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pfSense Router Tuning v2.4.4

Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin
edited August 2019 in New Ideas
Tim brought this to  my attention, so thanks to him for taking the time.

If you are using a pfSense router, there is now a much better way to tune the router for bufferbloat issues.    

You must updated your pfSense router to 2.4.4 in order for this to work.

After doing this, it took me about 15 minutes to tune my router using www.dslreports.com/speedtest so that I was routinely seeing A to A+'s for bufferbloat when the best I could do was maybe B's.   

In my case, change the Q size up and down made a difference.  For my 200mb/sec / 15mb/sec cable line, the numbers are about 2000 for WanDown and 900 for WanUp.  This is discussed in the video.

Now, I just need to do the update on the remote end, but I will not do that remotely in case it fails.  You know, Murphy was an optimist.  

For general surfing, I noticed that the initial loads on just about any web page were much faster too especially on email fetches on my iPad.

If you are using pfSense, this should help you out.  Your other option still continues to be the IQRouter you can order from Amazon.  

Mike va3mw



  • K5CG
    K5CG Member ✭✭
    edited December 2018
    Thank you!
  • K1DBO
    K1DBO Member ✭✭✭
    edited December 2018
    I just gave this a try and moved my buffer bloat score from a B to an A.  I'm going to assume that's good ;)  My FIOS connection is decent at an advertised 75/75.  Typically, the speed test programs report closer to 85/85... which brings us to the point of this comment.  

    The video was great... my only complaint was that he went a bit fast.  I've been using pfSense for years and am familiar with the interface.  I found I needed to pause the video and rewind a few times to make sure I didnt miss some of the details.

    A point that was glossed over was the bandwidth settings for the limiters.  These need to be set to the upload/download speed of your internet connection.  But it's important to keep in mind that what you are doing in pfSense is setting up a rate limiter.  If you set the numbers lower than your connection will allow, you'll get a great buffer bloat score but you'll slow your network throughput to whatever value you chose.  If you set the number too high, the rate limiter wont come into play and you'll be subjected to the same performance and buffer bloat you had prior to making the changes.

    The idea is to let pfSense do the rate limiting closer to home.  Letting your provider do it for you increases latency... and that's what we are really trying to avoid.

    So to minimize latency, my suggestion is to first do a speed test to find out what your connection is capable of, then set the bandwidth of the limiters in pfSense to those numbers.  Of course Mike's suggestion to adjust the queue size add another dimension to the optimizations.  Fortunately, after it's all set up, making these changes is really easy.  My only concern is that someday my connection will receive a free speed upgrade and I'll have forgotten that I need to adjust the limiter to make use of it! 


  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin
    edited April 2019
    Excellent points Don

    And, like you, more than once have I been bitten by my own traffic limiter.   I also had to rewind in several places.  

    It has been 3 days now and my day to day internet operation is now much snappier and I continue to get solid A's and A+'s now.

    I will now keep an eye on my RTT (which is different than Ping readings) and see if the average is consistently improved.   I only use SmartLink now when I operate HF.

    Very glad I did this upgrade.

  • Phil - AA4MY
    Phil - AA4MY Member
    edited December 2018
    If you have cable Internet service, please note that DOCSIS 3.1 provides an advanced rate control/queue management mechanism that will do this for you--if you have a DOCSIS 3.1-capable modem and an appropriate provider plan.


  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin
    edited April 2019
    Hi Phil

    The first question I have that maybe you can help with is how can users can tell if they are DOCSIS 3.1?  How do they get it?

    Does it directly address issues with Bufferbloat?

    Thanks, Mike va3mw

  • Phil - AA4MY
    Phil - AA4MY Member
    edited December 2018
    The active queue management mechanism was intended to target Bufferbloat.  "AQM" is the specific feature of the standard for this.

    They have to have a rate plan that explicitly terminates using a DOCSIS 3.1 CMTS.  For a lot of the people in the states, that's a gigabit-capable plan.  Also, its a standards requirement; so any consumer off the shelf gigabit-capable modem that uses DOCSIS 3.1 should support it.

    Some DOCSIS 3.0 modems support it optionally, but 3.1 requires the implementation.

    The technical committee studied several Codel variants as well as a few other rate control options before settling on PIE.

    The reason why I mentioned this is that for a lot of people (Cable users with the latest standard), rate control/queue management may already be addressed before the traffic hits your router or firewall.  Doing it twice may result in an non-optimal experience.

    BTW: it goes without saying, that if you can substantively test and verify an improvement with one of the newer speedtests, I'd keep your rate control configuration in place.  :)
  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin
    edited January 2019
    Hi Phil

    Not so true in Canada.  The average normal speed for over 80% is 10mb/sec.  Canada is so vast that ISP's are reluctant to change out old hardware due to cost.

    I live in Toronto with 11 million people in the area.  The best DSL I can get is 10mb/sec down and 3 mb/sec up.

    For cable, slightly better, but no such thing as Gigabit connections.  I do have 200 down and 20 up on Cable and with the above tuning on the latest modem available from Rogers, my bufferbloat numbers are in the C to F range.  After the above tuning, it is much much better.

    The IQRouter which is an excellent off the shelf solution also brought that up to an A when when I was testing it.  If I default back to their modem/router, performance is ugly.  That is why I now have it in Bridge mode.


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