How-To Geek

What You Said: Supercharging Your Home Router


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

Comments (10)

  1. uttaradhaka

    I have a Netgear WNR 1000 v2 router. I’ve been trying for a while to install DD-WRT on it. But on the supported devices list, they have ‘need router donation’ written. But DD-WRT is compatible with v1 of my router. Can you please give me a solution, because I really need to use this router as a repeater as I’m getting a Linksys as my main router. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks :)

  2. R. Pratt

    I only see information listed above about the Linksys WRT, and these FW upgrades have been around for years and years.

  3. leland

    how about telling about a router that hasn’t been mentioned …. NETGEAR would be nice to hear about …..WGT624v4 and/or WPN824v3

  4. John

    I have a D-Link router. I see all these “superchargers” for Linksys routers. Would Tomato or DD-WRT work on D-Link?

  5. Sean Berger

    Could there be a way to supercharge a dual band Belkin router?

  6. Mike

    If a couple of you would take the time to visit the respective software sites you would see which router models are compatible. With a little help from Google, you will also discover that the Linksys routers of the WRT variety are the most popular for this mod. Lastly, and I mean no offense, but if you don’t already know at least the basics you probably have no business mucking around with your router firmware anyway…unless you’re in need of an expensive paper weight!

  7. Argospete

    In Reply To Mike:. Sorry but Geeks like you are the very idiots that put off aspiring computer buffs, remenber, you to were once computer illiterate.

    Trouble with so called know alls is they forget that once they too were dumb thick and blind regarding “PUTA’S” sorry “Computers”.

    I am forever hearing from people who really would love to understand the inner workings to this this mystifying box of tricks , but are put off because their “GEEK” has lost patients or chatted to fast, cut some slack, this site is really for those who could do with encouragement.

    Mike go play with the so called big boys, and leave the learners alone. “BULLY”.!!

  8. cody

    Im running a Trendnet TEW-432BRP as a main router with original firmware and it was alright but the far corner of my house… room in particular has a way of killing wireless anything so i bought a Linksys WRT54G V5 as a repeater off ebay preloaded with DD-WRT firmware and after some mild technical glitches traced back to my main routers security settings its all up and running, im not sure why i didnt do this sooner i went from 40-50% signal in my room to 90-100%, its so good now you dont even notice your wireless and the DD-WRT allows for mild to extreme tweaking to get you setup

  9. moakes

    I was wondering if anyone might be able to offer some tips for “Geeking” my Linkskey LKR-604 wired router. I’d sure like to tweak it and get more speed for my two computers! I pay for Comcast’s “Blast” internet and never get the speeds they claim to offer. Thanks!

  10. Rick S

    Argospete and Mike,
    What struck me funny is both of you guys are right.

    When I learned computers my friendly geek was always there to undo my fixes. Much time invested.
    When he introduced me to Linux there was also much time invested.
    When he introduced me to Google we both gained more time to invest in others.
    Somebody wrote Google is your friend. I agree. lol.
    Now if I could just remember what I learn.

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