Many routers have been designed to have a number of features you can customize to fit your needs and preferences. The problem is these special attributes may be limited. If there are routers with better features come along, you have no other choice but to buy a new one. Isn’t that a total waste of money?
That is why it is a good thing we already have the DD-WRT firmware, which “upgrades” your router with great ease and zero charge.
What is DD-WRT?
DD-WRT is a firmware that is meant for a variety of wireless routers. It is an open-source program, so it is constantly on the upgrade and it doesn’t cost you a single cent to download and use. If you know something about product development, you can also tweak it too (though it’s a lot better to do it before you download the firmware). It is based on Linux, though it’s also downloadable even if you’re using a Mac or Windows.
There are many reasons why you’d want to download the firmware. First you want to take advantage some of the features that are not preconfigured in your router (you’ll know these features later on). Second, the addition of the features you like means the non-spending for new routers. Just imagine how much you can save by simply downloading the firmware.
Some of the features that come along with the firmware include the following:
Access restrictions: Not all wireless routers allow you to limit the access of guests to your network, and many of those that do are becoming more expensive. Fortunately, the DD-WRT firmware gives you the ability to do so for free. By limiting the access of guests, you can also reduce the risks of security breach and implantation of malware and viruses, which can destroy your entire network system.
Bandwidth monitoring: Contrary to popular belief, you don’t get “unlimited bandwidth.” There will always be a limit, though if you’re using cable or DSL, the bandwidth limit is high. Nevertheless, if you’re using the same connection for the entire network, the bandwidth is split among users. If someone in the network loves to download movies, you’ll surely experience connection slowdown. By monitoring your bandwidth, you’ll know who uses the bandwidth a lot. You can also use the procedure to determine if someone is “stealing” your bandwidth by hacking into your wireless network.
ChilliSpot: This open-source software allows your humble router to work like a source of public Wi-Fi: only those who are permitted to get into your network can log in.
Quality of Service: Go back to the previous example in bandwidth monitoring. Some activities and devices may require more throughput, but because not enough resources are available, they are very difficult to complete. Worse, the slowness of the speed may cause the loss of certain data. The firmware, however, gives you the quality of service feature, wherein you can allocate the ideal resource to a particular activity and monitor it for balance.
Secured page: If you’re the administrator of the wireless network, then you would be thankful for this one. It simply means that the web management interface is secured or has https:// as an address. This ensures that whatever is transmitted online is scrambled and is difficult to decipher by hackers.
How to Install the Firmware:
Installing the firmware is extremely easy. Perhaps the only reason why you cannot do that is because you have not met the requirements. To begin, you need a device that runs an OS, which can be Mac, Linux, or Windows. You can also use the lesser-known ones. You’re also required to have high-speed Internet connection. Simply put, change your dial-up and pick cable or DSL.
Lastly, you need to have a router that is fully supported by the firmware. You can use Google to find out which routers are compatible with the firmware. It currently supports over 150 devices. If yours is not on the list, you don’t have to worry since the developers are working hard to add more.
It is strongly advised that you read the Peacock Thread or the Broadcom Forum Announcement before you do anything with your router. This is to ensure you’ll encounter no problems during or after you’ve downloaded the firmware. Then check out the hard-ware specific web page, which basically tells you the additional files to download.
If you’re ready to download the file, create a specific folder for it in your device, whether it’s on the desktop or another folder. The most important thing is it doesn’t get mixed with the other firmware. Then using the hardware-specific page and the peacock thread, carefully choose the right firmware to download, followed by the most recent stable release.
Should the files be stored in the zipped file, download the zipped version and just extract everything into the specified folder. Before you start the installation, compare the download to those in the Hashes & Checksums.
Install the firmware (Again, this is a summary. Don’t forget to read and reread the specific instructions.)
One of the biggest dangers about installing the firmware is it can potentially damage your router if you do it incorrectly. In fact, it may make your device completely useless!
When you’re installing the firmware, you won’t be connected to the Internet. This means you won’t have any access to the instructions and files needed for a proper setup. Thus, before you begin the installation process, see to it you’ve downloaded everything you need. To be sure, you may also want to print all the instructions and guidelines.
Read as much as you can. Do your research. Find out if your router is truly supported by the firmware. Learn other people’s experiences when it comes to downloading the firmware. Understand the instructions. If something is unclear, ask help from any of the developers and users. Maximize its Wiki page.
The firmware can definitely help you in a lot of ways. But it also entails careful installation and proper use.