yu cannt load balance btwn ethernet and wireless as per question.

TCP/IP stack is responsible for multiplexing a user application requests for connection and put everything on the wire. Once on the wire,the stack is no longer responsible.

Most computers comes with RIP installed, bt its a layer 3 protocol, Link Aggregation Control Protocol, or Etherchanel, or Port Aggregation control Protocol are protocols which ar responsible for port bundling at layer two, which yu ar calling bonding or can also be called port teaming.
by Guru (57.6k points)
Good point

RIP however is not installed by default on systems - its a manual install on windows (same with Mac and linux) - and wouldn't actually solve the problem of the question for 2 reasons:
1) its not designed for load balancing but about learning routes and transmitting them between nodes(machines/servers/routers etc) in a not too dissimilar sense to BGP
2) it wont work over 2 physical connections that have the exact same gateway as theres no difference in actual routes between the 2 interfaces if they are connected to the same network
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