Advice wanted on Belkin modem/router

Discussion in 'Wireless Internet' started by Bryan, Jul 1, 2005.

  1. Bryan

    Bryan Guest

    My Belkin works fine, most of the time, but every week or so I find I am
    unable to connect to my server or any 'net address.
    I normally keep the router switched on all day every day.
    In desperation I unplugged the router and left it for a couple of minutes.
    When I plugged it in again everything worked fine.
    This has now happened several times.
    I would like to know if it is OK to leave the thing switched on all the
    time, I do so because I was told it could lose the settings if switched off?
    Also, is there a fault with the router or is it normal to have to switch it
    on and off?
    Many thanks.
     
    Bryan, Jul 1, 2005
    #1
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  2. Which model and do you have the latest firmware installed? You might
    be dealing with a firmware bug.
    Same here with my Linksys BEFW11S4v4. For a long time, I thought it
    was something inherently wrong with the firmware or hardware. Every
    few days, I would find the router section effectively hung. Lights
    were ok, ethernet to wireless bridging just fine, but the router was
    comatose. Cycle the power and it's fixed.

    Eventually I found the cause. I was getting attacked from the
    internet. The attack was hanging the router. I started sniffing my
    incoming traffic and found the attacks. My router is particularly
    susceptible because it fails a few router exploit tests.
    http://www.pcflank.com/exploits.htm
    Mine hangs on two of the test. My WRT54Gv1.1 passes all of them
    without a hang.
    Same here.
    You've performed a "reboot" of sorts. Nothing wrong with doing that.
    That's wrong. It's safe to unplug your router for extended periods.
    Your unspecified model Belkin router has NVRAM (non-volatile memory)
    that will save your settings literally forever. There is no battery
    inside that might discharge itself if there's no AC power applied. In
    other words, you could leave it unplugged indefinately, and still
    retain your settings. Most routers also have a "save settings to
    disk" feature that allows you to backup your settings. If you need to
    reload for some reason, then just upload the saved settings. I use
    this feature for paranoia, but rarely use it.
    Sigh. That's a difficult choice because the answer is half way in
    between. The router should be able to run forever, without crashing
    or getting clobbered from the internet. At worst, it should have a
    "heartbeat" circuit that detects that "something has gone wrong" and
    automatically reboots the router. All my SCADA hardware has this
    feature including the PC's. You should be able to plug, play, and run
    (away).

    However, life is not so simple for a cheap router. The key word is
    cheap. My Cisco, Sonicwall, and Netscreen routers will stay up
    forever. I don't power cycle them after firmware updates. It's
    considered a disgrace to call the NOC and have them power cycle a
    router. However, these are expensive routers from companies that
    consider 24x7 operation a key specification. They will spend the time
    and money to insure that uptime is maintained. That's not the case
    with Belkin and other cheap routers. If there's a firmware bug or
    vulnerability that requires an occassional reboot, most home users can
    live with it. It might get fixed in the next release, maybe.
    However, with product cycles measured in months, there's no incentive
    to make a long life product. So firmware updates stop after a few
    months and the initial bugs become permanent.

    This is one reason I detest Belkin. Their firmware updates generally
    stop at the initial release and never extend for more than about a
    year. Linksys, Dlink, and Netgear all consider it important to update
    their firmware for the latest features and to fix outstanding bugs,
    issues, vulnerabilities, and stability issues on obsolete products.

    Anyway, feel free to turn it on and off as many times or at any
    interval you feel necessary. I don't think one power cycle every few
    weeks is doing all that bad for a cheap router.
     
    Jeff Liebermann, Jul 1, 2005
    #2
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  3. Bryan

    Bryan Guest

    Dear Jeff,

    Many thanks for your excellent, interesting, and exhaustive reply to my
    query, for which I am most grateful.
    You have reassured me on at least one or two points which I raised.
    I hadn't realised that my Belkin was a cheap one as it was recommended by
    several magazines here as their best buy.
    The model is an ADSl Modem with Wireless G Router - 54 Mbps, 2.4 GHz
    Wireless and I use its wireless function to access my laptop anywhere in the
    house and garden, for which it works fine. It does however get very hot,
    which is one reason why I was concerned about leaving it on all the time. So
    far as I know I have the latest software installed as well.

    This is precisely what happens with mine, all four lights working but no
    connection. It's happened from the very start of installation, i.e., every
    two weeks.
    I'll certainly try this site, thanks.
    Unplugging the power lead does seem a rather crude way of rebooting, I
    admit, is there a better way. I believe there is a switch/button which may
    restore original configuration but now sure how it works.
    This is reassuring, about being safe to unplug, I mean. Don't think I have a
    'save settings to disk' feature though.
    Once again, many thanks for your reply, it's certainly given me something to
    think about, particularly when, and if, I buy another router.
     
    Bryan, Jul 1, 2005
    #3
  4. Well, I shy away from recommending specific equipment. Many reasons
    for this including some conflicts of interest. Current favorite is
    WRT54G with Sveasoft firmware. However, even model numbers aren't a
    good guide as many manufactories go through multiple major hardware
    revisions and vendor changes, but retain the same model number. For
    example, there are 4 different WRT54G hardware platforms and I don't
    know how many "Orinoco" mutations. What the reviewer tested may not
    even be the same product. Be careful.

    By cheap wireless router, I mean one that costs less than about $100.
    I don't like combination units and prefer to buy a router and access
    point in separate boxes. If you're looking for quality and
    reliability, then you'll need to spend more money. For example:
    http://www.sonicwall.com/products/tz170SP_wireless.html
    looks much like your Belkin, but costs between $700 to $1200 (list).
    And that's for only a 10 user licence. Cisco 350 series access points
    go for about $570 list and you still need to buy an additional router.

    I could say some nasty things about some of the "reviews" I've read
    but I'll limit myself to just one observation. Very few reviews
    include any type of long term testing. Most often, the test is an
    "out of the box experience" type of gloss over, with zilch on long
    term stability, and always to an impossible deadline. I've done a few
    of these and find myself disgusted at my own superficial review.
    Editors also don't like to allow irreproducible results and transient
    anomalies. If you had to scribble a review of your Belkin, and
    mention of your occasional hangs would be deleted by the editors
    because it can't be easily demonstrated or proven. You also would not
    have had enough time to demonstrate that it was chronic.

    As a rule, I disregard everything in reviews except numbers. If
    someone claims that they got "good performance", I only care how they
    tested performance and what numbers they achieved. Same with range,
    coverage, reliability, etc. No numbers, no value in the review. Try
    the reviews on http://www.tomshardware.com as a good example of what I
    like to see.
    Well, all-in-one units are convenient. But what happens when you need
    to move and find yourself in cable modem instead of DSL country? What
    happens when the next generation of wireless (MIMO) comes out and you
    have to toss the entire package just to replace the wireless part.
    Never mind the latest high fashion protocols in the router such as
    VPN's and support for games that still can't seem to work though the
    router. Actually, the most common complaint I hear is when someone
    buys a VoIP router as part of a package, and can't figure out how to
    "integrate" it into an all-in-one conglomeration. It's the same
    philosophy as hi-fi. All-in-one packages are cheaper and neater, but
    not better or more versatile. (My hi-fi is a mixed mess of all-in-one
    boxes and component stereo boxes. Do like I say, not like I do).
    It might the effects of overheating. At the price, it's almost worth
    the effort to take it apart, drill it full of holes, or maybe add a
    tiny fan.
    I would be interested in your results.
    The button is *TOO* easy. I'm also not sure, but I think it's:
    1. tap the button and it just reboots the router.
    2. hold the button and it clears all the settings.
    There should be something on the Belkin web pile or printed
    instructions. I'm too lazy to look and you didn't supply the model
    number so I can't do it anyway.
    I'm not 100.0% sure, but most routers have this feature somewhere.
     
    Jeff Liebermann, Jul 1, 2005
    #4
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