Category Archives: router

Cheapest AC Router – TP-Link Archer C7

As an IT geek, it is very annoying when your friends or family members are complaining that your home’s WiFi is slow. Recently I invited a couple of friends for a home party, everyone asks for the WiFi’s password. Although I don’t really so keen to let everyone knows my password, but I had no choice but to share it in the end. So the next thing I have to worry is to change my password. Because I had 4 wireless IP cameras that connected to my old TP-Link TD-W8960N router, so here comes the real problem.

Some of the wireless IP cameras installed on the ceiling of the roof is not easy to change the wireless settings. Overall I had a D-Link DCS-932L, 2 x D-Link DCS-5020L, 2 x Xiao mi IP cameras installed on the roof. It is extremely difficult to change the wireless setting in XiaoMi IP camera. The only and working solution is to take them down from the roof (at least 1 hour for me), do a hard-reset on the these cameras, and then redo again all the installation steps before I put them back on the top of ceiling.

For any D-Link IP cameras that connected to your router wireless, you can followed these steps to change the wireless setting (But make sure you entered the new WiFi password correctly or else I can guarantee that you are screwed!)

Old router unable to handle network loads

The worst part of the old TD-W8960N router is that it mainly designed to handle less than 5 wireless connections and is a very old model for Streamyx connection. I had a friend bought the similar model few years back, we were both the same issues, experiencing slowness every few hours and the router had to reboot daily. Sometimes the administrator page has to reload for few times before I can see any text.

Personally I am not blaming TP-Link on that old model. It was working fine (really) 5 years ago. The model basically designed for telephone internet and not fiber optic. I don’t even had a smart phone that can be connected via WiFI when I bought that old router. Most of us don’t have IP cameras or tablet devices. That’s why I never had the problem until last year.

Neighbors

The nightmare starts when my neighbor installed fiber internet, and he had changed his original Unifi router to a ASUS router. I am not 100% sure what model is that, but I was suspecting it could be ASUS RT-N14UHP or RT-N12HP because I can’t detect his 5Ghz wireless signal and my review testing later proved that I could be right. I had to reboot my old router almost daily, the old router could no longer able to handle my network loads. Because I had more than 15 devices connected to it at a single time!

My Problems

There are a few problems here, so I listed them down,

  1. Lack of Guess WiFi
  2. Slow processing power
  3. Unable to handle > 10 devices
  4. Neighbor WiFi interfere my wireless signal
  5. Have to reboot daily

 

TP-Link Archer C7

I decided to buy TP-Link Archer C7 in the end. Overall this is not a high-end router that suitable for business usage, but it was fairly enough for my home use. As I told you earlier, I had more than 20 wireless devices connected to a router, so this model is good enough to handle all the network loads. And the best part of it is very cheap if compare to other AC router that sold by other brands. I bought it from Lazada.com.my OOKAS with a voucher code. Overall this seller (OOKAS) has a good rating and is able to ship the product quickly than the rest of its competitors. I am not afford to buy high-end router such as TP-Link AC3200 or ASUS one, so I guess it is good that I settle down with Archer C7 that just cost me RM360.

Before made the final decision, I actually done a couple of researches on their Archer C7 TP-Link emulator page in order to figure out what kind of features it have and things that it can do. Anyone who interested on it must be extra careful especially the hardware version. Currently there are V1 and V2. Some of the sellers are selling V1 at V2 price. Overall Archer C7 version 2 can be flashed with third-party firmware. Regardless if you are an IT expert or not please go for version 2 because version 1 is obsoleted.

It comes with 5GHz band, which means it support AC signal. Recently the word “AC” is very popular, but no one really understand why it is important now. In theory, on the 5GHz band and using beamforming, 802.11ac should have the same or better range than 802.11n (without beamforming). The 5GHz band, thanks to less penetration power, doesn’t have quite the same range as 2.4GHz (802.11b/g). But that’s the trade-off we have to make: There simply isn’t enough spectral bandwidth in the massively overused 2.4GHz band to allow for 802.11ac’s gigabit-level speeds. As long as your router is well-positioned, or you have multiple routers, it shouldn’t matter a huge amount.

Good Hardware & Fast Response

The Archer C7 has very fast response. It comes with Qualcomm Atheros QCA9558 (720 MHz) precessor. The processor is good enough to handle high wireless network loads. Moreover I can load the administrator page very quickly compare to my old router. Archer C7 won a few major awards, winning the price-per-performance review test. It support gigabit LAN network, embedded with 4 LAN ports & 2 USB Ports.

1

Easy to setup Unifi and Maxis

If you buy the Archer C7 Malaysia version 2 from OOKAS, it automatically comes with a Malaysia Archer C7 firmware. So it is tremendously easy to setup these local fiber internet by filling up the username & password.

2

Dual Band Selections

If you never had any devices that able to support 5GHz connection, you can just turn it off. Archer C7 let you to runs dual band concurrently. By selecting a dual band you can see 2 SSIDs (2.4Ghz and 5.0Ghz) connections on your phone (if your phone support both bands)

3

Guest Network for your friends or customers

If you are setting up Archer C7 for your small business, it is safe to turn on the guest network. The best of this feature is that any guest that connected to your router would be isolated as a separate network from any active connected devices. So this is important so your guest would have least chance to hack your phone or connected to any public shared drives. You can also setup dual band for your guest network, which means you would see 4 wireless SSIDs if you enable all of them. Moreover, you can setup a bandwidth control for your guests by putting a maximum download or upload limit.

4

Dynamic DNS

It is a standard for most of the TP-Link router have this feature, so nothing I need to explain further here.

1110

Access Control Management & Parental Control

One of the best thing you can do is the access control management page. This page allowed you to set rules for controlling certain IP addresses or certain MAC addresses. You can set either block these as per schedule, or only applied and restrict them to access certain web sites. If you knows the port very well, the rules that you set can be so detailed until port level.

98

Advanced Security

This is a feature to control any attackers outside your LAN from making DDOS attack on your router. Your router can be set to ignored ping packet from WAN port so attacker will thought the IP address that you are using now doesn’t belong to anyone.

7

USB Ports

You can plug in an external hard disk to the Archer C7 USB port so to make it looks like a file sharing system.

5

Conclusion

Overall I am very satisfied with TP-Link Archer C7 router. I can’t believe that I paid RM360+ for so much features on this router. The router performance is very stable, and uptime can reached months without even a single reboot. Although the AC signal hardly penetrate some of my upstairs rooms, but it automatically replaced with the 2.4GHz wireless signal without any problem. So this is a must buy product.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Improve your WIFI signal by diagnosing your networks

It is quite often I received complains from friends and relatives regarding internet problem. What they normally unsatisfied are wifi is slow, having difficulty to connect to certain web page, and even face similar problem when loading Facebook videos. There could be a few reasons behind all these. It can be an Internet Provider issue, router problem, wifi weak, or channels clashing with neighbors.

We will never know the solution if we don’t understand the root causes of the problem that we are facing with. It could be 1 or more causes that I listed above. So the first step is to diagnose the networking problem, and narrow down all the possible angle, so when we know the root cause of it, then we can fix our networks.

Diagnose the WIFI signals

It is always important to diagnose the problem first. So below are a few things we have to try an error before we decide what to fix.

So if you have a router at home, it will be good if it is connected with at least 2 devices. The first one go with a desktop / laptop that connected via a LAN cable (wired), and the second one it is going to be your phone or your tablet device.

Most of the standard cheap router is able to handle less than 5 wireless devices, when you have more than 5 devices,  then you will encounter networking problem.

Slow router processing speed OR too many WIFI access around

If the internet access works good with a wired LAN cable, but do badly with WIFI, then there are only 2 reason why this happened. The first major reason is too many wifi access around. Second reason is because the router processing speed no longer can catch up with all the devices that connected with it. Normally this happened when you have more than 5 to 10 wireless devices that connected to your router simultaneously. The budget way is to disconnect all your wireless devices, and keep only 1 or 2. If the problem is solved, then please consider change your router that can handle more wireless devices.

You still probably can stick with new 2.4GHZ router, but comes with a better processing power. But if after you removed all the devices, and those 2 that you kept earlier are still having internet connection problem, then it must be too many Wifi access around your area, that directly affecting your wifi channel.

If down to this, there is only one solution, is to change to a new AC router (5.0 GHZ).

wave
The different between 2.4Ghz and 5.0Ghz. Source from [http://www.gofetchcomputers.com/blog/]

Could it be Internet Provider Issue?

Yes, potentially it can be an Internet Provider Issue, or broken international cables. If you only use a PC/laptop connected to your router using LAN cable, if the internet is still not met your expectation, then it is most likely an Internet Provider problem.

So I added a flowchart into this post. It will helps you on how to diagnose the slow network problem.

Diagnose Networking