Supercharge your old router

Free third-party firmware can give your old router all new features.

I just bought a new router and have this old Linksys WRT54GS just lying around now. But rather than ditch it, I'm going to give it some new life with new third-party firmware. Watch our video then refer to this story for all the steps.

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Every router has software that runs on it. We're going to change that software from the factory default to an open-source version. Whether you're replacing your old router or just frustrated with your new one, there are a few reasons you might want to do this.

My Linksys can only act as an access point for turning my Internet into wireless. The Tomato firmware I'm going to put on here will let it act as a bridge, allowing machines in my house that don't have Wi-Fi actually access the network wirelessly.

It can also act as a site-survey tool, giving me the strengths of nearby networks, and it can let me know which frequencies they occupy. In a crowded neighborhood, this can help you reduce interference on your network tremendously. Tomato also has a bandwidth-usage monitor. If your ISP has a cap on bandwidth, this is indispensable in telling if you're close to the cap. There are also other features, like Wake on LAN, Static DHCP, and more.

How to do it
There are many third-party firmware options out there; some work better with specific routers. Look around at DD-WRT, FreeWRT, Tarifa, and others to find one that works with your router. I'm using Tomato, which says it works with Linksys WRT54GS V1 through V4.

Look underneath your router for a serial number or more specific model number to match it up.

Then download the firmware.

Extract it to a folder. Read the "readme file" to determine which file goes with your router.

Then connect your router to your computer.

Open the router's Admin screen, as described in your manual. Or just look it up on a search engine.

Click Administration. Click Firmware Upgrade. Select and upload the correct firmware for your router.

Wait for about 2 minutes while the firmware is uploaded and flashed.

Then it should reload to the Tomato screen.

Tomato advises that you may want to reset settings to default, to avoid any minor incompatibilities between the Linksys firmware and the Tomato firmware.

Browse around the FAQ at polarcloud.com for more info on how to use the new firmware.

 

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