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No security, WEP, WPA or WPA2 which is the fastest?

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Lately we have been requested to review our WiFi security configuration. Originally we used to have a “no security/no SSID broadcast” network but that did not meet neither the security nor the ease of use requirements.

WPA2 was obviously our first pick considering security and PSK but the question that was raised was: wouldn’t that affect network performance?

On the internet I found plenty of people rambling on different theories and hypothesis but no one provided actual figures or results for practical tests.

Obviously it would take a big effort to reproduce real network usage, with several people on one AP producing traffic and other APs creating congestion, for the moment I only had the time to make one simple test, using speedtest.net to test our broadband speed over different security.

4 APs: Cisco Aironet 1100 configured on “no security”, WEP, WPA and WPA2

20Mbs symmetric network

Client: windows 7

For each security configuration I made 5 tests and calculated the average

Security

Ping to local ISP

Download Mb/s(speedtest.net)

Upload Mb/s (speedtest.net)

ping to google.com packets dropped google.com

no security

6ms

17.06

17.08

29ms 1%

WEP

5ms

15.94

16.9

27ms 4%

WPA

5.8ms

15.34

16.02

35ms 1%

WPA2

6.2ms

15.44

17.08

27ms 2%

 

Looking at these figures I had to conclude that, at least under these parameters, this test was inconclusive. I was unable to prove any protocol was particularly slower or more unreliable than others.

I did notice a slightly higher number of drops for WEP but I would not take this as a proof of unreliability. It would be nice actually if someone could provide me with some WEP statistics like a 24h ping to an external resource (avg. speed and packets dropped).

At the end we decided to go for WPA2 and the only advice I can give you is to always go for corporate level AP (WPA on non corporate APs did not work well… at all).

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Written by zantoro

June 28, 2011 at 9:18 am

Posted in WiFi

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