If your Wi-Fi at home has been acting up lately, your Google Home ($84 at Walmart) speaker or Chromecast might be the culprit. On Jan. 13, Android Police reported several instances where a Google Home Max ($289 at Walmart) speaker was knocking TP-Link Archer C7 routers offline.
Since then, other devices have been affected by the bug, including other Google Home speakers and Chromecast dongles, as well as additional TP-Link router models and routers from Asus, Linksys, Netgear and Synology. According to comments on Reddit, some Google Wifi ($125 at Walmart) users have also been affected.
Editors' note: Originally published Jan. 16, 2018, this article has been updated to reflect an official statement and forthcoming fix from Google.
TP-Link explains that the issue is caused by the Cast feature, which allows your phone, Google Home speakers and Chromecast devices to communicate. This feature "sends an MDNS multicast discovery packets to discover and keep a live connection with Google products such as Google Home," says TP-Link. Normally, the packets are sent out in 20-second intervals. Following a recent firmware update, for some unexplained reason, when exiting a sleep state, the devices would sometimes send an excessive number of packets (exceeding 100,000, in some cases) to the router, causing it to crash.
TP-Link says the longer the device sleeps, the "larger this packet burst will be."
So what can you do to keep your Google Home or Chromecast from crashing your wireless network?
A fix by Google has not yet been released, though the company told 9to5Google it's "working quickly to share a solution." CNET reached out for comment but Google has not responded.
For TP-Link users, the manufacturer has released official patches for the bug to most of the hardware versions affected and beta firmware for the Archer C1200. Log in to the admin panel for your router and check for firmware updates. For the Archer C1200, you will first need to download the correct beta firmware to your computer and follow these instructions from TP-Link. Installing the incorrect firmware can damage your device and void the warranty, so make sure you download the correct version for your device.
For anyone else affected, there's no official solution yet, but Google says it will be rolling out a fix Jan. 18. Until then, Google suggests rebooting your Android phone and making sure your router is running the latest firmware. If that doesn't work, unplug your Google devices when they're not in use.
According to the Google Home Help article, the fix will come in the form of an update to Google Play Services update, so keep an eye on the Google Play store for the update.