If your WiFi router does not have advanced functions like bandwidth control, signal repeater mode etc., then you may have to install the open source DD-WRT firmware in it. The DD-WRT firmware is available for almost every wireless router that can be categorized as one of the Linux based devices. It even supports the devices that comprise of both the ADSL modem and the wireless router inside it. The DD-WRT firmware is an ideal choice for your WiFi router if the manufacturer of the device has stopped releasing new firmware for your device or if you want extra functionalities supported by your device’s hardware that are not provided by the original stock firmware.
If you have decided to upgrade the firmware of your wireless router, then you can proceed using the following step-by-step instructions:
- First of all you have to visit the DD-WRT website and check whether your router is supported. You can click on Router-Database on their homepage, type your router’s manufacturer (e.g., TP-Link) and see the list of models supported. If your device’s model is not listed, then you are out of luck – your device is not supported.
- But if your router model is listed, then you can click on it to open the downloads page from where you can download the firmware files. Typically there are three files – first-time-installation firmware, upgrade firmware and the restore-to-stock firmware. If you are installing DD-WRT first time, then first-time-firmware file is used, upgrade firmware file is used for upgrading already installed DD-WRT and the restore-to-stock firmware file is used for reverting back to your original stock firmware that came factory installed with the router.
- Now use Internet Explorer (do not use any other web browser like Firefox or Chrome) to log on to your router’s web interface. This is done usually by visiting 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 etc., and supplying the username and password. You should refer to the manual booklet that came with the router.
- In the web interface of the router, find and make a note of the MAC address of your router (write down on a piece of paper) as this can come handy. Then select the firmware upgrade section. On my TP-Link router, it is the Firmware Upgrade section under System Tools category. Click on the browse button, select the first-time-installation DD-WRT file and click on the Upgrade button.
- Your router will flash the firmware and reboot. After the reboot you will see the new DD-WRT interface instead of the older interface that came installed with your router. It is suggested that you do 30-30-30 hard reset at this point (read the DD-WRT installation section for the details).
- Now you can start configure the router to make it ready for use with your network (enter SSID, change login password, etc.).
Conclusion: Installing DD-WRT on your wireless router is very easy and can add extra features like repeater mode and bandwidth control. But at the same time, you should take all the precautions before you start upgrading your WiFi router to the DD-WRT firmware.
You can visit the DD-WRT website for details and downloads at http://www.dd-wrt.com/.