I spend a fair amount of time providing technical support for friends, family, and the occasional local political campaign. Looking back over the past few years, it seems clear that I’m spending a lot less time helping people with Windows (thank you, Macintosh) but a lot more time helping out with various wireless network problems. Most of those problems seem to be caused by dying routers.
I can’t think of any other network component except for the computers themselves which causes so many problems. I think I’ve had one failed Ethernet card, one Ethernet hub that failed because it wasn’t on a power strip.and practically no other failures.
However, I’m on my fourth (or fifth, if you count a dead-on-arrival) wireless router at home, and I’ve replaced several of them in the last few years. I don’t think any of the wireless routers I installed three years ago still function, and I’ve replaced a few others as well.
What happens? Some of them seem to lose broadcast strength continuously, reaching an ever-smaller radius of computers. When it gets below thirty feet, the convenience of wireless isn’t so convenient. Others lose their minds over time, becoming crashier and crashier, needing resets daily or hourly.
I know that these are much more complicated tools than hubs and switches, sold at SOHO prices. I still don’t understand why they seem to decay so much more rapidly than other SOHO hardware, even when you upgrade the firmware regularly and check up on them periodically. It doesn’t seem to be ventilation - all of these had their own space on a table or shelf, and none of them have felt more than very mildly warm. Other always-on hardware devices seem to do a lot better. (Even my ancient WebRamp still worked when I fired it up to get some DHCP info out of it.)
I know manufacturers would like us to upgrade our network hardware on a regular basis, but it seems unlikely to me that a diverse group of manufacturers (including Netgear, D-Link, Linksys, and Belkin) would build slow decay into their devices.
For my own network and my parents’ networks, I’m currently using Apple wireless routers - I’ll see if they do any better, but I’m not really counting on it.
Any thoughts? Am I just cursed?