06 September 2021

Netgear Wireless Routers - The Saga Ends

I have been a happy Netgear networking device consumer for a long time. Their small wired eight port hubs have been solid for years. I will even admit to being pleases with their wireless routers too.

But with a change in my home networking design, I really only use either routers as access points rather than firewalls and DHCP servers. My last device purchase was a dedicated access point (WAC-124). I have offloaded those other services to a dedicated appliance for firewall operations. Since Netgear's wireless router software has an access point mode, all should work well.

This all gets complicated by Netgear attempting to make their router management centralized...to themselves. They now require an account at netgear.com to access the admin interface of your home router. I'm sure this is under the guise of "making things easier" for support, but I see it more as a security risk. It's definitely an inconvenience.

The way it works is that I enter the router's IP address which now redirects me to accounts.netgear.com for my official Netgear account login. Once I login to their site (note: not my router), I am redirected back to the IP address of my router. Seems benign, but it turns out to be a point of failure. Recently, I was unable to gain access to my wireless router because after redirecting to accounts.netgear.com, I was blocked by HTTP code 503. I reset my router and tried a few more times. Blocked. There is ko reason to need to go to extra physical steps to directly access this device on my network.

Maybe that's the problem. Maybe Netgear considers this their network since I am using their equipment. This asinine workflow is enough for me to only buy devices reprogrammable with OpenWRT. Linksys is good for this. So is ASUS. And there are other brands not as well known which cater to this sort of configuration. That's where my money will go.

There are some workarounds to Netgear's long way home approach. Disconnecting internet access will let the router time out to direct access. I believe you can connect directly to the device with a cable (maybe disable internet connectivity too?). But you can see the problems with taking those actions. At least give me the option within the router's settings to disable this option, Netgear. It's extra hassle to do something which was once simple.

I'm done with this. Let me access my devices when I want! Give the people freedom!