6 devices in the house, only 4 ports on the router

I have 2 PC's, a bluray/Netflix box, a 360, a PS3, and a Roku box. My router only has 4 ethernet out ports. The Roku and PS3 will work with wireless, which is how I'm getting by now, but I prefer everything to be wired.

The Roku has been acting up when on wireless, saying there's a "network problem", but it only happens when using Netflix on it. The other services work fine. When I plug a wire in, the Netflix problem goes away.

I have an old 4 port ethernet hub. Can I take one wire from the router into the hub then split that to 2 devices? (each which need a unique network address, I'm assuming). If not, how can get more wired connections? Is the only way to buy a new router with more ports?

Yes, you should just be able to run a cable from your router to your 4 port switch, then hook in up to three devices to that switch.

As long as you have something set to automatically assign IP addresses, just hooking one of the router ports to the hub, then stuff into that should work just fine. It's been a while but you can probably chain together up to 255 devices in this manner without a problem. I'm guessing the game systems are in the same area and you are not likely to be playing your PS3 and XBox online at the same time, so those items are probably the best bet to put onto the hub (not sure how good of a hub it is, so going for worst case scenario in terms of the hub).

Nosferatu wrote:

As long as you have something set to automatically assign IP addresses...

You bring up a good point, if this is truly a hub or switch, you're OK. If it's an old router, you need to make sure you have DHCP turned off on it so that it won't compete with the main router at assigning IP addresses.

MannishBoy wrote:
Nosferatu wrote:

As long as you have something set to automatically assign IP addresses...

You bring up a good point, if this is truly a hub or switch, you're OK. If it's an old router, you need to make sure you have DHCP turned off on it so that it won't compete with the main router at assigning IP addresses.

It's definitely just an old 10/100 hub.

Thanks for the replies. I'm still looking for the power cable to the hub.

Depending on the router, you might need a crossover cable for that to work. Many of the old hubs have a crossover button on the front, which converts one of the ports to crossover for you. And most newer switch hardware can autodetect crossover, and fix it for you.

If you can't get a light out of it when you plug it into the router/switch, but the same port works with a computer, that's the problem.

Depending on your wiring, you can also just add an 8- or 16-port switch, hang the router off that, and be done with it for ages. Dell has nice little gigabit switches, but man, their prices are about double the usual right now. Dunno what's up with that. The 8-porters are normally about $50, and the 16-porters are usually about $100. Nice solid hardware, but I'd wait for a sale.

I go from one ethernet port on my Netgear router > four-port hub > Wii, PS3, 360 and PC. For ages I used an Asus router instead and set up all the IPs on machines manually.

ALso, if you're going to be gaming on the PS3, go wired.

If you're assigning IPs manually, each machine on the network needs a unique number. But usually it's easiest to just use DHCP. The router will normally hand out IP addresses for you automatically. When you add a hub or a switch, that's just extending the same network "wire", and machines will correctly get IPs wherever they're plugged in.

By the way, I also used router and switch a bit confusingly there. Your router is both; it has a routing engine for talking to the Internet, and it also functions as a 4-port switch. A switch is an advanced form of hub; it isolates network traffic to just the ports it needs to be on. For a home user, this doesn't matter much, but if there's a lot of network traffic from multiple hosts at the same time, a switch can be much faster than a hub.

Once you have a wire between the hub and the router, and the link lights are green on both ends, you can freely plug clients in to any available port, and they'll all mesh into one network. Everything will work just like it always has.

Note that you lose 2 ports doing this, 1 each on the hub and the router to talk to one another, so double-check you'll still have enough. If they're both four-porters, you'll have three free on each, so your 6 clients will take all the remaining space.

Thanks for all the help.

Just to be clear ... my hub says "5-port ethernet hub". There are 6 actual ports on it ... 5 regular (numbered 1-5) and one that is a crossover, I think .. it's got that criss-crossed arrow symbol beneath it, and also says "1X".

So, would I take one ethernet wire from the router, and plug it into one of the 5 numbered ports on the hub (say, #1) and then two more wires out from two other regular ports, or ...

Do I put the ethernet from the router into the "1X" port and then two regular ethernet out?

Or something else? (crossover?)

If all you have is straight cables (likely), I'd try plugging it from a switch port on the router to the "extra" port on your hub. If it lights up, you're probably good to go. If it doesn't, move it to one of the numbered ports and it should light up.

After that, wire whatever device you want into the regular ports of the hub.

Crossover is only for connecting hub/switch to hub/switch. Devices use regular ports and cables.

Thanks LC.

Jeff-66 wrote:

Just to be clear ... my hub says "5-port ethernet hub". There are 6 actual ports on it ... 5 regular (numbered 1-5) and one that is a crossover, I think .. it's got that criss-crossed arrow symbol beneath it, and also says "1X".

Yup, that's the ticket. The last port is a shared port that you can either use as standard port or the uplink port.

With the X on it, it's probably a crossover port, and you should be able to connect it to the router with a normal cable. You could also use it for a PC if you had a crossover cable, though you have no need to do that now.

Depending on your router, it may just figure it out in any case... almost all switch hardware made in the last couple of years can automatically detect crossover, and swap things around however it needs to.

Turns out, my Netflix/Roku problem was something on their end. Got an email from Netflix last night saying they had issues with their new Roku software rollout and people were experiencing disconnects. They apologized and gave me 5% off my next bill. It's been working fine on wireless ever since.

Not that this networking info isn't still useful