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Can an 'insecure community network' have automated features to block internet or slow speeds on computers which download a lot, from say: torrents or usenet?

I have two computers and one has excellent signal 24/7 and my other machine goes from having an excellent signal to very poor to no signal at all sporadically through out the day. Do this seem like coincidence or could the network admin have setup something to prohibit users from downloading erroneous amounts of data?

If this is not just bad luck; what measures can I take to get around this problem? Is there some way I can block my bandwidth or make it look like it is coming from a different machine, or multiple machines?

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How about you just stop freeloading off your neighbor's Wi-Fi? –  Iszi Aug 27 '12 at 13:30
It is unlikely that the owner of an insequre wireless network purchase the equipment to do what you think is being done. What you think is being done is NOT done by your typical network equipment. –  Ramhound Aug 27 '12 at 15:51
Yes, such a thing could happen. While we're happy to entertain a question about how to do that or how to prevent circumvention, we're really don't work at helping to circumvent somebody else's system. Besides that, I'm going to say your issue is most likely an RF issue. Your card / antenna / placement needs to be fixed. –  Jeff Ferland Aug 29 '12 at 18:22
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closed as off topic by dr jimbob, Jeff Ferland Aug 29 '12 at 18:22

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2 Answers

Whether or not a network is secured would have no effect on network management and throttling. Security on a wifi network limits the ability of users to connect to the network, it does not be default and not without other features prevent network administrators from filtering or viewing traffic (in most cases if you are using end to end encryption (e.g., HTTPS) they cannot see the content).

There are a few things to consider in terms of performance on a wireless network. Yes, it entirely possible the network admin or network management tools automatically throttle traffic. It is more likely though that this is a result of network activity. The more data and individual connection you make the more likely there will be collisions in the air and retransmissions. You might be having poor connectivity on the other system, but if you are not doing transfer intensive activity you may think "this website is just slow" or maybe the website is designed to load the images you see first preferentially before those that are not initially visible.

The cost of equipment and management make it unlikely the admin is doing any type of class of service or other filtering of certain types of traffic.

You could put all of your traffic over a VPN, tor, or something else to encrypt it, however, the encryption will add extra overhead which will likely yield inferior performance.

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You may be more interested in looking at solutions to improve your bittorrent performance: (1) research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/padmanab/papers/… (2) howtogeek.com/76801/… (3) bittorrent.com/help/guides/bittorrent-connection-guide –  Eric G Aug 25 '12 at 4:27
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Without knowing more details about your setup, I'm guessing this isn't network throttling (though obviously possible) but interference -- especially if its intermittent.

See: http://blog.serverfault.com/2011/12/12/a-studied-approach-at-wifi-part-1/ and http://blog.serverfault.com/2012/01/05/a-studied-approach-at-wifi-part-2/

I'm guessing at sporadic times (versus being constantly throttled after heavy usage), I'd guess interference from say microwaves, baby monitors, cell phones, other devices. If possible try repeating this on a wired setup, or using a setup more robust to interference (e.g., 802.11n or 802.11ac) with better multiplexing.

Then again, if you are downloading GB of data on an hourly basis your ISP may be throttling you. Not much you can do about that but purchase a better ISP connection.

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