Make file transfers faster over the local network (Windows 7 / Vista / XP)
Whether you are using a wired or wireless network, some of the most time-consuming operations are moving and copying large amounts of files and folders (or large files) over the network, from one computer to another part of your HomeGroup or local network: another computer, a shared external drive, or a shared folder of some kind. In this tutorial, we will give you a few tips to make your file transfers a lot faster.
The fastest way to copy or move files over your network
First, let us just say this: the fastest way to move files across your network is to use cables (vs. wireless file sharing), and to make the cable length as short as possible (although cable length is a marginal factor in transfer speeds).
Here are, in order of efficiency, the best way to move large chunks of data on your local network; pick the one that is easiest for you (most suitable to your particular situation).
- First, try to move or copy files when no one else is moving big amounts of data: your network cables and wireless routers have a limit to the amount of data they can transfer at any given point. The more data is moving back and forth at any given point, the slower the network is for everyone else.
- If possible, connect with a cable the computer from which you are moving files to the computer or drive to which you are transferring these files: as a general rule, the less "intermediate" steps you have between the source and the destination, the faster the transfer will be.
Note: for internet traffic, the different between a wired connection to your router or wireless connection makes no difference, since the fastest internet connection is still many times slower than the network speed a standard wireless router is able to accommodate; the difference becomes noticeable when you are transferring files over the network, since the wireless connection is much slower than an Ethernet cable's capacity to move large chunks of data.
- On a wireless network setup, you can increase your file transfer rates with a couple of tips / tricks:
- As mentioned earlier, the simplest way is to transfer files when as few people are using the network as possible (moving or copying the files will be faster for you, without painfully slowing down the network for the rest of the users).
- In most cases, the network infrastructure is the same for file servers and shared folders as it is for internet connectivity - which means that they are all influenced by others action on the "other side" of the network: moving files will take longer when someone is downloading movies at the same time!
- Another to improve your file transfer rates over a wireless network is to bring the source closer to the router and/or destination: for example, when moving movies and TV shows from our "iTunes laptop" to the external drive shared through a PC, which is seating next to the wireless router, and connected to it via a cable, we found a big difference in transfer speed when the laptop was put on a desk in the office, only a few feet away from the wireless router, as opposed to seating in a room at the other end of the house (or, worse, outside on the patio!)
- Finally, as long as your laptop's network card / wireless adapter supports the "
802.11n" network protocol, investing in a "Wireless N" router will greatly speed up network transfers, compared to a standard "A/B/G" wireless router.
Each of these tips individually will speed up your network transfers, and in combination, they will make these large file transfers a lot more bearable!up ↑