Better router / access point
August 28, 2008 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Is there a stable router and or wifi access point for home or small office use?

I have a Linksys WRT54g and ADSL via AT&T. While my DSL modem never crashes, the router dies an average of 2-3 times a week requiring a power-off reset. I have tried various configurations, third party firmware, factory firmware, swapped out the router for another of the same model all with similar results. Everything is connected to a power conditioner and battery backup, and I have tried alternate circuits in the house.

I would be willing to spend money to solve the problem, but it seems like everyone I know who has a consumer-grade router from any brand has some complaint or another so I'd prefer a suggestion rather than just buying blindly only to wind up in the same spot.

A combo router / access point would be ideal, but realizing that is less common the farther one moves up the line I'm open to suggestions for a router and access point.

Routers supporting PPPoE and QOS appreciated.

Thanks for the suggestions!
posted by rollo tomassi to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have a Linksys WRT54G running it, and it's rock solid. My impression is that this is typical experience, so I wonder whether you had extraordinarily bad luck and got two bum units.
posted by zippy at 10:04 AM on August 28, 2008

"running it" -> "running the DD-WRT firmware"
posted by zippy at 10:04 AM on August 28, 2008

What generation of the 54G are you using? I've successfully used 2 of the WRT54GL ('L' is Linux, and that model is essentially the same as the first few generations of the 54G) in an office environment combined with Tomato 3rd-party firmware to support 20 people on wireless. PPPoE and QOS are supported on that combo.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 10:06 AM on August 28, 2008

Hmm... I bought a D-Link somethingorother years ago and it never, ever gives me problems. For that matter, I don't actually know anyone who's really complained about their routers, especially in the requires-reboot-many-times-weekly sense. And I'm the go-to tech support guy for easily dozens of people, especially on matters like networking.

I definitely think you have a bum unit. Off-the-shelf commercial wifi router/access points are, in my reasonably-extensive experience, very reliable gadgets aside from often-annoying setup.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:09 AM on August 28, 2008

I'm personally running a number of linksys wrt160n's flashed with dd-wrt, and find them all to be far more stable than any stock firmware, including those from linksys, dlink and netgear.

There are at least 7 models of wrt54g; any except the first 3 generations are pretty bad, and the current ones are terrible - completely neutered hardware. The 54gl is what the 54g used to be before they murdered it. The 54gs is also awful now.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:13 AM on August 28, 2008

Just a thought - do you run Bittorrent a lot? If so, your problem is probably the 5-day timeout on connections that is default on the 54G, filling up your routing table. Most 3rd party firmwares allow you to adjust the active or established connections time-out period. I use 14400 seconds. Linksys uses 432,000.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 10:17 AM on August 28, 2008

Our WRT54G works great, though it does go to la-la land every 3 months or so. I'd try borrowing another one if possible and seeing if that fixes the problem.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:27 AM on August 28, 2008

Linksys WRT54G-L has never given me any problems, in more than a year of use. Haven't had to power-cycle it, ever, and that's with multiple users, some in out-buildings.
posted by everichon at 10:38 AM on August 28, 2008

You definitely have a bum unit. My WRT (running a fairly ancient version of HyperWRT) has uptimes measured in weeks and months, not days. A ridiculously high number of NAT sessions -- several large torrents with hundreds of simultaneous connections each -- can occasionally wedge it if left running for a week or so, but under non-insane loads it will run as long as I care to leave it plugged in. I could even fix the load problem if I bothered to SSH in there and tune the thing. I push as much as 22Mbit/sec across the device for days at a time, have all kinds of peculiar port forwarding and QoS going on, and it just keeps running.

My slightly more featureful SMC Barricade worked reasonably well, but had a habit of overheating under load and dying for a couple of hours every week or so. I had a D-Link device that needed to be reset two or three times per day. The WRT just keeps going and going. The only flaw I've encountered is the occasional incompatibility with Apple Airport Extreme devices, which seem to bring out the occasional odd hangup in the Apple WNIC firmware. That mostly manifests as the Apple device connecting but refusing to pass packets and isn't entirely the WRT's fault.
posted by majick at 10:38 AM on August 28, 2008

The D-Link DGL-4300 has been rock solid for me. I think I had to reboot it once a couple months ago.

I've heard, as others have suggested, the WRT54G-L with custom firmware is a good choice too.
posted by sharkfu at 10:52 AM on August 28, 2008

I've been really happy with my WRT54G with the Tomato firmware, though it has taken a little tweaking to get it to stand up well to prolonged bittorrenting.

We popped for a Cisco 871W at work (~$550 with a 1 year support contract). It has been very stable, with a few caveats.

I tried to use their SSL VPN technology for remote access to the office network for a couple of months and it was a nightmare. First, the support for non-windows clients didn't work. Then they released an update that broke remote access until I found a work-around config (the Cisco techs weren't much help), next I discovered that uploads over an SSL VPN connection were causing the router to lock up completely. I've abandoned the SSL VPN until it matures and things are back to being rock-solid.

I've never tried setting the cisco up for optimal bittorrening. I'm sure it's possible to set up some sort of port fowarding back through the NAT.
posted by Good Brain at 11:40 AM on August 28, 2008

The residential stuff is pretty poorly made. Sometimes its a software issue that upgrading to a custom firmware like dd-wrt solves. Sometimes its a hardware issue that is unsolvable.

You should move up to a soho class device like a cisco 851 or a d-link dir-330.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:47 AM on August 28, 2008

Nthing the WRT45GL with Tomato. I have two running a project right now with ~30 PCs and scanners connected twenty hours per day. Haven't touched them since I installed them.
posted by cdmwebs at 11:57 AM on August 28, 2008

Now I think about it, I've always found draytek routers to be a cut above standard SOHO gear - they've got the RAM to handle large NAT tables for torrenting, too.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:57 PM on August 28, 2008

Even if you're no interested in alternative firmware, perusing OpenWRT's Table of Hardware may be useful. As a general rule, the more RAM the more reliable.
posted by PueExMachina at 1:34 PM on August 28, 2008

WRT54GL running HyperWRT Thibor 15c has been great for me. I also once installed it on a vanilla WRT54G (v. 1.1) and that was a good experience for both me and my non-tech savvy parents who inherited it.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:02 PM on August 28, 2008

Come to think of it, I seem to recall resetting my (stock firmware) WRT54G much more often when we had SBC Global (Now AT&T) ADSL and an Efficient Networks modem. Since we switched to Comcast cable broadband about a year ago I think I've reset it 3-4 times.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:35 PM on August 28, 2008

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