A common problem today is network hogging. Most of us have been there. It used to be a case of a couple of devices in a household. Now everyone in the household seems to have a pc or a laptop as well as an iPod, iPad, smartphone or iPhone. Everyone is using them simultaneously.
Dad is looking up the stock market continually, mum is streaming and on Facebook whilst the kids are playing games and downloading torrents. You might live in a house with several users or you have been kind enough but now regret letting your next door neighbours use your connection.
All of a sudden you are having problems with your internet speed and connection. You notice that everything is fine until that peak time when everyone logs on. Opening up even a simple website in your browser becomes a problem.
The bandwidth is the bit-rate of available or consumed information capacity. It is typically expressed as metric multiples of bits per second. When several users are on the same network the internet connection speed will be split among the users. The result unsurprisingly is a significant reduction in internet speed.
So what do you do? The simple solution would be to talk to the offenders but that rarely works. You need a solution to limit bandwidth for various users whilst maintaining your own internet connection speed.
The answer is a router that has a QoS policy. The QoS (Quality of Service) refers to the router having the capability to allow better service to selected users. You can set absolute limits on the inbound rates of particular users. For example you could limit users to a max of 1m/sec. The simple answer is that any router with a bandwidth control will solve this problem such as high end asus or tplink router.
Installing a custom firmware on your Wi-Fi router is another option. Not only will it give you the QoS policy you are looking for but it will also increase security and improve your Wi-Fi signal. In fact there are lots of firmware features. Let’s take a look.
The big three on the market are DD-WRT, OpenWRT & Tomato. They all have the following features:
- Advanced QoS
- VPN Support
- Advanced Wireless Modes
- Access Control
- Traffic Analysis
- Guest Networks
- Install Torrent & VPN Clients
How to Choose the Best Firmware to Supercharge Your Wi-Fi Router
When you are deciding which firmware to buy the first thing to do is to google the model of your router to check compatibility. This will give you the options available to you. It may be that there is only one option or several. Check out which is best for you and follow the installation instructions.
A word of warning though. If you choose the wrong firmware or you install it incorrectly you run the risk of bricking your router. Ie.you break it and you wont be covered by your warranty. Check out tutorials on the internet that will help you install your firmware successfully.
Which Firmware Should I Choose?
So you have decided to super charge your router but which firmware to choose from. Here is a rundown on DD-WRT, OpenWRT and Tomato, by far the most popular on the market.
OpenWRT is the original firmware. It is based on the Linux kernel, is customisable and has loads of extra features. OpenWRT supports high-end home router as well as travel routers. Whilst it has the most add-ons it can be difficult to install. By choosing OpenWRT you will undoubtedly have more control of your router than its’ competitors however it is not the most popular choice due to difficulty in set-up which scares many away.
However there are lots of guides out there, so if you think you are up to the job this could be the choice for you. With the addition of a GUI interface, installation has become easier. For experienced users with lots of unsupported hardware this would be a good choice.
DD-WRT has many of the same features as OpenWRT. You will find all the same features such as QoS, access control as well as the option to set up your own VPN. It has a cool feature called Wake-On-LAN, which enables the user to put the computers on a home network “to sleep” and connect to them whilst overseas.
It doesn’t support the range of routers that OpenWRT does but many people are attracted by the user-friendly interface. Most common routers are supported by DD-WRT. If you do have any issues the support is great. There are DD-WRT forums where plenty of savvy people hang out. They’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.
Tomato firmware is also a popular choice. Users like it’s easy to use interface. Tomato is simpler than DD-WRT to install and it has a ton of great features.
It has real-time bandwidth which means that you can see everything happening on your network as it is happening which is ideal for trouble-shooting. You shouldn’t have to reboot your router after changes and it’s much easier to boost your Wi-Fi signal than other firmwares on the market.
Access controls and firewall configuration are less of a problem for inexperienced users. The down side to Tomato is that unfortunately it is not compatible with many routers. If you are a new user than check to see if your router is compatible with Tomato as this could be the option for you.
Scared To Upgrade Yourself?
Most people find that one of these three options will give you everything you need. If you don’t think you are up to the task then invest in a router with pre-installed firmware.
The good news is that there is an answer out there for everyone. No longer do you have to get exasperated when you can’t download a torrent because someone else is using your network to do the exact same thing.