Comparing the speed of a Devolo / TP-Link homeplug versus a RJ-45 cable

Procrastination can sometimes be measured in years.

In this particular case, 15 years passed between asking the electrician to run a CAT-5 RJ-45 cable to the first floor when building our house and today when I actually crimped the cable with ethernet plugs and made use of it. And boy, the speed difference is enormous !

There were of course a few years that I could not use the cable, due to the room being used for other things than intended. But the last five years or so I have used homeplug appliances like devolo and tp-link instead of connecting the network cable. The speed was okay, but not great, and I sometimes had network interrupts or slowdowns that I suspected originated from the homeplugs.

This weekend I finally bought the necessary tools to crimp the cable and perform a few speed tests. I used dslreports.com with my Safari browser, as this is an HTML5 test. Most of the other tests still seem to require flash, which I no longer wish to use.

Here is the short and sweet result of the speed test when using the homeplugs – you can get more results when clicking on the image :

And here is the result when I switched to using ethernet cable :

As you can see, the download speed of the connection is roughly 6 times faster by cable than via the electrical home network while the upload speed is only slightly higher. I redid the test with the cable using the Chrome browser to make sure that there was no caching from previous tests, and got just about the same results.

Wow. That’s a very, very big difference in download speed… I do wonder why the upload speed did not change significantly ?

Conclusion : while the homeplugs are certainly a viable solution for many houses where ethernet cable is not usable (old house, renting,…) you are certainly better of speed-wise in using a RJ-45 cat5 ethernet cable.

TP-Link, D-Link, Devolo with HomePlug AV are all compatible

I just bought a new TP-Link starter kit to replace my last Devolo device (since I’m not a fan of Devolo anymore). Cheap when compared to other devices, especially as it has 2 ETHernet ports, which is what I was looking for.

The title on the box of the TP-Link starter kit, however, is a bit misleading : 300Mbps AV500 Wifi Powerline Extender Starter Kit.

My eyes just skimmed over the first words (300Mbps) and I immediately went looking for another device than this, because I was searching for a *500* Mbps AV device. Not a 300 Mbps.

I took me a few times to actually completely read the description on the device (after looking at more expensive devices). Turns out that it is actually a 500Mbps AV device, and the 300Mbps is for the WIFI part of it !!

TP-Link, you might want to change that… Customers might think like me that this is a 300Mbps device and go for another device.

The devices itself are small. The plastic does not feel perhaps as sturdily made as Devolo or D-Link, both of them seem like big blocks compared to the TP-Link device. However, that is not what you buy it for… So far, the TP-link devices certainly work, with almost zero setup.

Using WPS on the router I activated the Wifi-Cloning at the TP-Link device, a few blinks, done, and then it automatically repeated my wifi. Where the wi-fi reception in the kitchen was guaranteed to be close to non-existant, due to the router being behind multiple walls with different angles all the way at the other side of the house, suddenly reception of my network is now between 3 and 4 bars ! ETHernet ports work as well, as I can stream video from my NAS to my tv.

I can also confirm that TP-Link, D-Link and Devolo all happily talk to each other – as long as it states on the box that they are AV Homeplug compatible they should work fine together !

Devolo Support Sucks.

There. I’ve said it and I mean it.

Their products, when they work, do work fine. But when something goes wrong, you can’t count on support. So I’m steering clear of their devices AND their support, and I’m sharing my feelings in this on my blog.

Here’s the rant (quite a long read, got a lot to get out of my system) :

Devolo support seems to consist entirely of first-level support people that only know how to provide support by sending you a pdf with ‘things you can try’. At no stage did I feel that I reached second-level support or that I talked with someone that actually *read* my emails and asked me further technical info based on previous emails.

The overall feeling I got from the emails was that they wanted to get rid of me, but didn’t know how or that they were obliged to follow the rules, i.e. always respond to a customer request, even if it is to resend the same pdf with the same info you sent previously.

As you can read in my other blog posts, last year, about 7 months ago I needed a solution for routing my ethernet signal to my new work room on the first floor. Having used Devolo Dlan Duo devices before without any problem whatsoever I went out and bought 3 Devolo DLAN AV500 devices : 2 with just one ethernet port, 1 with 3 ethernet ports for the various devices (even my TV now has an ethernet port).

From the start, something went wrong with the device that was connected to the router. Every so often it would hang and I would need to go downstairs and unplug and replug it. Then it would work again. Later I found out that it’s actually the ethernet port itself that shuts down, it can still be reached via the power connection so you can actually do a reset from the DLAN cockpit software without needing to unplug it.

So to restate the fact :

  1. The device works, and works fast, no slowdowns, no short dropouts, it just works
  2. Suddenly it stops working, usually when transferring a large amount of data
  3. You ‘reboot’ it and it works again, just as fast as before
  4. It will -days or hours- later suddenly stop working again
  5. See 3…

This didn’t look to me as a typical hardware problem : it’s solved when you restart the device or reset it to factory settings. To me, it looks like a software problem, one or other counter is going haywire and a reset is needed.

So I contacted Devolo support via email in October 2012, and began a very long email back-and-from conversation that lasted until last month June 2013. To be honest, there were usually a few weeks between the answers what with work and family, so not every day a mail was sent.

I also wrote 2 blog posts about this problem that got quite a bit of reaction from other people who are having a similar problem. At the moment I’m writing this, at least 20 people have expressed that they are having the same problem. There have been 1172 visits to that particular blog post already, and unless they do something to fix their product it will only go up.

In the end, after numerous tests (update of the firmware to the latest dev build then, plugging 2 devolo’s in one extension cord to see if they have a good connection, having to confirm and reconfirm and then again reconfirm that no there is no slowdown AT ALL, switching one device in for the other) Devolo software support decided  that my device had a hardware fault, based on the fact that when it crashed, there is no visible indication that it has done so. And then it told me to sort it out myself by going back to the shop and asking for an exchange.

Tell me how YOU can explain to a shop attendant that you want to exchange the device because it is faulty when it shows NO VISIBLE indication that it is faulty ? I don’t know about shop attendants in your country, but the ones I know in Belgium are quite aloof and suspicious when you want to return hardware after 7 months of use.

I have several times told Devolo support that I am not the only one with the problem, please see my blog and read the comments. At no time did they respond to this. Probably because then they might have to actually investigate it, spending time and resources to actually solve the problem for everybody affected.

In the end I bought a new device to replace the Devolo DLAN 500AV+ but this time a Powerline device from D-LINK. Since both the devices use the same common “Homeplug” standard, they just recognise each other and start working together immediately together.

Problem solved, at my expense of course. But at the expense in the long run of Devolo as well. I’m no longer a customer of theirs, will buy other devices than Devolo, and I am making the world know of this so other people know what happened.

Devolo Powerline AV500+ network problems (2)

In a recent post I wrote about the persistent network problems that I had with my Devolo Powerline and that I solved it.

Wrong ! Turns out that the firmware update was not the answer – I now have anywhere between 1 and 4 days before I have to pull the devolo plug. I have contacted Devolo support, but they only sent me a faq about what to do when you have a slow network connection and how to solve it.

But this is not my problem – everything works fine, at reasonable to very good speeds, when *suddenly* the network connection drops. Bam, no more network connection. Usually when I’m copying something to the NAS. Like I’ve suddenly reached a limit on file size or file transfers and everything is cut off.

The only way to solve it is to remove the devolo powerplug (that is downstairs and connected to the router) from the mains, wait 10 seconds or so and reinsert it. That does the trick just about every time (sometimes it is the Telenet router that hangs, but that only happens once in a while).

Update : in the comments on this post people have found an alternate solution : using the devolo management software, you can restart the device remotely, and then it works again (the connection over the powerline keeps working so you can reach the device that way).

I’ll try and keep a count here on how many times I have to restart the devolo plug.

20121118 : reset devolo powerplug
20121125 : reset at least 4 times (doing heavy moving of content to NAS)
20121128 : reset 2 times (telework today, only citrix connection)

Update December 29 2012 : this problem has kept on appearing intermittently – either after a week or several times a day. It seems to indicate that there is a problem with the amount of data throughput.

Update April 09 2013 : I’ve received a new firmware from Devolo to test out, and applied it to all the Devolo AV500 devices I have. The problem is *less* when the network is stable (ie low usage, mail check and such) but worse when actually *using* the network. I now need to reset the AV device about 5 times on a work-from-home day instead of 1 or 2 times.

Update April 14 2013 : received another mail from Devolo to test out the devolo boxes. The test consisted of plugging in 2 devolo boxes on an extension cord so that they are connected via the same socket. A good linkage apparantly is that both the “power” and “home” icon on both devices give a “green” light. I’ve taken a picture of this and added this to the mail I sent back to them. I honestly don’t think I’ve gotten to the second level support as yet, all the things I’ve done until now have been the basic “check this, do that, there is a bad connection, you must be doing something wrong” type of answers that a typical first level support tends to give. I am persisting in keeping in contact with them, and hopefully I will get some more technical requests…

Update April 28 2013 :  I’ve received a few more questions about how my devolo boxes are setup, what type of modem that I use (a eurodocsis 3.0) and so on. I’ve sent those on, and they have now asked me to switch the devolo’s about to see if the problem is located in one physical devolo item or if this problem is caused by a network situation. I have yet to do so, but will do that in the following days. The questions have become more technical, the solution (switch em around) not yet, but it’s a logical thing to test.

Update May 19 2013 : on request of devolo support, I’ve switched my dlan AV500 plus around with my dlan AV500 Triple plus. So the dlan device with the 3 ports is now connected to the router and the single-port dlan which was connected to the router  device is now on the other end. For two weeks I have not had a single crash !  For me that confirms that the problem lies with the single-port AV500 plus. Maybe it has to process all the other traffic and can’t cope while the 3-port device can ? I don’t know.
I’ve informed Devolo of the results and am awaiting their reply. I hope they take this serious and do an in-depth investigation and fix this with a new firmware release. After all, I’m not the only one that is having these problems, seeing all the comments below this post. And putting a 3-port dlan switch on your router where only one port can be used is a bit useless to me.

Update June 9, 2013 :   Devolo support thinks that it is just one faulty device and have asked me to reswitch back the devices to the original locations to confirm that this is the case. I’ve done that and do have the same problems again. This is on the latest published firmware. I’ve also pointed them to this blog and have asked them to read the comments in this post. It seems very unlikely that it is just one faulty device when all the people below leave comments with a “me-too” message – or perhaps there is a whole batch of them ? I still hope a firmware update will solve the problem.

The problem evidently still has not been solved. And there are now 5 6 11 19 people who have left a comment saying they have a similar problem…

Update August 4, 2013 : Devolo support has concluded that the device has a hardware fault and that it needs to be replaced. They told me to bring it back to the shop and ask for a new one. They determined that it was faulty because when it crashes it does not show it on the device (!) as all the lights stay green. I’m disgusted by this lack of customer support and have written a (long) blog post about this. I’m also solving my problem at my expense by buying another device from D-LINK to replace my faulty devolo with.  No more devolo or devolo support for me.

Update November 12, 2013 : in a comment below, Arturo has found that the devolo 500 units have a cooling problem – they shut down when too hot. Removing the cover as he did so they can get more air (or alternately, perhaps drilling holes in the cover) could also be a solution for you. But be careful – don’t get electrocuted !