titleNearly five years ago when we hosted our first LAN party we had no idea what to expect or any idea on how much it would grow in the future. Research online as far as what other LAN’s were using was one of the most helpful things. Because of that, as we prep for our 10th event I wanted to give everyone a look behind the scenes at our network. This should help give you an idea of what to start with if you plan on growing in the future.

Our network is sponsored by: Trendnet

Review by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

The idea behind the network

The key to any good network, especially one that is so reliant on low latency and high speed file transfers, is an efficient layout. When you are talking 100 plus people the layout actually starts when planning out your tables. Each row of tables is going to run off of its own switch, meaning the largest table you could do a 24 port switch is a row of 20, if you added one more table the switch would be full leaving you no room to hook back up to the backbone. To prevent people from having too short of a network cable we typically run tables of 16, leaving us room to expand if needed.

table layout

Once you have your tables figured out, total up all of you tables and then add in any important servers. That number together will give you the number of ports you need on your backbone switch leaving one to go to your router. Each of the table switches plug directly into the backbone giving them the best possible connection. The key to remember here is you are going for a tree network topology. The idea is to give the shortest distance between any attendee and the servers. The backbone is also very important when it comes to file transfers. The backbone will carry all of the network traffic from between tables; meaning even if you are only running a 100Mb connection to the attendee a gig backbone will help prevent slowdowns. With 20 people at a table, trying to share a 100Mb connection to the backbone only leaves a 5Mb connection per person. At that point everyone might as well be playing at home on the internet.

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Posted: 18 Apr 2015 22:26 by Sideout #36617
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2. How much aggregate (inbound and outbond) traffic did we pass at LanOC v16?

a. WAN traffic - 1.6TB Aggregate
b. LAN traffic - 6.02TB Aggregate

This is a new LanOC record. We had 3 TWC 50/5 modems in a load balancing round robin config and most of the time , we were at a solid 35Mbits on all 3 modems with it peaking to 45Mbits at times.

This gives you an idea of how much traffic we were pushing at the event. We ran a Dell 2824 Switch at the core feeding into PFSense on a 1 gigabit connection. The Vmware was using a LAG group on the Vmware / Switch side at 4Gbit.

In a perfect world , yes you could get managed switches and limit bandwidth at that level. I dont see any sponsor ponying up that hardware though.

Another factor we have is that with multiple modems , it is not possible to get a true load balanced solution so while we have 3 modems to the Internet , it is not a true 150Mbit. Again having one pipe to manage for that would make things simple as well but that is not the hand we have been dealt.

The goal with any QoS / Filtering / Throttling should be to balance the game play with the users ability to download or surf as needed. This last LanOC , it was the best one we had from that aspect. It is not an exact science when you factor in 140+ people in the room running all kinds of stuff like Spotify , Hamachi , Bit Torrent , UTorrent , and others on their PC - all leeching for the best amount of bandwidth they can get. Factor in as well game updates the day of and other download needs and you have a large amount of demand for a small pipe.

Not to mention we had one modem pretty much dedicated to streaming the LAN live so that cut into the bandwidth we had available.

if your interested in my setup I used for PFSense you can find it in the forums here or over at the pfsense forums.
Posted: 18 Apr 2015 17:37 by CNO #36615
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From the perspective of network management, I can see it is not a 'genre' consideration. I assume network monitoring played a role in your decision. Do you have that data that supports this? My interest in your decisions is looking at the statistics over the net, over the entire event. Armed with this info I might gain a greater understanding of the network traffic, bandwidth load, and node considerations.
Posted: 18 Apr 2015 13:51 by garfi3ld #36614
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Running managed switches on every table at a LAN event isn't really the best idea financially, at least early on. More to your point though, we haven't ever run into an issue where any one person or table has dominated the traffic the LAN traffic to the point where it caused slowdowns for people around them. File transfers up until very recently have always been limited by the transfer speed of the host and the write speed of the person pulling them, keeping any big transfers slow enough not to be a burden on users around them. With SSD's becoming more popular it is possible that we might run into the issue in the future, but like I said before the cost of buying managed switches for each table is huge and out of reach for most mid sized events.

That said, in a perfect situation setting a cap on each port at the table is a great way to prevent any one person from dominating network traffic for those around them
Posted: 18 Apr 2015 08:15 by CNO #36613
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Would it had been more advantageous to configure each switches ports bandwidth restrictions prior to deployment at an event? Granted, I haven't managed a LAN Party, however, the same considerations are at work in academic labs with 50+ workstations. We manage port traffic to limit web access, let alone LAN traffic, the same considerations are at work. Albeit, the majority of the students are 2-year IT students interfacing with mainly Cisco products. So, the decision not to configure the table switches, and configure the master switch, is a decision based on best practices pertaining to LAN Party experience? My thought here is without managing the local ports near the gamers, there is the potential for one or more clients to dominate a branch below the master, degrading neighboring clients. Were those ports also managed as well, balancing is insured, both at the master, as well, as each branch.
Posted: 28 Jun 2012 20:47 by mianosm #25930
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Just surfing/browsing the web and stumbled upon this site.

Coming from another community that is actually doing the same thing as you guys - and just wanted to let you know the write up was great, and I look forward to any future installments for comparison and contrast to how we're currently setting things up. :)

The network for us seems absolutely solid, the issues we seem to run into more often than not is power issues (and mainly that comes about from the 4 guys with high performance quad-sli/xfire daisy chaining off of one outlet). ;)

Keep up the great work!
Posted: 12 Apr 2012 23:03 by Dreyvas #24611
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Sideout wrote:
Not to give a spoiler alert but you might be able to see live LAN / WAN network stats at the next NeXus LAN event.

If the LanOC guys are there and are interested in doing something similar , I can help them out on setting it up.

Wes, I'm sure Alex and I could lend a hand with getting this set up as well if you are interested.
Posted: 12 Apr 2012 22:22 by Sideout #24610
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Not to give a spoiler alert but you might be able to see live LAN / WAN network stats at the next NeXus LAN event.

If the LanOC guys are there and are interested in doing something similar , I can help them out on setting it up.
Posted: 10 Apr 2012 20:08 by neokeelo #24581
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Nice article.

Im trying to help some buddies out with planning a LAN in a few months back in Tennessee.

If you wrote another article explaining how to manage the internet and also the name and settings of that LAN Check-In system you guys were using, it would be very helpful I think.

What is the name of that program you use to check everyone in and register for events?

From all of the events I have been to (probably over 50) LanOC was definitely the smoothest running event I have been to so far. Nice job guys.
Posted: 04 Apr 2012 05:31 by Sideout #24469
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I think you should look at using PFSense for your router. Not only will you not reach a performance block with it but since it is open source , you can get some nice addons , bandwidthD is one , that will give you some interesting stats.

Here is the link (www.pfsense.org/) . You can run it on basically any type of PC you have and you can add in multiple NIC's for different interfaces.

I use it at work to provide a captive portal on our public WiFi network.

An x86 based router is going to be able to handle the higher PPS compared to a router like a TP-Link.

Back in the day (2004 / 2005), we ran PFsense on an Intel PII-400 with 512MB of RAM and 2 NIC's with a small hard drive and at one lan party we logged and passed 16 TBytes of LAN / WAN traffic. Additionally we had two cable connections that were load balance and QoS based on traffic type.

It might take a bit more to setup but it is a much better solution imo.
Posted: 29 Mar 2012 22:14 by garfi3ld #24377
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keep the feedback coming, I'm interested in what else you guys would like to see. To help me break up the writeups
Posted: 29 Mar 2012 21:51 by Angrypirate #24375
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Good to hear. Can't wait to get all of your magical secrets...
Posted: 28 Mar 2012 05:51 by garfi3ld #24325
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Twodavez wrote:
Too bad you couldn't show the actual stats while at the LAN and condense it down to a nice 10-15 min video. It could be someting you could post on Youtube and even generate a little revenue for your efforts. ;)

I really want to get setup and cleanup videos to show what goes into it all also. I have a feeling we will be following up with this specific writeup a few times until we have covered everything needed to know about setting up a LAN
Posted: 28 Mar 2012 05:49 by garfi3ld #24324
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Angrypirate wrote:
So Wes, how's that followup on handling the internet traffic coming along?

we were waiting on the new router that we got for this event. But as you all noticed the new router had problems when we hit about 100 people. Once I get through all of our sponsorship followups I will be working with TP-Link to track down the problem.

Once we do that, we can finally do the writeup
Posted: 28 Mar 2012 05:46 by Twodavez #24322
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Too bad you couldn't show the actual stats while at the LAN and condense it down to a nice 10-15 min video. It could be someting you could post on Youtube and even generate a little revenue for your efforts. ;)
Posted: 28 Mar 2012 04:35 by Angrypirate #24316
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So Wes, how's that followup on handling the internet traffic coming along?
Posted: 02 Dec 2011 00:55 by garfi3ld #21297
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Unless I'm confused by your post, we already do that. The backbone switch is where all of the servers are hooked up along with the uplink from each table switch.
Posted: 02 Dec 2011 00:38 by DrDeath #21295
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Good article man (read the whole thing). The only thing I would consider, is hanging all dedicated servers off their own switch, which is uplinked directly to the primary switch. The reason for this would be, if anyone is transferring anything from a server, it's usually a large file (i.e. gaming, movies or music). You don't want that traffic propagating the entire network, from one table to another. Instead, traffic is going from the server switch to the table switch that requested it. It's not a huge deal, and you're not going to see great benefits from it, but it's considered best practices.
Posted: 01 Dec 2011 20:50 by L0rdG1gabyt3 #21264
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Nice writeup. Thanks for the info! Looking forward to v10!
Posted: 01 Dec 2011 19:50 by garfi3ld #21262
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I was planning on doing a second writeup on internet and handing the internet traffic if this was well received
Posted: 01 Dec 2011 19:44 by Angrypirate #21261
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I am very curious to know how all of the internet traffic is handled and what you use for load balancing, if needed.
Posted: 01 Dec 2011 19:24 by Angrypirate #21259
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This is exactly what I've been looking for...
Posted: 01 Dec 2011 19:12 by garfi3ld #21258
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A peak into our LAN's network and a few times for those of you who want to run your own LAN's

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