They Still Don’t Make ’em Like They Used To

Long-time readers will recall that slightly less than a year ago I finally replaced my venerable old Netgear RT314 router with a newer Netgear WGR614 v7 router.

Ever since then, I’ve been battling with an intermittent problem – the worst kind to debug. At seemingly random intervals, the router would reset itself – dropping my LAN connection (and of course any wireless connections) for a few seconds until it finished rebooting.

For a while, I thought it was my Internet connection dropping (and the router was just resetting to reconnect). There wasn’t much I could do about intermittent Internet connection problems (short of going with a different ISP)… but something didn’t seem right.

I wondered why the router would be resetting when the Internet connection was dropped. It seemed a little… unusual.

Since it was an intermittent problem, it was terribly difficult to diagnose. (When you can’t make a problem reoccur, it’s really hard to debug.) But eventually I realized it wasn’t the Internet – it was the router itself. (Coincidentally, it just reset while I was writing this post!)

I had heard horror stories from people that they had to reset their routers frequently, after a certain number of packets had been sent. But that didn’t seem to be the case here – sometimes, it would reset twice in a short period of time (less than an hour), and I knew I wasn’t sending that much data (I monitor my network usage).

It wasn’t terribly catastrophic in the grand scheme of things – it did, after all, work normally after a few seconds of disconnection. But it WAS annoying – and worse, it seemed to be interrupting my on-line backups with Mozy. Although Mozy can recover from Internet connection problems, when the router resets it literally powers off the LAN ports for a moment – causing Windows to react as if the network cable has been unplugged (and producing a message to that effect). This would wreak havoc with any long-term network connection, as you would imagine!

So finally I decided I had sufficient evidence to go to Netgear’s tech support with the problem. After the usual run-around from tech support (upgrade your firmware, reset all your settings back to the default, lather, rinse, repeat, etc.), they told me it must be a hardware problem.

So, now I’m facing returning my router – not a pleasant thought, as the usual routine is to return the defective device (at your own cost) and then wait a week or more while a replacement in shipped. In the meantime, you have nothing.

Although I could always fall back on my venerable old RT314, I now have a Nintendo Wii, which connects wirelessly, not to mention Amanda who works from home at times with her (obviously) wireless-connecting laptop. So no wireless in the house for a week or more was no good.

Fortunately, Netgear does offer a pre-ship option, where they’ll ship you the new unit first, and then you can return the broken one. You pay for it (for the shipping both ways), but it’s not too bad. And it prevents me from having to be without a (wireless) router for a week or more.

So that’s where we are today – the new router is on its way, and when it gets here I’ll return the one I have now. Then, we’ll see if this was just a fluke (a.k.a. bad quality control) or whether the overall quality of Netgear products has decreased from when I bought my old RT314.

I guess we’ll see…

Internet connection icon courtesy of the Crystal Icon Set.

UPDATE: The Saga Continues yet again…

By Keith Survell

A geek, programmer, amateur photographer, anime fan and crazy rabbit person.