3 year old router question

Discussion in 'Technical Corner' started by JOhnH, Mar 13, 2019 at 7:57 AM.

  1. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I bought what was supposed to be a really good router around 3 years ago. (Linksys EA6350). It worked fine for a couple of years but lately I have noticed that it doesn't seem to reach as far as it used to. Before, I had no problem connecting with my smart phone from the garage or the yard or the back bedroom. But for the past several months if I go to any of those places, it loses it's connection. All firmware updates have been applied. The newest update is about 1.5 yrs old. I really can't think of anything that changed, but I never used to use more than about 1 or 2GBs of data out of my 6GB plan. Lately though, I have been using 5GB or more, and last month I exceeded my 6GB and AT&T charged me an extra $15 for one extra GB. (They did this on the morning my month renewed and I would have had 6 more GBs to use). But it didn't renew until later in the day.

    I have set a password that I doubt my neighbors could have guessed.

    Do routers "get weak" as they get old? Is there any thing I can check or should I just go buy a new router? I have Spectrum (formerly Brighthouse) Broadband and use their ARRIS cable modem
     
  2. jstro

    jstro Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Have you tried using a different WiFi channel? Newer routers will automatically switch to the one with the strongest signal, but perhaps yours doesn't. New interference in the area from other 2.4 GHz sources might have made your current channel non optimal.

    Regarding your data usage, check for add-ons in your browser that you don't recall adding, and do a malware check if you don't already. My son downloaded some stuff on his account that made his browser continually download data. I got rid of that soon as I saw it.
     
  3. t3chiman

    t3chiman Filing Flight Plan

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    No. They work or they don't. But, as you suspect, they can be compromised/infected/rooted, etc.. There are a few things you can check. Log in to the router's administrative area, check the logs, see if there is lots of traffic to odd places in the world. Sometimes, routers offer a graph of traffic versus LAN IP address; this can point a finger at a culprit. Double check your firmware version, verify it's the latest and greatest. And, obviously, ask around your household members, see if e.g. Netflix is streaming 6 hours a day through your router.

    Don't buy a new router just yet.

    HTH
     
  4. A1Topgun

    A1Topgun Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Signal to noise ratio. 2.4GHz goes through walls better than 5GHz wireless transmission, but the is a lot more interference with the 2.4GHz signal. (remote home phones, microwave ovens, garage door openers, etc.)
    Try searching for ways to get a stronger signal. https://www.lifewire.com/ways-to-boost-a-wifi-signal-818296
     
  5. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If you're in an urban area, check for channel interference. There are phone apps that can show you which channels and bands are getting the heaviest use. Try one that nobody is using. The "best" channels for 2.4 at 20 MHz are usually 1, 6, or 11 (or 3 or 11 for 2.4 at 40 MHz) because those channels minimize channel overlap. But if everyone around you is using those channels, then not so much.

    If you're using 5 GHz, try switching to 2.4 (and vice-versa). Also check for nearby sources of interference or any obstructions.

    Wireless radios often stop working, but it's usually an all-or-nothing thing. I used to get back-to-back calls for router replacements after electrical storms. I suppose they could get weaker or suffer frequency drift due to semiconductor aging, however. That seems perfectly reasonable to me in terms of being in the realm of possibility. But it's not something I've come across. Usually they either work or they don't.

    Rich
     
  6. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    - new neighbor with his wifi turned to 'melt'
    - Comcast activated their WiFi on your modem without asking you for permission
    - Russians
    - planned obsolecence
     
  7. flhrci

    flhrci En-Route

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    What about China?
     
  8. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    They built the router. Probably embedded a backdoor chip to boot.




    Routers eventually get flaky. I had a wrt54g that started to drop traffic after 10 years or so.
     
  9. -KLB-

    -KLB- Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Possibly one of your neighbors has installed some commercial scale grow lights, or a reef aquarium with less than stellar LED drivers. Less and less attention goes into quality control of import consumer products and RF interference especially. There are places where Sirius XM drops out with no obstructions at all. One of them is in front of an aquarium shop.
     
  10. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I will comb thru them tomorrow.
     
  11. WesternSkyz

    WesternSkyz Filing Flight Plan

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    I have been struggling with poor WiFi for about a year. We have a 150 mbps plan and would have problems if more than one device is streaming.
    This is with a Motorola cable modem / router / WiFi AP combo unit (purchased and added to my service because I don’t like renting them).
    I started doing research online and came across the Unifi (Ubiquity) line of products.
    I purchased their USG router, Cloud Key Gen 2+ and the NanoHD wireless access point. The difference has been night and day.

    Essentially what you are doing in this setup is ignoring that your combo unit has WiFi and plugging an Ethernet cable between the Cable modem and the USG. The Cloud Key is the “controller” that lets you manage the system and the access point pushes out the WiFi signal. Both are connected to the USG with Ethernet cables.

    Benefits I’ve seen:

    1) single SSID uses both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz based on device capability and signal strength.
    2) Easy to see client strength and throughput.
    3) System shows channel utilization and is very configurable.

    My wife said “I don’t need to know how it works, but it’s awesome.”


    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVS6ejD9NLZvjsvhcbiDzjw





    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019 at 10:24 AM
  12. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I installed hardwired Ubiquity AP-Pro access points, one on each floor. No problems since.
     
  13. John221us

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    You can do that, but with the current wireless mesh offerings like Eero and Orbi, it isn’t necessary. No need t wire every AP.
     
  14. bflynn

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    3 years isn’t that old, but yes, electronics can age out. The heating and cooling cycles will weaken connectors and over time that can result in a lower signal strength.

    However, I don’t think yours is old enough for that. What I would suspect most is new interference from neighboring devices, especially other routers in your area. The have 11 channels and a negotiation protocol, but what do you suppose happens when you get a 12th device nearby? Or, more than 12 as I’m seeing at our house.

    Best solution is to go wired wherever you can.
     
  15. John221us

    John221us En-Route

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    Your AP is dual band. It is worth considering shutting off 2.4 GHz. While 2.4 does have better range and penetration, 5 GHz has much greater bandwidth and channel range. In commercial applications, this is our go to. We will deploy more APs, but limit to 5 GHz if possible. Again, as mentioned, wireless mesh is a good method (repeaters) for deploying APs without additional wiring.
     
  16. IK04

    IK04 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have replaced probably five routers in the last three years, just simply because they crapped out.

    Consumer electronics are built for profit, not performance...
     
  17. Scrabo

    Scrabo Pattern Altitude

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    I do a couple of things.
    1. Reboot the router occasionally.
    2. Added a Netgear extender - plugged it into an power outlet about the middle of the house, made a big difference
    3. Used a iOS app to display all the channels my neighbors were using and switched to an empty one.
    4. Switch wifi off on any device I am not using (3 iPads, 3 iphones, 2 laptops)
     
  18. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    No doubt the Ubiquity stuff is great.

    Linksys isn't bad at the higher end, but they're pretty crappy at the lower end.

    Rich
     
  19. WesternSkyz

    WesternSkyz Filing Flight Plan

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    My understanding is that most if not all of the Unifi APs are capable of accepting a wireless uplink rather than a wired connection.
    Of course you would need at least one wired in and the throughput would be considerably reduced.
     
  20. WesternSkyz

    WesternSkyz Filing Flight Plan

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    It does cost $ to step up to a solution like Unifi, but for me one of the great features was having one SSID that broadcasts in both 2.4 and 5 GHz.
    Previously I had a dual band motorola access point, but this required two SSIDs: (think MyHouse & MyHouse2.4GHz) Not that convenient when you want fast speed when you are close, but have to switch connections when you move to a room further away.
     
  21. John221us

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    The Pro LR and Lite will do single hop from a wired AP. The do sell an M unit (mesh) that is designed for multiple hops. I have used the M in outdoor scenarios and they work well.
     
  22. weilke

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    Why would I do that if I live in a house that came with cat5e wiring to every room ?

    The Ubiquity stuff has been rock solid. I set iti up once and the only time in the last 3 years that I rebooted the APs was to replace the battery on the UPS in the network cabinet.
     
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  23. sferguson524

    sferguson524 Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Little late to the party, but I am VERY happy with my unifi gear here. Am running the controller on a raspberry pi i had laying around from a home automation project. it's been rock solid and even the mesh AP i have upstairs works quite consistently. Will likely expand it in the future, and when I buy a home, if there's cat6 in each room, will probably put one of the in-wall APs in each room.
     
  24. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'll take wired Ethernet over wireless any day. I use wireless for mobile devices and guest devices. Everything else is wired.

    Rich
     
  25. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Unless you buy a home with steel studded walls, that's probably overkill. Wifi signal seems to travel just fine with the AP on the same floor.
     
  26. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I replaced my 3 year old router with a new $100 Netgear (ACT1750) and I am getting good and consistent connections in the far bedroom, the garage, the yard and even in the park across the street. I made sure I put a good strong password with dual authentication on it).
     
  27. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The best consumer-grade router I've owned is the Linksys WRT-3200acm that I'm using now. I bought it at Sam's Club as an emergency replacement, but have kept using it because it works great. The 5 GHz range is phenomenal. My phone connects to it while I'm turning the corner at the bottom of the hill.

    I had third-party firmware on it for a while so I could throttle Amazon Prime Video; but the recent updates to all the third-party firmware I tried hosed the 2.4 HGz wifi (which I need for one of my own laptops as well as possibly for guest devices), and the older versions used an old, insecure, and unreliable Samba implementation (needed for the attached drive). So I reloaded the updated stock firmware, which is reliable but has sparse features, and used a managed switch to throttle the Roku.

    As it happened, it really wasn't necessary to replace the router. The problem was at the drop. But I'm glad I did because it performs very well. I actually thought I'd be returning it to Sam's Club when I bought it because my previous experiences with Linksys were less-than-wonderful. My plan had been to build a router in a Nuc and use the Linksys as a stopgap. But it's performed very well, so I kept it.

    Rich
     
  28. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    About 6 years ago, the ONLY reason I bought a Mac was because my PC had a virus that I couldn't rid.

    The VERY first time the Mac was booted up......................the same virus popped up!!!

    Turns out, the virus was in my router.
     
  29. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    @RJM62, which managed switch? I've been tempted to build a router/nas using a ClearFog Pro and then hang a Ubiquiti WAP off it...
     
  30. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This one.

    https://www.amazon.com/NETGEAR-Gigabit-Lifetime-Protection-GS108PEv3/dp/B00M1C03U2

    (Netgear GS108PEv3, for those who hate Amazon.)

    I use it to tame the Roku box to 4 Mbps, although yesterday I noticed in my Kindle Fire that Amazon seems to offer quality settings now. I don't know if they're specific to the tablet or account-wide.

    Whatever the case, I still want to throttle the Roku. I only have a 1080p television. It works fine at 4 Mbps. If I start getting buffering, I'll increase it to 6 Mbps.

    Rich
     
  31. sferguson524

    sferguson524 Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Heard that.. Have a LOT of wireless devices (IoT, etc.. As well as some separate networks that I don't want scattered all over the house). For this use case, using in-wall APs and turning the radios way down in the bedrooms seems to be the better fit. Granted, I haven't bought the house yet, or site surveyed. Is a on paper thought for now