If you want a nice router or access point, you can do a lot worse than upgrading a TP-Link TL-WR841N to DD-WRT. The TL-WR841N is inexpensive and reliable, and DD-WRT runs well on it once you get the right build.
You can configure it to be a router, an access point, or a repeater, based on what you need. It usually costs $25 and sometimes you can find one on sale for $20 or even $15, so it’s a huge bargain. Even if you want 802.11ac speeds, a TL-WR841N makes a fantastic secondary access point to improve your connectivity.
Let’s get on with the upgrade. In the case of the TP-Link TL-WR841N (or TL-WR841ND, which uses the same build), it’s really easy–10 steps.
Upgrade your TP-Link TL-WR841n to DD-WRT
1. Download the firmware. There have now been 11 versions of this router. For a while you had to dig for some builds, but as of this writing you can find all of them, even up to v11, in one place. There was a time when v9 and v10 were hard to find, but they’re there too. The version is on a sticker on the underside of the router.
Navigate to the DD-WRT download site, scroll to the end, and click on the most recent date. New builds appear about once a week on average, so that’s why I don’t provide a direct link. Get the newest build for whatever version of the router you have.
Scroll about 3/4 of the way down to the TP-Link routers, and download the appropriate version that matches your router. The version number is on a sticker on the underside. Download both the factory-to-ddwrt file and the tl-wr841nd-webflash.bin file. If there’s both a US and an international version, get the right ones for your country.
A 30-30-30 reset wouldn’t have been a bad idea, but I skipped it.
2. Disable your laptop wireless. Plug the CAT5 cable that comes with the router in between your Ethernet port on your laptop and one of the switch ports on the router.
3. Plug in the router, then turn it on
4. Open a command prompt and enter the following two commands:
5. Connect to http://192.168.0.1 with your web browser
6. Click system tools, then click firmware upgrade. Select factory-to-ddwrt.bin. Click upgrade. It takes a few seconds. Let it reboot.
7. Go to your command prompt and then enter ipconfig /release followed by ipconfig /renew again
8. In your browser, navigate to http://192.168.1.1 (note the change)
9. Set a password when it prompts you.
10. Finally, navigate to administration, firmware upgrade. Log in again if needed. Click browse. Select tl-wr841nd-webflash.bin. Click upgrade.
Configure your DD-WRT router
That’s it. Now you’ve upgraded your TP-Link TL-WR841N to DD-WRT. Now you need to configure it, and if you’re going to use it as your primary router, I have some security-minded recommendations for that. Also, be sure to re-enable your laptop’s wireless before you forget.
I can’t say enough about the TL-WR841N, at least with DD-WRT on it. Mine’s been running nonstop since January 2014 with no problems. It even goes months at a time without dropping a single packet. I can be hard to impress, but the TL-WR841N impresses me.
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