Why Does My Airport Wi-fi Network Hierarchy Change Sometimes ?


Hi all....

I have multiple Airport Extremes and Airport Expresses located around my home to try and get the best wi-fi/broadband coverage that I can to my family member and various Airplay and Wi-Fi enables devices.

But sometimes when either I add a new Airport Express or I restart the network the layout and configuration can change when I view my network using the Airport Utility.

My main source router remains always under the Internet icon... but sometimes the other can be all in a straight line or as now some or under others... the hierarchy changes from time to time.

Is this a good or bad thing. Sometimes some have Excellent signal, other times Good...

Is there a way to fix the layout of the access points to get the very best results...?

Any comments most welcome.



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Everything depends on the strength of your ISP WiFi signal, then which Airport devices pick up the signal first. As long as your signal strength is satisfactory for what you want to do and connect to your airport devices, there shouldn’t be a problem or worry as to which one connects to the ISP modem first or second in the mapping.

You probably can dictate which device gets connected first - but that will require you to shut them all down. Restart the ISP modem, then start up the airport device you want connected first, wait for the signal to ‘connect’, then start up the second device....and so on ... until all of your airports are connected.
Thank you again Cheryl for all your help and advice. Much appreciated.

I figured out the issue as I added a new Airport Express and had located it too close to others so it moved the hierarchy around... I now have my main Airport Extreme at the very top.. and my four other Express's underneath all in a straight line which I was told is the correct alignment... each unit showing Excellent connection... so that's all good right...?

You are 100% right... my whole network is Wireless... but my main router from my broadband provider that I hang my main Airport Extreme off is in the very furtherest corner of my home in my work office (2,400 sq. ft groundfloor + 600 sq. ft upstairs), so that's why I extended to get the signal as best I could all over my home.

I have one Airport Express dedicated to my Samsung SUHD TV and another to my hi-fi plus another to my daughters Den where she also has a 4K TV and upstairs that can be a bit of a blank spot.

I have spent €500 to date extended my network... on top of the €200 for the latest Airport Extreme... I thought the more extenders I used the better I would be..... sounds like I could have been very very wrong...?

Please advise..... :)


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As you have found out, the extenders need space - air space in order to extend the signal. More extenders does not mean better if you have them crammed too tight. Use them where you absolutely need them, then they will work to their best ability.
Cheers again Cheryl for your helpful advice. I have all my various network extenders all connected at their optimum now... Excellent connection displaying on all extenders and their respective Wireless Clients also... so that's as good as I'm going to get it now I reckon. MY broadband speeds are great during the day... I live and work in rural Ireland... so daytime speeds are great as most people head to the city to work during the daytime... but my speeds are very impacted at night time/peak time with many people and children on devices etc.... but at least my network should be delivery the best it can.

I also use PLEX for all my main local media files... I have a MacPro 12 Core (Mid 2010) 64GB RAM + 520GB SSD acting as my PLEX server.... I then usually download full 1080p files... averaging about 8-9GB per movie to stream and view on my Samsung SUHD 4K TV.

Can a network like mine really handle those large type files..? or should I be using smaller files..? or a different delivery method than PLEX streaming for this type of media..?

So far it's fine... but some large files do struggle... I just thought with QTY 2 x Airport Extremes + QTY 3 x Airport Express it would not be an issue... but maybe all networks have a limit..?

Thank you again for all your help and advice.

Many ISPs use the ‘shared’ access to their internet network, similar to a traffic buildup on a highway. When many people are using the highway, you get what we call here in the US ‘rush hour’. Everyone wants to get somewhere at the same time, slowing down the speed of travel because of the crowd. The same is true with internet access on these shared setups. When there is hardly anyone using the cables, your speed is quick and you get downloads/uploads that are amazing. As you have experienced, when everyone is home and checking email or streaming a movie, your connection slows down due to the many people wanting access at the same time. You are sharing the connection and cables used to deliver the content.

There is really nothing you can do to change that kind of access. You can change your habits to work around it, but that has its limits as well. I don’t think you want to wait until midnight to stream a movie or check your emails.

Large files can take a while, no matter what your connection. Adding more extenders will not speed it up. Your devices connect to one Airport, such as your TV. It connects to one source and downloads from there. I have heard of a person who added a second ethernet port to his computer to speed things up. It was two ethernet cables connected from the modem to the computer, creating a super speed for downloads. Now a days, it would be hard to modify your TV or laptop to add a second connection and dedicate a second wifi signal just for it. And it wouldn’t help in the case of an ISP shared access during high traffic times.
You are worried about speed because in this era of 4K streaming actually eating up heavy bandwidth on shared setups in many places like neighborhoods, colleges networks and many other networks!

IMHO this call for streaming 4K videos will stress this USA Internet shared setups and show when it goes to Internet speed the good old USA is far behind the rest of World it is not even funny anymore!

You might think I’m crazy but the more 4K streaming happens it will break the USA Internet setup!
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