What's wrong with my router?
January 10, 2005 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Last week, I updated my linksys WRT54G's firmware and soon the hardware was dead (I think it was a coincidence). I was stranded without a connection and picked up a brand new WRT54GS which worked ok, but keeps dropping wireless clients and the point will disappear every so often, even though it is only 15 feet away. How can I fix this? (a bit more inside)

Last night, the wireless point was dropping all connections every ten minutes and it was driving me crazy. I eventually got my windows box to retain a wireless connection, but my powerbook is still cutting out every 15 minutes or so, not being able to see the point so it drops all connections and is a pain to reconnect a few moments later when it can suddenly see the point again.

So I'm wondering what I can do at this point because it is driving me crazy. Should I take the point back and buy an access point from Apple? Should I try some open source firmware on the linksys unit?

I've tried using different wireless channels, but none seem to work any better than the default channel 6. I'm at my wit's end here.
posted by mathowie to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You might also try downgrading the firmware back to an older version. Since you changed channels, interference is less likely to be a cause.

From personal experience, Linksys wireless access points are junk. A different access point (Airport Base Station, Cisco Aironet 1100) may save you a lot of wasted time troubleshooting a problem you can't fix.
posted by AlexReynolds at 2:21 PM on January 10, 2005

I've had similar problems with my wireless access point. I eventually gave up and went from wireless to powerline.
posted by forforf at 2:24 PM on January 10, 2005

AlexReynolds may be right. The WRT54G series is great for the whole hackable firmware thing, but I've had some really weird glitches with mine as well. From what I've heard, Linksys has some really mediocre quality control. I had a 802.11b Linksys router that got glitchy, then had a Netgear one that was great. Now I'm on a WRT54G and everything seems to be stable... for now.

Out of curiosity, do you have WPA/WEP enabled? I had some luck with disabling both, then turning WEP and MAC address control back on. Results may vary.

I thought this was just some bad press, but personal experience has shown me otherwise. Needless to say, I'll be refreshing this thread occasionally.
posted by mikeh at 2:26 PM on January 10, 2005

A lot of people complain about heat issues with the Linksys access points, and overheating can lead to the kind of dropped connections/reboots you're experiencing. First things first, I'd try placing it in a better ventilated area if you've got other materials around it. Obviously, going with a different brand of access point will solve this issue as well.

Is there a possibility there's another source of interference, such as a nearby microwave oven or other wireless networks? Frequent dropped connections can happen if the 2.4ghz band becomes saturated, too, although that's typically unlikely unless you're in an apartment building.
posted by eschatfische at 2:34 PM on January 10, 2005

What everyone here has said about the WRT54s. I've experienced a 50% DOA rate on the ones I've bought. I after my last one would drop out completely after about 10-20 minutes, I went to Frys and bought a Buffalo. It was $29 after rebate... g compatible, WPA and plays nicely with my AirportExpress. Sure, the Buffalo will drop out from time to time [I live in an apartment with 4 other WAPs in range, countless phones and microwaves] but will come back up without me needing to restart it. The Linksys one WAP would always need me to reboot it and sometimes that didn't bring it back to life.
posted by birdherder at 2:47 PM on January 10, 2005

Personally I had a really crappy Linksys 802.11b router, which I eventually gave up on. It needed constant reboots, and occasionally tweaking the settings to make it "magically" start working again. It was extremely unreliable, the software was broken, and tech support useless. Even when it was working, it was MUCH slower than it should have been. Like less than 1Mbps.

Recently I bought a Netgear 802.11g router and it rocks. It worked from day one and it's FAST. I'm generally getting 48Mbps now. Besides this experience, every other Netgear product I've owned (three 802.11g adapters, several 10/100 PCI cards, 8 port switch) have been solid. Moral: Go buy a Netgear unit. :)

/Doesn't work for Netgear, honest.
posted by knave at 3:02 PM on January 10, 2005

I should have mentioned I played the firmware game with the Linksys, which is how I got it to even work at all. However, it was never reliable, no matter the firmware revision used.
posted by knave at 3:03 PM on January 10, 2005

That's funny, knave, because I've had exactly the opposite experience. I had a netgear, which was crap and eventually burned out. Now I've got a linksys, which has been working perfectly so far. I think the real moral of the story is that the hardware put in routers is notoriously spotty, no matter what brand you buy. If you start to have problems, return the unit until you get a good one.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:13 PM on January 10, 2005

I've been using a Linksys WRT54G and the only problems I've had with it were caused by me mucking around with the firmware. And it was purchased after the return of an Apple Base Station that had an effective range of around 30' - the option of shelling out for an antenna on top of $200 for the ABS was too much for me to stomach.
posted by jperkins at 3:17 PM on January 10, 2005

I had nearly identical symptoms with a cheapo Linksys BEFW11S4 - it happened with both a Centrino laptop and an Airport Extreme laptop. Constantly having to reboot it (it would kick the connections that were physically connected every 24 hours or so). I eventually just gave up on it.

I wasn't particularly thrilled about the idea of buying another Linksys, but I did it anyway, replacing it with a WRT54G - I put the Sveasoft firmware on it a month or two ago, largely so I could use Airport Express as a bridge. Everything has worked like a dream so far.

I would probably try the open source firmware. If that doesn't work, I'd go back to the factory defaults and take the thing back.
posted by milkrate at 3:22 PM on January 10, 2005

I always use D-Link kit for wireless just because of this. I'm in the middle of replacing a LInksys router at one of my client locations with a nice big linux box.
posted by SpecialK at 3:58 PM on January 10, 2005

I've had various Linksys routers. In every case, the solution which led to stability and happiness involved installing third party firmware.
posted by felix at 4:39 PM on January 10, 2005

at my old job i went through two linksys wireless routers before getting one that worked.

at the job i'm currently holding our d-link wireless/LAN router kept rebooting until i set it on its side (heat issues)


routers suck.
posted by fishfucker at 5:00 PM on January 10, 2005

I have the WRT54G, and love it to death. I would recommend re-flashing your old router, and once you get it working again, take back the new one. You can boost the signal strength with the improved firmware -- but I'd work on reviving the old one first and using it as a test subject. Otherwise the guys at the store aren't going to like you very much.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:23 PM on January 10, 2005

Response by poster: I took my wrt54gs back, got my old 54g working for about ten minutes (using the sveasoft drivers), then it died while I was trying to configure something. Nothing is bringing it back.

So I went to Fry's and bought a d-link router. It actually has a couple features I always wanted but never got in my linksys (like the static DHCP stuff, so I can connect to file servers on the network that will always be at the same IP). It works like a charm, and no drop outs in the hour I've had it running.
posted by mathowie at 7:06 PM on January 10, 2005

I agree with birdherder. My Buffalo hub is dope. And it didn't cost a lot. Very pleased with it, after almost a year f continuous service..
posted by First Post at 8:59 PM on January 10, 2005

Yep, I've been having the SAME issues with my WRT54GS router. Literally sounds as if you could be describing my apartment here...

I haven't found a good solution to this yet. I do change the channel every once in a while, and that seems to help out a bit, but it is really unstable. Let me know if one of the above suggestions works for you, please.

Also, felix, could you post a link to the source of the useful 3rd party firmware?
posted by yellowcandy at 11:00 PM on January 10, 2005

yellowcandy: SveaSoft has some of the best known third party firmware for the 54G.
posted by esch at 8:02 PM on January 12, 2005

This has been a really useful thread as my Linksys WRT54g has decided to crap all over itself and not connect. I'm going to grab some spare cables and make sure that's not the trouble but I think I'll be hitting Staples and getting a new router this evening too.

And no, I will not be going with another Linksys.
posted by fenriq at 9:49 AM on December 15, 2005

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