My wireless router dies after 30 minutes. Help!
January 16, 2007 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Help me before I kill (my wireless router) again.

The setup: I own a plain vanilla wireless router -- so plain vanilla I am unable to figger out the make/model as I've tossed the box. Upstream is a cable modem; downstream are four clients: two Apple notebooks, one Airport Express (plugged into the stereo) and a G4 (acting as an mp3/torrent server.) All are wireless connections, save the G4; all are authenticated to the network using MAC recognition.

The problem: Every 30 minutes, the router drops the connection. If I check the router's diagnostic page, it says "Acquiring IP from DHCP server." (But it never does.) The only way I've found to fix things is to unplug/plug it back in.

How can I fix this? I've not been able to associate the failure with any network activity, time, or other factor.

Also, I note from reading the router's log that it is running some sort of linux. Can I replace this with a better/more robust/freeware version?

posted by docgonzo to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Try a new router, they are cheap.
posted by caddis at 1:30 PM on January 16, 2007

Response by poster: I have physical access to the router, but there's nothing on the box -- no maker, no model, just a serial # and MAC address -- to indicate its provenance. Further, when I pull up its webpage, there is no relevant information, just a banner saying "WLAN BROADBAND ROUTER."

Here is the bit from the log that indicates Linux:

0day 00:00:14 klogd started: BusyBox v1.00-pre8 (2004.12.03-02:38+0000)
0day 00:00:14 Linux version 2.4.18-MIPS-01.00 (root@localhost.localdomain) (gcc version 3.3.3) #183 Wed Aug 24 15:34:13 IRST 0day 00:00:14 early printk enabled
posted by docgonzo at 1:33 PM on January 16, 2007

Response by poster: caddis: I am aware of that, but would prefer to fix what I've got, if possible, rather than waste $50 when I need not.
posted by docgonzo at 1:40 PM on January 16, 2007

The only thing that has ever crashed my router was using bit torrent at high speed. I have a Linksys WRT54G (an older one) , and I found that changing the firmware to dd-wrt, solved this problem for me.

If your router runs some kind of linux, it may be able to run dd-wrt, but if you can't figure out what sort of hardware you've got, I don't really know how you'll be able to tell if it's compatible.

Is there anything in the log that indicates what went wrong?
posted by benign at 1:43 PM on January 16, 2007

Post a picture of it, or the first few characters of the MAC.

Is this it? This? Is it a netgate?

Without knowing the manufacturer this isnt going to be easy.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:51 PM on January 16, 2007

Oh does it look like the thing on this page?
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:53 PM on January 16, 2007

Okay, BusyBox is a generic embedded version of Linux. v1.00-pre8 is somewhat ancient (February 2004, according to "old news"), as the most recent release appears to be version 1.31.

To summarize: You've got an almost 3 year old generic wireless router with no documentation that is behaving badly and you'd like to update it.

The key's going to be identifying the manufacturer. The start of the MAC address might help. I'd crack the box and look for identifying marks inside. Failing that, A new low end wireless router runs about $50 at most, and might be cheaper than sinking time into researching and attempting to update the older one.
posted by MarcieAlana at 1:54 PM on January 16, 2007

Response by poster: A-ha! I am pretty certain this is it. Looks right, and the initial log output matches what's reported for the GigaFast WF719-CAPR.

Unfortunately, I tried d/loading the new firmware (v 1.40; my router says it has 1.2.5) and uploading the zip file to the router, but it refused it, saying 'invalid file format.' I tried unzipping it (on my OSX PowerBook) and got a folder with a .tmp extension and nothing in it. Going to look at dd-wrt now...

Thanks for all the help so far!
posted by docgonzo at 1:58 PM on January 16, 2007

Response by poster: Yup, looks like the squitter is an identical box -- it's also sold as a CC&C.

Doesn't look like I can put dd-wrt on it; if this misbehaviour is the result of age and/or crapitude of this thing, looks like a trip to BestBuy is in order...
posted by docgonzo at 2:06 PM on January 16, 2007

Sounds like the file you downloaded might have been corrupt.

Usually, the firmware for routers will have a ".bin" extension, or nothing at all. It wouldn't be a zip file.

Before you trash it, I'd ask around over on the DD-WRT forums. If it's running Linux right now, and has a way to upgrade the firmware, I'm almost positive that there's probably a way to get it to run DD-WRT. The major obstacles would just be making sure that the right drivers exist and get loaded for its radio, Ethernet switch, etc.

If you do decide to get a new one, I'm almost positive that someone who's interested in Linux would love to take it off your hands. There's sort of a shortage of Linux-based routers...

Another thing, too. If you can stand with your existing router for a few more days, don't just go down to Best Buy and get some piece of crap from the shelves there. You'll probably thank yourself later, if you can take the time and order a better one off the net. One of the Buffalo, or even in a pinch the WRT54GL (although Linksys' quality control is terrible), that are supported by DD-WRT would probably be good, and you'll have the ability to load a replacement Linux firmware later, if you want. (Like when the manufacturer stops supporting it, etc.) You will probably not find anything that is Linux-based at your local big-box. I just went through this a few days ago and looked everywhere, and the ones they're selling in stores are almost universally the bottom of the barrel.

If you must get one right now, meaning no mail-order, at least do some research (I found some good reviews over at SmallNetBuilder's Router Section) and go to the store prepared. The way that the manufacturers name routers -- completely different models with identical external appearances and model numbers -- can turn purchasing a decent unit into an exercise in frustration, when you bring something home only to check the S/N and figure out it's not what you wanted at all.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:29 PM on January 16, 2007

I may have had a similar problem with my previous router. It would run fine and then die in a few hours. On mine, the router was logging everything, including outside attacks (spoofs and well other stuff I can't remember). These happened every few seconds, and the log quickly filled up. I believe this is why my router crashed. Everything was fine when I turned of logging of these attacks.
posted by Cog at 4:31 PM on January 16, 2007

I second the new router route. I got my Linksys WRT54G for $9.95 after rebate (and the rebate came in less than 4 weeks).
posted by dmd at 5:22 PM on January 16, 2007

I had that same problem - I think it turned out to be interference from other wifi networks as I can see about 6 from my house. For some reason the router was auto picking a channel that conflicted. When I manually assigned an open channel the router started functioning normally.
posted by COD at 6:38 PM on January 16, 2007

Along with the other sugggestions, there is a fairly good chance that the AC adapter is beginning to fail. I've even had a router that died on the WAN side, but continued to function perfectly on the LAN side (or maybe it was the other way around, not that it matters).

Replacing the AC adapter is normally no big deal - especially with switches and routers, in my experience - but there are all kinds of things that can go wrong, sometimes..

Finally, I seriously doubt you have to spend $50 to replace a wireless router. Take a look at ebay, or one of the deals sites (fatwallet, bensbargains), where you should be able to find one of the $10 after rebate deals dmd is talking about.
posted by Chuckles at 7:33 PM on January 16, 2007

I have the exact same issue with my Linksys BEFW11S4 - thanks for the tips! (I know it's an older router, but it was free...)
posted by Liosliath at 11:06 PM on January 16, 2007

I've had similar problems with an Actiontec router. Essentially I was overloading it with too many connections. Edit your torrent software to use half the concurrent connections it's using now and you may well solve the problem.
posted by kc0dxh at 7:55 AM on January 17, 2007

Given your set up (Macs) I'd recommend another Airport Express.

Interestingly, I was in a similar situation. I was hacking a wireless DSL modem as a router connected to my wired DSL modem. It worked pretty well but I couldn't configure it to open a port for my TiVo (and no one had any instructions to do so).

I finally decided easy-of-setup (and the adoration of my family) was worth the price of an Express.

<selflink> BTW, I just blogged this in a post called Spicing Up Your Marriage the High Tech Way. </selflink>
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:59 AM on January 17, 2007

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