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The number of bytes transferred should be roughly the same regardless of your connection, right? We'll look at a couple of reasons that might not be true.

p>Why is the byte activity (sent and received) exponentially greater when I connect to the internet via wireless compared to the land line connection?

I don't have a specific "this is it" answer for this, but I do have a couple of ideas.

If you're at home and connecting to the same network then they should be roughly the same. For example my laptop can connect both wired and wirelessly to my home network at different times, but ultimately it's all still behind my DSL and router. Same internet connection, really, so it should be roughly the same wired or wireless.

The difference between a wired and wireless connection may simply be packet routing and visibility. When you're connected via a wire to an intelligent device such as a switch or a router, your computer will most likely see only the packets of network traffic destined for it. Traffic to other computers on your network will be routed down other wires or connections by your switch or router.

"The fact that one wirelessly connected computer can 'see' all the wireless network traffic in the area is the basis for 'sniffing' in public hotspots."

A wireless connection may well see all the other network traffic "in the air". It's possible that if you have two computers connected wirelessly, each might see all packets destined for the other. It's very much like wired computers being connected through a hub, which sends all data received to all computers connected.

The fact that one wirelessly connected computer can "see" all the wireless network traffic in the area is the basis for "sniffing" in public hotspots.

Now, if you're comparing a landline connection at home with a wireless connection at, say, a public hotspot, this comes into more serious play. Your landline is probably dedicated - meaning that your ISP only sends traffic down that line if the traffic is actually for you. A public or other wireless connection taking a different path to the internet could be picking up lots and lots of traffic to and from other computers in the area that has nothing to do with you, but still must be received and evaluated to see if it is for you.

Now, if none of this seems to apply to you - you're not picking up external wireless network traffic, for example, I'm actually at a bit of a loss. Even spyware and viruses shouldn't be network-specific like that.

One last thing to pay attention to, is that packet size may be different on that network. This shouldn't affect *bytes* transferred, but many of the network status displays list packets, not bytes, and smaller packets means more packets for the same amount of data.

Article C2820 - October 25, 2006 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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7 Comments
DanU
October 25, 2006 10:42 AM

Would encryption in the wireless connection account for the difference?

Leo Notenboom
October 25, 2006 11:07 AM

Maybe slightly, but I wouldn't expect it to be an order of magnitude different.

Eli Coten
November 5, 2006 7:20 AM

Not sure exactly where the readings come from but the extra data (in terms of bytes or packet overhead) will be greater on the wireless network because it has to carry all the wireless routing information as well as the standard TCPIP or whatever protocol is in use's overhead. Encryption adds greater overhead and it could be all these things that would increase the actual number of bytes transmitted over a wireless network.

It depends where you are measuring, however. If you have software that ionly counts user-data in packets and not the total packet size, then it is possible that this doesn't apply. If you are only measuring over your DSL connection and not counting over your actual wireless connection then the actual amount of data through the DSL line should be the same regardloess of the type of connection to that line on your end.

Hope this explains some things, I'm sorry that its a bit confusing.

SR
March 9, 2007 7:06 AM

My laptop has a problem connecting to router. It doesnt connect to Internet ( when wired it does) however it shows 'Sent' bytes increasing, but no bytes 'received' from router ( stops at 4 bytes!). Any reasons why there is only 1 way commn?

MARK
May 21, 2007 4:39 AM

i have the same problem as SR im connected but i cant receive any bytes and my sent bytes keeps on increasing

EV
July 18, 2007 5:14 AM

I, too, have the same problem as SR and MARK.
There are two computers connected to a central router in my home and both receive wireless internet with no problem.

However, my laptop has problems accessing the internet. I am connected to the wireless connection but no packets are being received (yet many being 'sent'). I have tried changing the TCP/IP addresses as those of the other two laptops but that doesnt seem to help as well. (I should note that I receive internet when it is wired).

When I first bought the laptop, I had a dial-up connection but have since 'deleted' that connection (so it now shows 2 LAN or High-Speed Internet icons in the 'Network Connections' option, and no dial-up connection). Would that have been a problem?

Please help! and thanks in advance.. :)

jacklyn tate
December 25, 2009 3:12 PM

iam a begainer & not sure how to properly connect my new laptop to my home computer. i would like to do it right the first time. please help.

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