What You Said: Supercharging Your Home Router

By Jason Fitzpatrick on October 7th, 2011

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Earlier this week we asked you to share the ways you’ve enhanced your home router. We’ve rounded up the responses here; read on to see how your fellow readers supercharge their home routers.

Custom firmware rules the roost when it comes to tweaking your router. The majority of responding readers highlighted the custom firmware on their routers and the benefits in provided. Kevin, for example, runs his entire extended Wi-Fi network using DD-WRT:

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.

Trevor notes that DD-WRT is so popular that Buffalo is shipping routers with it pre-installed:

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.

Daymon, like Kevin, also uses extra routers as repeaters:

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.

Although DD-WRT received quite a few nods, Tomato didn’t go unloved. LVDave weighs in with:

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…

Brodiemacnic loves Tomato but wishes it was in wider development:

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.

Rothbart takes the whole DIY aspect of using a custom ROM to a new level by rolling his own router:

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.

For more reader tips and tricks hit up the original comment thread here.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/7/11
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