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Ask the Readers: How Do You Supercharge Your Router?

Sure, you can take your router out of the box, plug it in, and use it with the default settings, but there’s nothing particularly daring or geeky about that. What we’re interested in is all the ways you tweak, enhance, and modify your outer for maximum usefulness.

This week we’re taking a look at routers and how, once freed from their stock configuration and firmware, they can really shine. What have you done with your router? Set up Quality of Service tables? Flashed a new and better ROM to run the router? Bridged routers to blanket your house with 100% Wi-Fi signal goodness? Whatever you’ve done to soup up your router, we want to hear about it. Sound off in the comments with your tips, tricks, software tools, and firmware upgrades.

Make sure to check in on Friday for a the What You Said roundup.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/5/11

Comments (54)

  1. MJ

    I’ve always been thinking on using DDWRT on my Linksys WRT610N, but as of today I am busy enough to stop me from trying.

  2. JadenQ

    WNR-3500Lv1 w/ DD-WRT NEWD K2.6 Standard-USB-FTP Generic and QOS by IP for my gaming addications. It has been working peachy for the last two-ish years.

  3. JadenQ

    And apparently, I cannot spell addictions correctly….

  4. Trevor

    I loaded DD-WRT onto my Buffalo router when I first got it and love it. Now Buffalo is shipping with DD-WRT pre-installed, giving you both great hardware and firmware right out of the box. I set mine up for remote access with DynDNS so I don’t ever have to mess around with IP addresses, and then configured all my computers and router for VNC and any other remote access I need.

  5. Bill J

    Trevor — are all new Buffalo routers shipping with DD-WRT? and how to you know before you buy? It’s not always listed in the specs.

  6. Daymon

    I added a simple WiFi repeater in the center of my house, so the main router has a strong signal in the front part of the house, and the repeater gets that signal, and boosts it from that point giving me a good signal in the back of the house, and even out to my deck!

    It’s wireless, and only needs a power source, so it can be easily hidden. I used the original router’s SSID, and just added EXT (extended) on the end, so I know which router I’m connected to at any given time.

  7. LVDave

    One word: Tomato! I have a Linksys WRT54GL, and the difference between the stock firmware from Linksys and Tomato is like night/day.. I’ve tried DDWRT and others, and came back to Tomato. Best f/w for a Linksys router in my opinion…

  8. Indisent

    Tomato!!!

  9. williamknight57

    Alas I have D-Link WBR-2310 and there appears to be no way to supercharge it, but it works great as it is

  10. Kevin

    My main router is a Linksys with DD-WRT. It runs QOS, a private VPN, some port-forwarding and manages my PPPOE connection. (My DSL modem is in bridge mode and is completely passive.)

    I have a couple of other Linksys/DD-WRT units that act as wireless bridges. One of them is connected to a couple of cheap Ubuntu boxes that act as network storage and do nightly, on-site back-ups of all of my data. Now, if I can just find an off-site solution that’s not too pricey.

  11. Rothbart

    I’m using Astaro Security Gateway on a dual-nic dedicated machine. It’s like a super-router/security gateway/firewall/content filter/antivirus scanner/magic widget.

    And… it’s free. I just had to devote a spare machine and electricity to running it. Well worth it IMO.

  12. R.Daneel

    @Daymon – What are you using? I am thinking about boosting my signal to the back deck, and haven’t found anything that appears to be what I need. Thx-

  13. x3geek

    Tomato USB on RT N16 ftw.

  14. Leonardtj

    I am an avid DD-wrt user i have it set up for qos 2 wlan’s (one is a vwlan) wpa2 and it is running on a linksys wrt320n and a second wrt54gs v1.1 set up as a repeater to boost signal to my garage.

  15. Aurora900

    I use DD-WRT anywhere I can. Currently I’m running an Asus RT-N16 with DD-WRT. I also upgraded the heatsink on the CPU and added a fan to help cool it better. As others have mentioned, I also set up a DDNS service on it to keep my network easily accessible when I’m away. Most of the other features aren’t being used… though I would like to set up a guest network.

    One of the more interesting projects I’ve done with DD-WRT though, was my PBX server. I had Asterisk running on a USB drive that was mounted as extra storage space for the router to use. It used to connect to my magicjack account, but I stopped using it as I didn’t really need it.

  16. Bob

    Had never bothered until recently when I wanted to create a bridged wireless network. So I reflashed some existing Linksys wrt54′s with DD-WRT, followed some instructions I found on the web, and voila: bridged wireless network!

  17. Aether

    My Linksys E4200 does everything I need and more. No need for anything else.

  18. Ep

    Use dd-wrt for using a wireless-client mod. Works great. On a second using tomato. There the VPN-Client works great!

    Really good handling and performance with both systems

  19. PhilmacFLy

    I have 2 FRITZ!Box Fon WLAN 7170 at Home, cracked them up with OpenWRT and bridged them. Furthermore i have 2xW500V which are also running on OpenWRT and providing a Freifunk Network for my Neighbours

  20. Roy

    I have two Linksys routers, an E2000, and an E4200, both flashed with DD-WRT. My IP-supplied Thomson DSL router is in bridge mode, and feeds the WAN into my E4200. I love the configurability of DD-WRT – there is endless scope for tinkering. I have a very nice VPN set up and working nicely, and I use WDS to enable the E2000 to extend my wireless range. DDNS is configured is currently broken on my version of DD-WRT.

    I have Wallwatcher set up to analyse the log output from the E4200. It is really instructive to watch the connections, and makes you realise how much communication takes place in the background – Dropbox and Evernote syncing and various bits of software checking home for updates for instance.

    I’ve learned a lot by tinkering with DD-WRT, but something that is rarely mentioned, is that DD-WRT still has quite a few bugs scattered around, and it is sometimes difficult to get good information. DD-WRT info IS available but it is sometimes out of date and divided between the wiki, forums and bugtracks.

  21. Brodiemac

    Over the years I have used Tomato and DD-WRT on a variety of router but mostly on Linksys WRT54G and the Asus models. I find Tomato the easiest to use and even found a custom version that supports USB on the Asus router. It woks very well for network printing but I’ve found it a little difficult to use for a shared network storage. DD-WRT is much more feature rich but you really need to know what you are doing to work with that one. I really wish Tomato supported more routers that is does. It’s really a shame that it doesn’t.

  22. Scott

    What I would like to know is how does one supercharge a router on FIOS leaving all services intact? Can I add mine as the primary and theirs as a slave, if you will, so the service features will continue to work?

  23. Antriksh

    Even though my Linksys does not support a version of DD-WRT with SSH and all, I still love my now Linux based router and its advanced QoS set-up-and-forget features. I am not using a newer router I happen to have lying around because it cannot run DD-WRT.

  24. Brian

    I install it into a router table and use high quality bits so that I get a clean cut. Also add a bearing whenever possible to make feeding easier and reduce burning or scorching of the wood.

    Oh, you meant a network router. Never mind.

  25. Tim Clark

    I am using a wrt54G with Tomato installed as an access point with MAC filtering. I am using a dedicated Smoothwall Express box for my DHCP server, URL Filter, firewall, ad blocker, VPN and transparent Web Proxy.

  26. Blake Drennen

    I use DD-WRT on a linksys 54g. With a laptop wireless card I bridge the connection to a Cisco Switch and give myself 24 ports in a remote location.

  27. Brian

    @Blake Drennen – What Cisco switch are you using? That sounds like a cool setup although sharing across an 802.11g connection sounds a bit tedious.

  28. miry-mir

    what else: Tomato and DDWRT…

  29. Bodasefus

    I use DDW-RT… I have a Airlink N class AR670W… if your router can do the flash,,, give it a try… much better control…

  30. Elaine

    I read this all with interest. I both want and need a better wireless connection but just do not know how . . . . will some one shed some light on stage by stage how to please

  31. EnriqueLFD

    Hi I have been using the dlink I had the worst experience with it any time i try to tweak it it just completely stops working that I had to reset it to factory setting even that its really hard to do its just freezes any ideas

  32. arou402

    I have a Netgear -N WNR2000 (ISP supplied) and there is no support for Tomato/DD-WRT!
    Is there any way to boost these?

  33. Cirric

    I got my first Blu-ray player a few years which was internet ready but not wireless. Downloaded and flashed DD-WRT (carefully!!) and connected it to the player. Works great! BD-Live, Youtube, Amazon, and all from an obsolete Linksys WRT54G. Makes me smile.

  34. J000

    My WRT54G has been working fine for years without modifying anything about it. :)

  35. pete

    I have two Linksys routers a WRT160N I flashed with dd-wrt firmware and use as the main router for my home network. The second router a Linksys E2000 which I also flashed with dd-wrt firmware and now use it as a wireless repeater.

  36. bigredlizard

    From my DSL line, I use a Ultra SPARC 10 workstation to control DMZ access. Then a Linksys with DD-WRT that covers the rear of the house with WiFI. An Ether over power connection feeds the Linksys in the front of the house for WiFi there as well. A wired feed connects the wireless feed for the game consoles (on a separate segment with QoS) and the multimedia PC. One last router has a direct feed to the prime router so my last few workstations can have tabled direct access out.

  37. Bob-El

    I’ve been using DD-WRT in my WRT54G for about 3 years and I like it a lot. There are lots more tweaks and options that were apparent with the Linksys firmware. For a while I had a virtual router configured and hidden for a couple of WEP only devices. For most people DD-WRT has way more options than we know what to do with. For that reason I’ve found the DD-WRT-specific articles from How-To Geeks especially informative and helpful. Especially the QoS article that I’ve put to use. Thanks and keep ‘em coming.

  38. geeknik

    I have a pc running pfSense as my router. load balances 2 internet connections (6mbit dsl and 18mbit uverse). If I was using a Linksys router though, I’d use Tomato.

  39. Nelson Smith

    I am wondering if this will work with my thompson wireless router? It seems that all these programs to speed up internet connections are not for the router that I am using.

  40. dealke

    I have a standard Cisco-Linksys WRT54G wireless router flashed with DD-WRT. It connects via ethernet cable to a Cisco-Linksys WET54G Wireless-G Ethernet Bridge. The bridge antenna has a parabolic reflector attached to it. I build the parabolic reflector based on plans I found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0uYtm-b3O4.

    I receive my internet from the local coffee house via the bridge. My network is separate from the coffee house network and my wireless is encrypted with WAP2 personal PSK.

    I have free & secure internet. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

  41. g725s

    Flashed an E2000 with Tomato VPN and I’m able to control so many aspects of my network. Also able to access it via VPN from a public wifi. I’m sure DD-WRT is good to, never tried it, but I’m really liking Tomato firmware.

  42. Wayne

    I haven’t really supercharged my router(s) but instead my network. Recently switched to the Docsis 3 service from Time Warner so my network is an a little flux right now. The switch added a Motorola Surfboard SBG6580 to my network. From that access point, I have a Netgear WNDR3700v2 that serves as the downstairs bridge and a Netgear WNDR3300 that serves as the upstairs bridge. The downstairs network also includes an Netgear GS605 5-port switch that is included in my entertainment system and directly connected to the Motorola router via Ethernet.

    The WAN connection to Time Warner is a 30 Mbps download with a 5 Mbps upload. Internally, everything connects via 802.11n or Gigabit ethernet.

  43. Hackman101

    Thanks to your tutorials I was able to set up and run my Linksys router on DD-WRT, that’s working fine with a little overclock. I diassembled the unit and used Artic Silver adhesive to glue on heatsinks I cut up out of an old pentium 3 slot 1 heatsink, just for the heck of it…

  44. markiz

    I would very much like to know how can i put a pppoe connection on my router, in bridged mode? The router is locked and does not allow this. As far as i know, i should put on a custom firmware to be able to do this. Google is full of results, but i’d still like a recommendation that is tested and working.
    Router in question is speedtouch 780 WL .

  45. Ryan Smith

    I have actually taken the wireless system completely out of my router and it still works as a router but just as a wired router.

  46. Kit

    FYI, I hadn’t known what DD-WRT was:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DD-WRT

  47. deno

    Folks,

    I am using optimum online and the router they gave me is piece of garbage ,every time there is a intermittent connection problem and we lose network, inspite of stupid technicians coming and telling us there is no issue, I recently bought a new belkin 750DB which is excellent. I would like to know if I can speed it up even further as optimum claims to have boost speeds of 50 mbps but I am hitting only 50 once or twice a day.. is there a way to tweak this to get up to speed, current speed for LAN is 30-35 mbps, wireless around 27-37 mbps , upload not much around 8

    Thanks

  48. leland

    i keep seeing ways to boost many different routers. My problem, non of them cover Netgear which i am using, plz, if there is any info on how to get something more out of my NETGEAR WGT 624v4 ?

  49. Wayne

    @leland – you can use DD-WRT on your router. Search this site for that firmware or post in the forums and people will give you help. Check out the site as well – http://www.dd-wrt.com/site/index

  50. Richard

    I run Tomato on my Linksys E2000 for 2.4Ghz N, and DD-WRT on my old WRT54G as an access point for 2.4Ghz G. QoS and port forwarding so far, and logging bandwidth usage to my Linux server. I’d like to get a VPN setup working too at some point. I found that the default MTU of 1500 was fragmenting packets – 1300 is the highest I can set it without fragmenting, but I haven’t noticed any performance gain since making the adjustment. Also, the I’ve got the E2000 overclocked to 400 Mhz (354 is stock). Ran it at 480 for about a day, but it was getting hot!

  51. Doug

    Can anyone give me a summary of the benefits of Tomato and DD-WRT? My Belkin Router SW seems to have quite a wide variety of config parameters already – including some great security features, QOS features – and its pretty darn fast for my Comcast connection of 12MBs.

  52. Jack

    How can I configure my old D-Link DI-524 Wireless Router 802.11g/2.46 GHz in order to obtain maximun performance?

  53. Pete

    Gday was wondering if someone can give me pointers or a rundown how to tweak my Netgear modem router model DGN2000 wireless -N ADSL2 have never know much about this peice of hardware my internet speed is 30000/1500mbs im running 3 pcs via ethernet and 2 laptops via wireless some days seems slow to load things was wondering if there is a way to get faster speeds out of it im running win7 64bit cheers

  54. Antwan

    Was wondering if anyone has ideals for the Linksys e1000.

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