Herman I. May

Herman I. May

The May Family


Router consolidation

The last six weeks or so have been somewhat stressful with respect to our home network. We have experienced sporadic loss of connectivity with the 'Net. Trial, error and diagnostics led to the conclusion that the culprit was our Linksys BEFSR41.

Initially, I thought that it may be our service (Comcast) ... again. In the six years we have had broadband, there have been several stretches of poor reliability. However, such was not the case in this instance. It was noted that the red, diagnostic LED would illuminate, on occasion, during these glitches. The only solution being detaching power and rebooting the unit.

At first loss of connectivity would be ... maybe ... once per week. However, as time passed it got to the point of being every few days. Things came to a head Sunday, when, during a twenty-four hour period ending last night at 20:00, the router locked-up five times within one day.

In doing research on the subject over the past week or so (the decision to replace was only accelerated by the events of the last day), I discoverd that issues with the BEFSR41 were not novel. There are at least half a dozen FAQ entries at the Linksys site and I was able to discover many message board postings on the subject. In fact, there appears to be a very specific reference to issues with this model. Nevertheless, we have had nearly four event free years with this router and I had been eyeing an upgrade, anyway.

Venturing out to Fry's yesterday evening, advantage was taken of a promotion whereby a Linksys WRT54G could be procured with a ten dollar instant rebate and $10 mail-in rebate. On top of that, I picked out a box that had been returned and saved an additional five dollars. In the end, the WRT54G will cost a little over US$75.00.

In researching a replacement, I had narrowed my choice to the Linksys WRT54G and the Netgear WGR614. Both had their pluses and minuses. With respect to the former, the WGR614 had two intriguing features that might have proved useful. The first is its ability to support Power-Over-Ethernet (POE101) It also employs some algorithm to dimish (eliminate?) the effects of a DoS attack. Though our gateway receives numerous knocks as the result of Windows exploit attempts by infected machines on the 'Net, neither feature was a particular must have.

The advantages of the WRT54G were that it is a product from a vendor on whose products I have relied for several years. There is also the fact that I already have an SNMP trap for the router logs and the WGR614 only supports eMail delivery of such. So, it did not take much to convince me to stick witth Linksys.

Replacement was a non-issue. I stabilized the BEFSR41 (after arriving back at home I discovered that it had locked-up, again, during my absence), accessed it via the web interface, and spawned multiple tabs containing the settings needing transfer. Another advantage the WGR614 has over the BEFSR41 is the integrated 802.11g WAP. This also allowed me to deactivate our trusted, four-year-old Airport and consolidate the services into one device. The total swap took less than an hour.

One unfortunate side effect was the issuance of a new IP address by the Comcast DHCP server. Since the upgrade necessitated a hardware replacement, I had to remate the SurfBoard to the router. Evidently, this also resulted in the lease of a new address. (A reconfiguration of the cable modem earlier this year — to allow for an increase in down and upstream throughput — required the SurfBoard to be powered down for five minutes. When brought back up, it did not receive a new address.) Not too terribly problematic. However, it required that I edit several configuration files and scripts.

Only time will tell, but I think that we have returned to a state of reliable 'Net connectivity.



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last BBEdited: 2004.04.29