Linksys vs TP-Link

Linksys vs TP-Link

If you’re looking for the pros and cons of Linksys vs TP-Link, I have experience with both and I’m glad to share it.

Linksys is a well established brand. From 2003 to 2013, they were Cisco’s consumer products division. Since 2013, they’ve been part of Belkin. Prior to Cisco buying them, they were an independent company, founded in 1988. Linksys was the first company to sell 100 million routers.

I don’t blame you if you’ve never heard of TP-Link. They were founded in 1996 but if you were buying their stuff before 2005, you’re well ahead of me.

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The settings saved on this computer for the network do not match the requirements of the network

If you replace your wireless router with another one, your Windows machines may give you a red X along with this error message when you try to reconnect: the settings saved on this computer for the network do not match the requirements of the network.

The quickest, easiest fix is to forget the network and reconnect. Here’s how to forget a network in Windows 7, and how to forget a network in Windows 10.

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Lenovo and Best Buy team up for a $149 laptop this year

Cheap laptops are nothing new this time of year–they’ve been practically a holiday tradition since 2002 when Sotec released a decent laptop for $900, which was jaw-droppingly low for the time–but this year, Best Buy is selling a Lenovo Ideapad 100s for $149.99, which, while not jaw-droppingly low given the number of $199 laptops that were available last year, is still the cheapest name-brand laptop I’ve seen. Note: Best Buy has since raised the price to $199, but Ebay has limited stock of the same item for $129.

I’ve seen some reviews, but there is one thing I haven’t seen anyone bring up yet: This is a netbook in every way, except I think we’re supposed to call them cloudbooks now. So keep that in mind. The machine is probably worth $149.99, but it made some compromises to reach that price point.

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The difference between the TP-Link TL-WR841N and TL-WR841ND

The difference between the TP-Link TL-WR841N and TL-WR841ND

I see people asking about the difference between the TP-Link TL-WR841N and TL-WR841ND (sometimes they just ask TP-Link TL-WR841N vs TL-WR841ND). Since nobody else seems to have answered, I’ll take the question.

TP-Link TL-WR841n
This is the TP-Link TL-WR841n.

Here’s how to decode TP-Link model numbers. This is true of the 841 series, which is my go-to for the moment when I need a capable yet inexpensive router, but also other TP-Link models.

“TL” stands for TP-Link. “WR” stands for wireless router. The numbers tell you where the model stands in the product line. Beefier routers have larger numbers. “N” stands for the type of networking, which, in this case, is 802.11N. “D” stands for detachable antennae.

If you don’t need to be able to detach the antennae to replace them with bigger, longer-range models, you can save some money by buying the N-model. Otherwise, the TL-WR841N and TL-WR841ND are functionally identical. They both use the same DD-WRT build.

More about Pfsense, the alternative to the crappy consumer router

I spent some time over the weekend playing with Pfsense, and I can’t say much about it other than it does what it says. I didn’t throw a ton of hardware at it–the best motherboard I have laying around is a late P4-era Celeron board, and the best network card I could find was, believe it or not, an ancient Netgear 10/100 card with the late, lamented DEC Tulip chipset on it. Great card for its time, but, yeah, nice 100-megabit throughput, hipster.

If you actually configure your routers rather than just plugging them in, you can do this. Plug in a couple of network cards, plug in a hard drive that you don’t mind getting overwritten, download Pfsense, write the image file to a USB stick, boot off the USB stick, and follow the prompts. Then, to add wireless, plug in a well-supported card like a TP-Link and follow the howto. Read more

My impressions of the TP-Link TL-WR841N

The TP-Link TL-WR841N (and the similar TL-WR841ND) is a lower-mid range router that routinely sells in the $20-$25 range. Although many people consider it an off-brand, TP-Link has had a following in the enthusiast community for a couple of years. I’ve been prone to recommend them because they have a better track record than many of the bigger-name brands of continuing to release firmware upgrades that fix security vulnerabilities. If you’re going to buy a router and leave it stock, you’re better off with a TP-Link than anything else.

I only used the stock firmware to load DD-WRT on it though, so about all I can say is that the TL-WR841N runs DD-WRT really well. Read more

No, it doesn’t take a “serious hacker” to crack wi-fi through WPS

John C Dvorak is raving in PC Magazine about Netgear wireless routers and range extenders and how easy WPS makes it to set them up–and providing some very seriously flawed security advice along the way.

“Note that WPS is crackable by serious hackers using brute-force attack, but any SOHO user not dealing with government secrets should be fine.”
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How to be a hero next Christmas (or your next family get-together)

My mother in law didn’t have wifi set up, but she picked up a smart TV this year, so she asked me if I could help her with it. So I picked up a D-Link DIR-615 on sale, brought it with me and set up wi-fi securely (hints: set the SSID to whatever time it happens to be, disable WPS, disable WEP and WPA, and use WPA2 with a long password with some numbers and symbols in it) and once it seemed to be working right, I put her TV and laptop on it. Then, as other relatives trickled in, they asked me for the wireless key. Soon the air was full of Androids and Apples chattering away on wireless.

She said she never realized how often we use our smartphones and tablets. Any time a question came up, someone whipped out a device and looked up the answer.It was nice, and it was a cheap project. Grab a name-brand wireless router on sale, grab a couple of extra CAT5e cables from Monoprice just in case, and you can be a hero for about the cost of dinner for two at any restaurant with sit-down table service. Maybe less.

While you’re ordering stuff from Monoprice, it probably wouldn’t hurt to pick up a small assortment of cheap USB and HDMI cables too, just in case anyone gave an electronic gadget to someone else and didn’t realize gadgets are more likely to come with batteries than with cables these days.

What to do about a router dropping connections

A former classmate and coworker contacted me with a question.

My router is about 5 years old. I have a cable modem and a router. The cable modem is fine. The router keeps connecting and disconnecting from the internet…used to happen occasionally, now happens all the time. I reset it and it works for a while, then disconnects. Is it time for a new router or do you think something else is going on?

I see two options. Read more

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