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Author Topic: In search of ... router recommendations  (Read 3829 times)
barney
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« on: December 18, 2011, 09:02:53 PM »

Folk,

Just got back home after way too much time on the road.  One of the problems I encountered in transit was inability to access my home system via VPN - or any other method, for that matter.

When I got back, I reset the router - unplug, wait fifteen seconds, replug - and all seems well.  But this is getting to be a regular event - the router, I mean, not the road trip  smiley.  It's happening four (4)-five (5) times a month, seemingly on an upward curve  Cry.

'Twould seem advantageous to replace the router, a LinkSys (Cisco) WRT-400n dual-band unit with both bands always active.  Since the router is less than a year old, I'm not too confident of my router-picking abilities.

So I'm soliciting opinions on the various pieces of hardware on the market.  I'd like to maintain the 2.4/5 G capability, if possible.  Don't wanna spend too big a bundle, but price won't be the primary deciding factor.  I'm on a cable modem, and I suspect there is dirty cable input from things that have shown on the TVs.  I also may have dirty AC, but that'll soon be alleviated with another UPS.  Oh, yeah, at least four (4) RJ45 connections, and wireless a must.

Any thoughts ... or experiences?
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Ath
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2011, 03:58:56 AM »

Did you update the firmware of the router to the latest available from Cisco/LinkSys? The management pages in the router should provide access to updates.
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barney
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2011, 10:29:30 AM »

Yeah, guess that should have been mentioned.  Despite my aversion to firmware updates in general, routers be one (1) bit of hardware that I keep up to date.  It has payed off in the past, i.e., resolved issues that were, at the least, somewhat distracting  Wink.
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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2011, 12:55:50 PM »

I've yet to see an N router with consistently good reviews ... So I tend to avoid them. Which is why the USB N dongle that came with my new TV is sitting on the shelf in favor of hardwiring the TV (which I did). If you want to have leave the house and count on it stable access, get separate devices. The added benefit is that you can disconnect the WiFi while you're away.

As far as a good cheap VPN router. The Netgear FVS318 has worked great for me on several small office (low buck) deployments. Happily taking the load of 3-5 people remoting in on a regular basis without needing fiddled with. They also have a new FVS318G Gigabit model.
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barney
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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2011, 02:55:58 PM »

He-he-he.  Mine's working just fine - the TV wireless, I mean.  For some reason, my router issues have yet to affect the TV reception, at least according to Baby Daughter.  She's been enjoying it quite a bit - seems fond of Netflix  Grin.  And I have yet to complete the setup/configuration.  By now, you could probably give me pointers.  I hit the road shortly after acquiring the LG, extremely frustrating  Angry.

The Gigabit model would be the one (1) I'd want.  Don't have much experience with NetGear, mostly LinkSys, D-Link, and one (1) other whose designation I do not at the moment recall.  Do you know off the top of your head whether the NetGear is amenable to the DD-WRT or Tomato firmware?  As long as I'm gonna play, might as well go all the way  tongue.  One of the things that has frustrated with the LinkSys is anything resembling bandwidth measurement or control.
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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2011, 01:33:36 PM »

Tomato firmware?  As long as I'm gonna play, might as well go all the way  tongue.  One of the things that has frustrated with the LinkSys is anything resembling bandwidth measurement or control.

Not a clue on the Tomato firmware...I never have gotten around to playing with it (Perhaps I should on my (8+ year old) WRT54G before it dies).

I played with the LG DLNA thing for a bit, then shut the service down because it used too much CPU time *Shrug* Just not a media guy...
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JavaJones
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« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2011, 06:50:26 PM »

No router recommendations from me but I like Tomato quite a bit. More current than DDWRT, easier to use, less crash-prone (I haven't had to restart my router in... a while, can't remember the last time).

- Oshyan
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barney
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« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2011, 08:36:26 PM »

I've seen several recommendations of Tomato over DD-WRT.  Suspect it'll be on the agenda once I make a decide on what router to get.  I haven't found anything on - durability? - router stability, endurance ... I don't know how to phrase it.  I'd like to find a Jeep router, not a Mercedes  tongue.
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Innuendo
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« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2011, 06:29:55 PM »

Reviews (both from professional reviewers and consumers) have been very favorable in regards to the Netgear WNDR3700. The stock firmware is full-featured (even including a guest access mode) & for those who live on the edge, it's hefty CPU, flash storage space, and RAM make it an utter beast to run DD-WRT on.

Runs right around $90-100. For those who have to have the absolute latest, you can get the successor, the WNDR3800, for $30-50 more.

I detest Netgear as a general rule, but they've done enough right with these two routers that I'm considering putting my principles aside & buying one.

Now as to whether you go Tomato or DD-WRT depends on entirely what kind of user you are.

Tomato - Small, fast, simply elegant in design. Works well.

DD-WRT - A little buggier than Tomato on some releases, but that's due to it bringing all the Big Boy features of the $3,000+ routers to your little box & putting them at your fingertips. The words 'kitchen sink' and 'everything but' apply very well here.

Another factor in deciding what flavor firmware to run is that DD-WRT runs on a lot more devices than Tomato does.

(Oh, and the word you were looking for, Barney, is dependability. A router isn't worth a hoot unless it's always there like a workhorse when you need it.)
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barney
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« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2011, 07:29:21 PM »

Did some digging in the [old] spares bin earlier today.  Remembered why I don't have much experience with NetGear - still have the first - and only - router of theirs that I ever bought.  Lasted about three (3) weeks.  However I'll take a look at the 3700/3800 ... any hardware vendor can make a mistake, equally as well as they can, from time to time, hit a home run.  Part of the decide, though, will likely be whether there's a DD-WRT/Tomato version for it.  I simply cannot afford a router with the editability/capability I'd like to have  Cry tongue..
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Innuendo
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« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2011, 09:06:28 PM »

There *is* a version of DD-WRT for the 3700/3800. Not only that, but it's the current 'star of the day' over on the DD-WRT forums because it is such a beefy router. It handles the largest, most feature-filled build with plenty of resources left over.
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barney
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« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2011, 09:21:03 PM »

Yeah, I went to take a look.  Unfortunately, I also saw the N900 (WNDR4500).  Not on the DD-WRT list (yet), but it's attractive because of the new TV and the N900's purported capability for 3D/HD.  That's something I'll have to bear in mind in the future - if I endanger Baby Daughter's Netflix, et. al., I'll be in serious trouble  tongue.
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40hz
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« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2011, 02:15:37 PM »

No router recommendations from me but I like Tomato quite a bit. More current than DDWRT, easier to use, less crash-prone (I haven't had to restart my router in... a while, can't remember the last time).

- Oshyan

I'll +1 w/JJ on Tomato. Got it running in several places (friends, small clients, relatives) on Linksys WRT-54GLs and it's been a dream. Hardly ever have to do a power-bounce reset on them unless the cable/DSL modem plugged into them had a problem first. Pretty much a joy to own and use.

Not quite so enthusiastic about DD-WRT. With power comes a price - and the potential for glitches.

Unless you need some of the really advanced features DD-WRT provides, I think you're better off with Tomato. Unless you like to get down and play, in which case DD-WRT is a nice big busybox to screw around with. thumbs up

For Netflix, check out the Roku streaming players. A few of our friends use them (wired through Tomato based routers) and they're pretty awesome. Can't say how well they work in a wireless configuration because I don't have any direct experience with that setup. We plan on getting a Roku2-XS in the not too distant future since we're finally dropping DirectTV. (That little red Angry Birds Limited Edition is soooo tempting. Grin )

I'm currently using something called the Untangle Gateway on my home network. My 'router' consists of a small, fairly green (due for an upgrade) headless PC with an 8-port gigabyte switch plugged into it. It's overkill for most people. And I may switch to something else when I upgrade the box it's running on because my requirements have changed a great deal since I first started using it. If I go over to a fixed IP sometime next year I'll probably switch to using pfSense.

Luck!
 Cool
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JavaJones
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« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2011, 03:37:02 PM »

Frankly I feel like if you're wanting the level of power that DD-WRT offers, just get a little box to run PFSense. Pretty sure PFSense can do everything DD-WRT can and more, and if that's not enough you can always run Monowall or another similar mini-Linux router distro. We run PFsense boxes (the Alix ones I linked to) at my "day job" and they work great. You can get models with wireless radio addons if you want, or just buy a cheap(er) "dumb" Wireless Access Point to plug in to your PFSense box to provide wireless.

- Oshyan
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barney
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« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2011, 04:18:08 PM »

Frankly I feel like if you're wanting the level of power that DD-WRT offers, just get a little box to run PFSense.

That would be a great idea, save for three (3) things:  AC power, space & temperature gradient  ohmy
  • A dedicated box would, of necessity, eat more power than a router.  Not a financial problem, but a service problem.
  • A dedicated box would require room, physical space that just does not exist  Sad.  Router can fit on a shelf that won't support a dedicated box.
  • The computer room is 12'x12' and is hotter than any other room in the house by five (5) to ten (10) degrees.  Nice when ol' man Winter is hangin' around, but killer in the summer.  Even in winter, a fan is sometimes required.
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berry
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« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2011, 11:13:35 PM »

Have had a d-link dir-655 for quite some time. Last six months or so, it disconnects whenever a new wireless connection is made. Have to power-off-on reset to reconnect.

Bought a Buffalo WHR-G300N, which was as bad or maybe a little worse.

Just got a ASUS RT-N16 for Christmas, based on a recommendation in another thread. So far, it's been rock solid.

cheers
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JavaJones
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« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2011, 04:51:33 PM »

Er, Barney, you might want to take a look at the actual "little box" link I put in my post. The box in question is the size of - if not smaller than - most routers and uses similar amounts of power, generating little to no heat. The board is 6 inches square and the case for it is not much bigger. As a bonus it's also more powerful than most consumer-level router hardware. A bit more expensive but not that much really. But again this is only a suggestion for people who are talking about DD-WRT offering lots of power and flexibility on consumer-level routing hardware. I'm just saying if that's your interest/aim, might as well get something like the Alix box and run Pfsense. For your purposes I'd much sooner recommend Tomato.

- Oshyan
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40hz
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« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2011, 05:08:35 PM »

Er, Barney, you might want to take a look at the actual "little box" link I put in my post. The box in question is the size of - if not smaller than - most routers and uses similar amounts of power, generating little to no heat. The board is 6 inches square and the case for it is not much bigger. As a bonus it's also more powerful than most consumer-level router hardware. A bit more expensive but not that much really. But again this is only a suggestion for people who are talking about DD-WRT offering lots of power and flexibility on consumer-level routing hardware. I'm just saying if that's your interest/aim, might as well get something like the Alix box and run Pfsense. For your purposes I'd much sooner recommend Tomato.

- Oshyan

@barney - I'll +1 with JJones's entire post above.  smiley

@JJ - glad you got back in there with that. I was going to reply but I thought I'd leave it to you since it was your post.  Thmbsup Wink
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Innuendo
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« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2011, 05:37:00 PM »

Not quite so enthusiastic about DD-WRT. With power comes a price - and the potential for glitches.

Unless you need some of the really advanced features DD-WRT provides, I think you're better off with Tomato. Unless you like to get down and play, in which case DD-WRT is a nice big busybox to screw around with. thumbs up

I read this passage and got to thinking...when was the last time I even messed with my router so I thought I'd take a peek at DD-WRT's status page and sure enough....Time: 18:31:01 up 177 days...

It'd have been even longer, but earlier this year there was a power outage when a tree fell and wiped out a power line killing juice to the entire neighborhood.

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barney
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« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2011, 06:06:13 PM »

OK, sorry  ohmy, I'll take a look.  I automatically assumed - yeah, I know the assume breakdown - that was something like a replaced tower or desktop box  embarassed.  Sorry, I'm just not really focused at the moment.  Too many right now things have surfaced.  Difficult to cope with recently emerged schtuff and maintain a somewhat even keel.  On top of that, whilst in the midst of this response, DHL just delivered my ViDock4+.  And I don't dare even unbox it or I'll be lost to productivity for a day and a half  Sad ohmy tongue.

I do keep the links in these threads, and eventually view them, although not as speedily as might be desired or even prudent.  In fact, DC has a dedicated folder in MyInfo - only, when there'll be time to catch up to it ... maybe January  undecided.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #20 on: December 28, 2011, 08:08:05 PM »

No worries, just good to be aware of all options when you have time to actually properly look into it. But, as I said, unless your needs are very in-depth you might not even want to bother opening the can of worms that dedicated boxes like that and dedicated Linux router builds entail. Tomato does everything I need, we only use PFSense at work because we run a VPN between 4 locations and have multiple subnets and whatnot, plus network partitioning at each location for public/student and private/staff access.

- Oshyan
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barney
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« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2011, 09:23:32 PM »

He-he-he  Grin.

My needs are not all that great - just a minor item of reliability - but I do like to bite off more than I can chew at that particular moment.  'Tis expansive, kinda like my belly  Grin.  Always room to learn a bit more  Wink.  Anyhoo, I'll look at that box ... right after I install my ViDock ... next year  Sad  cheesy.
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