So, you’ve bought a Linksys WRT55AG Wireless A+G router, and now you’ve realized it doesn’t work properly. It drops the wireless connections on random intervalls, it suddenly refuses to open new connections to the outside world and it even crashes completely from time to time! The all round fix for these sorts of problems is always “Just update the firmware!”, but without a firmware update in sight you’re kinda stuck. But fear not! Follow these tricks to at least make this rubbish piece of… kit at least possible to use.
Hey! Stop dropping my wireless connection!
The dropped wireless connections was my first indication that things weren’t all like they should be. They came as a complete surprise too, since the WRT55AG was set up to replace its younger brother, the Linksys WRT54GS, which I had been running for months without a glitch (as soon as the firmware was updated). The 55AG however, would drop the wireless connection up to several times an hour even if the signal quality was excellent. This made it completely useless to do anything but surf the web, as the connection would be down for ~5 seconds while the IP-address was renegotiated through the DHCP-server and all TCP-connections would be broken. Try streaming video, playing games or even staying connected to MSN, IRC or ICQ-servers… Frustrating!
Well, even if this technically doesn’t stop the router from fumbling up the connection to your wireless adapter, it does make the connection drops really hard to spot. What you need to do is set the adapter’s IP, gateway and DNS-addresses manually, instead of relying on the DHCP-negotiation. These addresses are set either in your network adapters software or under the properties of your adapter in the Windows Control Panel -> Network connections -> Right click on the wireless adapter -> Properties, select TCP/IP and press the Properties button.
If you’re not sure what these addresses should be you can follow these instructions as long as you’re already connected to the router:
1) Log onto the router. This is done by opening a web browser and typing in the address http://192.168.1.1 if this hasn’t been changed in the router’s configuration. If it has, you can find the router’s address in Windows by pressing Start -> Run -> type cmd and enter -> ipconfig and enter. The “Default gateway” is your router’s address. The default password is “admin” with no username.
2) In the router’s web configuration utility, press Status -> Local Network. You should see something like this:
DHCP Server DHCP Server: Enabled
Start IP Address: 192.168.1.100
End IP Address: 192.168.1.149
This signifies the lower and upper limits for the IP-addresses the router gives out through DHCP. Choose a random address between 192.168.1.2 and 192.168.99 (or *.150 - *.255) as your network adapters address. Mine's 192.168.1.64, with the subnet mask 255.255.255.0.
3) The "Default Gateway" should be your router's address, probably 192.168.1.1.
4) You can get away with setting the DNS server(s) to your router's address too, but I've seen certain Windows installations acting funny when this is done, refusing to look up several addresses at a time and stuff like that. If you experience such problems set the proper DNS addresses directly. You'll find these in the router configuration by once again pressing the "Status" tab. Under the "Internet connection" tab you'll find something like this:
It's usual to have several DNS-servers. The router supports three, your Windows adapter probably just two. Use two if your ISP supplies them.
There you have it. The router will still technically drop the connection from time to time, but instead of a several seconds long blackout and dropped TCP-connections you'll just experience a short latency burst.
So, you just lost the ability to make new connections to the outside world and no web servers are resonding? But you can still use your local network and log onto the router via the web interface?
This can be "fixed" by logging onto the router, and selecting Status -> IP Renew under the "Internet connection" header. Or selecting Setup -> Save settings. Other selections probably work too. My guess: some buffer has gone full, and it's flushed when the router reboots. *sigh*
So, everything just stopped, and you cannot connect to the router. It's crashed. The lights on the router keeps blinking merrily like there's nothing wrong, but it's gone. Pull the plug, wait a minute, reinsert. Come to think of it, this is how I fixed my C64 when that crashed. No, wait a minute. That had a proper power switch.
In conlusion, if you're on the lookout for a 802.11a router, get something else. You might also want to check out the User Opinions at CNet's. If you already own one it can be learned to live with. Much like most diseases.