In my router, what is WMM and should I enable it? Hint: yes!

Update: More than 5 years after writing this, it’s still one of the most popular articles on my website, so I decided to make a short video that explains this as well! 😉




Original post below:
Fridays are usually video game related articles. Today, I’m not talking about games themselves, but how the gaming console has become the entertainment hub in your livingroom. It’s a lengthy post, but I think it will prove to be of some value to most readers! The long and short of it is: I was having major problems streaming Netflix to any of my wireless consoles – PS3, 360, or Wii. But my desktop computer worked fine. I enabled WMM and the majority of my problems were solved. It’s not a one touch fix, by any means – there are a million potential reasons video would be buffering, even times when the service you’re streaming from won’t have adequate bandwidth, are caught throttling your connection, or are being investigated for generally poor speeds. There are times when your regional ISP may just be having technical issues. There are an abundance of issues that can arise at the dozens of hops between you and the media you’re watching or listening to. But, in optimal conditions, WMM is a feature that will help you.

There are debates galore concerning not only the effectiveness, but the legitimacy of “Wi-Fi Multimedia™ (WMM®) WMM® Quality of Service.” People don’t know what it is, don’t understand it, or don’t think it really does anything. Well, it’s my opinion and experience that it does make a difference for streaming movies, it’s worth noting, however that some people prefer to have this feature disabled, and doing so they claim faster overall throughput (faster “file” downloads). Personally, when I have WMM enabled, I do not see my regular download speeds slowed at all, and I enjoy the added benefit of buffer-free streaming to my Wi-Fi devices. Therefore, I’m going to explain not only why I think you should enable, but how to enable it.

The rest of this article gets technical, and also may have instructions which you don’t need – the “meat” of the question is answered above

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A little background on WMM

Created by the Wi-Fi Alliance, a group of entities, including the manufacturers of wireless access points and networking hardware, WMM was designed to enhance the streaming of multimedia over wireless devices. From the technical side of things, despite drastic advancements in wireless technology, there will always be slightly higher latency in Wi-Fi devices than in wired connections. Trying to avoid all of the technical information, WMM allows traffic related to multi-media to take a higher priority, thus their packets get delivered first, meaning their “received!” packets will get back to the source sooner, meaning more packets will come your way sooner! “Net neutrality” goes out the Window… but only on your wireless network! In reality, if you enable WMM on your router, particularly in a home environment, it will not impact your other devices on the network, unless, say, you’re downloading and seeding a dozen torrents, streaming twenty movies, and making four VOIP calls at the same time!

Services like Zune, Qriocity, Last.FM, YouTube, Netflix, and Vudu have capitalized on that, by making their software available on your home console. But do you ever have problems with your console, be it Xbox, PS3, Wii, or other Wi-Fi devices like your phone or tablet, buffering? If you try it on your wired computer or laptop or even on the same console, just wired directly to your router, you have no problem. But if you try to use Wi-Fi, whatever you’re watching or listening to simply keeps getting interrupted. It doesn’t make any sense: you know you have enough bandwidth, other devices work, why not this stupid console? Why is everyone enjoying Inside Xbox but you?

Here’s what to do



I’m not positive about the others, but I do know that on a LinkSys, WMM is Disabled by default – which is why I wanted to share this tip with everyone, because it actually made a difference for me! Open up your web browser, and go to the address: 192.168.1.1 (if it is different from this, you’re probably advanced enough to know how to find it, because you most likely changed it yourself!).

Enter your router’s password. If you’ve never set it, there are several potential default passwords.

What’s the default password for my router?

  • LinkSys / Cisco: username: {none} / password: admin
  • NetGear: username: admin / password: password or 1234
  • D-Link: username: admin / password: admin – in some cases, D-Link may have no name, or no password, or use user as the username.
  • For best results, a quick search on the web ought to point you in the right direction of finding your specific router’s password
  • .

Once inside your router, you should be able to find an applications tab – in the case of the LinkSys WRT54G2 that we’re using in this example (an extremely common home router), it’s listed as Applications and Gaming. Here’s what it looks like for most LinkSys WRT54xx series routers:

After you click the tab at the top, the subtabs will change. As you can see in the same picture above, there will be an option that says
QoS. Click to the Quality of Service or QoS subtab.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and change the drop down for WMM to Enabled.

In a D-Link, you should go to the Advanced Tab, the Wireless Routing option on the left, then check the box to enable WMM.

On a NetGear, look for the QoS Setup option, under the blue Advanced header on the left side of the page. Click on that, then check the box to Enable WMM and click the small Apply button at the bottom.

*WHEW!!* Now that was an exhaustive post, but I hope it will get people thinking that they should give WMM a try, and help them ensure it’s enabled on their router!

Better Know a Gamer is back! Nominate a friend, now!

So, the other day, I imported the WinBreak.com Better Know a Gamer archives. During this process I may have forgotten to disable my twitter updates which caused abut 30 articles to publish to my twitter and facebook streams in a matter of seconds. Sorry about that. But the good news is, you can read all about more gamers, and some of their best stories!

Better Know a Gamer is back, and you can Nominate a Gamer whenever you want, even yourself! There’s no shame in it, some come on and get famous!

Lookout – protecting your phone from more than viruses

From friends, co-workers, clients, and acquaintances alike all want to know the same thing: “how do I know if my phone is being hacked?” or “does my phone have a virus?” or “can my phone get a virus?” The short answer is: while it’s possible, it most likely hasn’t happened to you. There have been “proof of conept” attacks, but not much has been seen “in the wild” so to speak, at least not in North America. The likelihood that you, some random person of no interest to anyone, have fallen victim to an attack on your mobile device is extremely unlikely. If you really think you have, your safest bet isn’t worrying about your phone, but changing passwords of your email accounts, facebok account, etc… But for the added level of comfort, I advise people to install an application called Lookout.

Lookout is like AntiVirus for your phone. While there are other brands out there, they’re so busy trying to get you to buy the full version that they forget that there is a free competitor already out there. And Lookout isn’t just some wannabe trying to scare people about mobile security, they’re looking out for you. They helped Google identify some programs on the Chinese Android Market that were actually packing some nasty bugs (luckily, this doesn’t appear to have happened in the United States, so far). They’ve also been around the block – Lookout mobile once fully supported Windows Mobile. And even though some people still want to say that these guys are just fear mongering – what have they got to gain from it? Their base-product is FREE!

Lookout has around 15 million users, and take their role as a leader in mobile security very seriously. It looks for those occasional rare mobile-phone viruses, but the basic membership also allows you to log in to their website and track your lost or stolen phone! You can even backup your data, such as contacts, photos, and even call history. Lost your phone and unable to find it with the “Find my Phone” feature? Your replacement phone can have your most important data reimported to it.

Premium upgrades are available, too, allowing users to get a more indepth analysis of what programs are on your phone. Really figure out which apps can read your email, listen to your phone calls, transmit your personal data back to their developers, or even track your location. Take your security back in to your own hands for as little as $29.99 a year, or $2.99 per month. You can even try a 2-week free trial of these features. Other features may vary depending on your platform, but they do have safe browsing to protect you on the web, and even protection while you’re using WiFi hotspots to make sure nobody else is browsing your phone’s files.

The free product is incredible, and I have zero hesitation in suggesting that people install the app to their phone immediately. It can be downloaded from iTunes or Android Market.

How to Fix 0xc0000218 Registry Hive Error, or Boot.ini Missing Or Corrupt

Today is a Tech Tip Two-for-one. 0xc0000218, or a missing Boot.ini file. If 0xc0000218 doesn’t apply to you, scroll past it to see how to fix a missing boot.ini or HAL.dll file. This advice from Help Desk is a little more on the advanced side, it’s not the kind of problem you’ll see every day. However, the errors you’ll see here are errors anybody can recover from. You know you’re in for a bad day when your computer won’t boot, but these tips out, they may get you back up and running. Since this article is for slightly more advanced users, I’m going to leave out some of the basics – when I say “Boot to the Recovery Console” I’m going to assume you know what that means. While these are errors that are easy to overcome, one misstep in this part of the computer can cause a world of trouble, so you still may want to rely on an experienced friend for assistance.

0xc0000218

I had a user who was getting a Blue Screen error on their Windows XP machine, right after or during bootup. It read:

Stop: 0xc0000218 {Registry File Failure}
The registry cannot load the hive (file):
\SystemRoot\System32\Config\SYSTEM or its log or alternate.
It is corrupt, absent, or not writable.

To resolve this wasn’t too painful. If you perform a true Repair from a Windows XP disc, a lot of customization can be wiped out. Here’s what I did to just get back up and running, and not worry about my user profiles and everything else:

NOTE: In the case of my example, the corrupted file was SYSTEM, but yours may indicate a problem with the SOFTWARE hive. If that’s the case, replace SYSTEM at the end of any line below with SOFTWARE. If you can do it from the Windows Advanced Startup Options even better, but you may have to boot from a Windows XP CD – but either way you want to get to the Recovery Console.

I always type the following just to make sure I get back to the root of the C: drive, then in to the Windows directory. If you’ve installed Windows elsewhere, of course navigate to the proper directory, like WINNT.

  1. cd
  2. cd windows
  3. cd system32
  4. cd config
  5. rename system system.bak
  6. copy C:\windows\repair\system c:\windows\system32\config\system
  7. exit

Let the computer reboot and see if your problem is resolved!

If your computer reports that the Boot.ini file is missing or corrupt:

  1. Boot an XP CD
  2. select the recovery console
  3. Attrib -h -r -s C:\boot.ini
  4. del C:\boot.ini
  5. bootcfg /rebuild
  6. fixboot
  7. exit
  8. After the reboot, you should be able to get back in to Windows!

I’ve been told that this works for the HAL.dll boot error as well, but I’m not certain, I’ve only ever used it for a boot.ini problem. It’s important to note that whether your have a problem with your registry hive or your boot.ini or whatever – you shouldn’t rely on these as “Fixes” to your problem. You certainly have a corrupt Windows installation and could even have a failing hard drive – you should back your data up immediately if either of these presented solutions lets you back in to your system.