Router Reliability, Bloat and Handling of Many Devices

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Atari

New Around Here
My Netgear R800 is a great router or at least it was. Just like every other router I have ever had, the reliability degrades over time. When it is working, it is wonderful. Then it stops working. Dropping connections one by one first wireless, then wired, until nothing works. If I catch it fast enough, I can log in and reboot. If not, I have to pull the plug.

Rebooting it fixes it for a while. Usually a few weeks, then it fails again. If it had the option to reboot nightly, then I would probably be fine. This is the same kind of thing that has plagued me and forced me to upgrade for years.

From my research, there are two most likely causes.

1. OS bloat caused by the increasing amount of crap that gets installed with every firmware update
2. Over time our household has grown the number of connected devices and the system gets overloaded.

Other possible causes include overheating and radios simply dying but I'm pretty sure mine isn't overheating and I don't see how a dying radio would take out the wired connections too.

Does anyone have any data to support this?

If it is issue #1, then going open source seems like a viable option.
If it is issue #2, then it seems like number of simultaneous devices is something that reviewers should include when rating a router.

I'd love to hear thoughts on this.

I'd love to hear which closed source vendors offer the leanest OS and which routers support the most devices. Is it a RAM issue?

Thanks.
 

Grievous Angel

Regular Contributor
I agree. I started with various Netgear routers, then an Apple router, then the AC66, AC3100, and have the AX86u coming today. Each seemed to get "worse" over time. Could be they were designed for a different era and here you are pushing 25 clients to them 5 years later. I would think it would most likely be heat degradation over time though.

Phones do the same thing. I have lots of experience trying to factory reset phones that are a couple of years old...it's just not the same.
 

Atari

New Around Here
So we see the same thing across brands. I can add D-Link to that as well.

Could be heat, in which case it's just a disposable appliance and there is nothing we can do about it.

Or, it could be that it is not designed to support the number of devices I now have. If so, what is it that determines the device count? Is it a limitation of the OS? Is it a lack of memory? Do I need more radios? Something else?

Would offloading the devices onto a wired access point help?

I'm tired of buying new routers. My R8000 does everything I need. I don't want to replace it, if I don't have to.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Other possible causes include overheating and radios simply dying but I'm pretty sure mine isn't overheating and I don't see how a dying radio would take out the wired connections too.
Add a dying "wall-wart" power supply to this list. They are known to cause flaky problems like you describe.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Rebooting it fixes it for a while. Usually a few weeks, then it fails again. If it had the option to reboot nightly, then I would probably be fine
A lamp timer is an low-tech but effective solution for this.
 

Atari

New Around Here
Add a dying "wall-wart" power supply to this list. They are known to cause flaky problems like you describe.

That's a good thought. However, unless these dying wall-warts are rampant issues, I doubt that it would explain why people like me have experiences this same issue over and over across brands. I'm not saying you are wrong, it just seems more likely that one of the variables (OS updates/increased number of devices/something else?) should be the front runner.

Yes, a lamp timer would treat the symptom. That's a good idea and that may be the way I go, however I was hoping for some explanation that would allow me to fix the problem.

Thanks for the input.
 

degrub

Very Senior Member
The wall wart is the first thing to replace. Second is to plug it into a power filter or ups ( preferred) with good filtering. Then see how it goes.
Heat over time is another issue since most of these are passively cooled, built on a tight cost budget, and we tend to place them in places where the S.O. won’t object.
 

Grievous Angel

Regular Contributor
Add a dying "wall-wart" power supply to this list. They are known to cause flaky problems like you describe.
It's interesting that the AC3100--which was a very "beefy" router at the time, came with a wall wart and thin power cord. The AX86U came with a power supply that looks like it could run a PC or laptop, with the two piece cord/power supply and much heavier cord. Mabye Asus is upping their game on this front.
 
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Trip

Very Senior Member
@Atari - No idea how far along the process you are with this, but if you're really tired of the same result by the same means, the the next logical step up here would be SMB/community-grade discrete components: separate wired router, managed switch and access points / mesh nodes. Properly setup, you'll get a network that runs more like a carrier-grade appliance and less like a toy. Along with that you'll get modularity, which makes discrete upgrades of components possible (need more firewall/routing horsepower? just replace that piece. need to go to the next wifi standard? just swap out APs. etc. etc.)

If that interests you, I've made countless posts on the subject with example stacks of gear included, but I'm also happy to guide you here as well.
 

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