They Don’t Make ‘em Like They Used To

remoteYesterday I found that the Belkin Wireless Router I’d been using as a wireless access point had completely died on me. It simply would not power on – I don’t know if the problem was in the device itself or in its power adapter, but in either case – I had no wireless in my house. While this isn’t a problem for me personally (my computer is hard-wired into the network), it is a problem for Amanda, who often works from her laptop at home – and that connects wirelessly.

With a snow storm (supposedly) on the way, and thus the possibility that she’d be working from home, I needed to get wireless access working again.

First though, a little background.

I’ve been using a Netgear RT314 4-port 10/100 Ethernet Router since around 1997, and I’d never had any problems with it. Being that a router is generally a solid-state electronic component, I had always assumed all routers (and switches and hubs) were just the same – they’d die when their electronics shorted out, but if that didn’t happen they’d last basically forever.

About 2 years ago a good friend of mine got me the Belkin wireless router – I don’t now recall what model (it’s in the trash). Ironically, it didn’t work well as a router – in fact, it didn’t work at all as a router. I never had a high regard for the Belkin brand (as far as routers go, anyway) so I just switched it to “wireless access point mode,” a feature that was very handy. In this mode, all the “router” features were turned off, and it functioned just like a simple wireless access point. Perfect!

So when the Belkin died, I was in no rush to buy another of the same brand – and given the choice between the other 2 leaders (Netgear and Linksys), I’d personally go with Netgear – so that’s what I did.

Given that I had no problems with my current router, I was hesitant to go out and buy a whole new router – why buy what I don’t need, right? But to my surprise, simple, dumb wireless access points cost more than a similar wireless router! So, given the choice between paying more for less, or paying less and getting more, I opted for the latter and picked up a Netgear WGR614 Wireless-G Router. I suppose you could call it the spiritual decedent of my venerable old RT314.

Now, I could have used the new router as a wireless access point and not given up my old RT314 – it would’ve been a little weird, but it would have worked. However, after much consideration, I finally decided to retire the RT313 and let the new kid on the block take on the leading role.

Whatever anyone else says, the setup for the Netgear is quite simple. (Simpler than the Belkin’s setup – which was awful, that’s for sure!) I of course skipped the whole “insert this CD before attaching your router” instructions – I’m a professional IT-type person; I know how these things work.

My old Netgear used the 192.168.0.x IP address range- unlike the dominant Linksys, which always used 192.168.1.x. (I know this because I’ve set up VPN access for people before, and having the right subnet makes a difference.) I was therefore surprised when I noticed the new router used the 192.168.1.x range – I guess they decided to jump on the bandwagon with that one. Still, I like being different (and I have other reasons), so I switched it back – fortunately they still let you do this.

After that, it was just a simple task of entering all my settings from the old router – port forwarding mostly, and of course the whole reason for doing all this – wireless! The web-based configuration for Netgear has gotten a bit “flashy” compared to the old RT314, but that’s to be expected, I suppose. Still, it worked well, no problems and no surprises.

So now, the job of my Internet gateway (starkeith-gw.starkeith.net) and my wireless access point (Aether) are being performed by one device.

As time goes by, we’ll see how well this new router holds up. I’ve heard stories of routers that need to be reset every few days, or that die out after a certain amount of data/packets are sent, or other such nonsense. I think many of these problems come from newer routers and devices trying to do too much, or being made with firmware that was rushed into production, without proper testing.

My old RT314 never had to be reset. Ever.

Oh, I’d had to reset modems before – cable modems (back when cable Internet was still very new) and DSL modems (from time to time) – but never the router.

We’ll see if this new one holds up to the high standard set by its predecessor. Here’s hoping!

Icon courtesy of the Crystal Icon Set.

UPDATE: The Saga Continues