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why is access to shared folder slow?

We are using an accounting application on our local network that allows us to go offsite and have one of two computers host the customer files and any other computer on the network can access them via a shared folder. This was accomplished by carrying a wired router with us (linksys befsr41 v4.3) and we would hook the computers to it to share data (both computers running windows vista business edition).

Up until 3 or 4 months ago, this worked fine and performance was good. After a 2-3 month spell of not using this feature, it was used again and the speed accessing the app from the remote computer (not the host) is significantly slower. On the network back in the office, both computers access the files on the server with no problem but using this offsite method, it is much slower.

After some testing, I connected the two computers using a cross-over cable and it sped up quite a bit and was back to "normal" speed.

Can anyone think what may have caused this to slow down when connected through the router and not via cross-over cable?
1 Solution
It seems to be a mantra of mine in these circumstances that you need to check the nic port / router port auto-negotiation
Basically if you force the speed settings at both ends to the fastest available then you should find the performance improve considerably.
What has probably happened is that the duplex setting was mis-matched resulting in multiple dropped packets or it ended up at 1/2 duplex.
Force both ends to 100/Full and see what happens
Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
I don't know why it would work one time and not another....  so that's a bit of a mystery.

But, some app's like this (Quickbooks payroll for example) don't like to run over a low bandwidth link and will be very slow.  At least this was the case a few years ago and I know of no changes that would affect this.

A customer was doing this over a wireless link and it was very slow.  We replaced it with a wire and all was fine.  
- The internet connection speed is lower than 100BaseT ethernet.  Likely by a factor of 80 or so if you have rather typical "fast" DSL at 1.5Mbps.
- Wireless is *possibly* faster but may not be...... depends on signal to noise ratio, etc.
Depending on the version of your BEFRS41, it might be a good time to upgrade it's Firmware. I dont have an explanation as to why it was faster and is not now, but those older routers used to have performance issues with Vista, due to the TCP Window Scaling being enabled.....

Vista TCP Window Scaling Auto Tuning May Slow Down Network Performance

Kind of a long shot... Excerpt from above link...

netsh interface tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled

"Disable the autotuning feature in Vista completely, and fit and lock the RWIN receive window to default value 65536 bytes"....

lockrows_ainsleyAuthor Commented:
funny that you mention that, I had already tried disabling the auto-tuning in Vista with no difference; I had also updated the firmware in the router with no difference in performance. I have them trying a different router (fvs114) and they seem to be getting better performance out of it, but still not as fast as the cross-over cable: is that to be expected?
Xover eliminates router's overhead, no intermediate hops etc.... but I wouldnt expect to see that much of a difference......
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