What is DD-WRT, and Why Would I Need One?

[Cover] What is DD-WRT

Whether it be for personal use or organizational efficiency, you would want your routers to work the best. Many of the ones that you buy though aren’t put to their limit, or may not be suited to your interests. Some, for instance, may not allow VPN’s to run by default, or lack extra security controls. Or, you may want to buy a range extender to cover up your required space, but experiencing a dip in internet speeds is common.

What if you didn’t have to buy one and could get an extended coverage area? What if you wanted to enhance the performance of your router, boosting its speed and improving its functionality, thus turning it into a business-class router?

DD-WRT is the answer.

By installing the DD-WRT firmware, you can overcome the inbuilt restrictions of your router’s firmware,  vastly expanding its capabilities and even unlocking some advanced features.

About DD-WRT

DD-WRT, a firmware for wireless routers and access points, is designed to replace the router’s original firmware with custom firmware – helping you get access to additional features. The firmware, launched in 2005 by a team based in Dresden, Germany is so popular that some companies even ship their routers pre-installed with DD_WRT.

Every router that you buy has a firmware.

The firmware decides what your router’s capabilities are, even if its in-built abilities are more. Think of it as jailbreaking your phone, except that this one’s legal. You can use the in-built hardware acceleration drivers to have your router perform at its full speed. It’s especially useful if you have older routers, as many of these didn’t function according to its capability. The newer ones often fare better on their own, and installing DD-WRT may not make much of a difference.

That being said, the preset firmware of a router can limit its true potential, and you can unlock it by erasing the original firmware and installing DD-WRT in its stead. Do know though that there is no customized support for this firmware, so you need to know how routers work before you try your hands on it.

Features of DD-WRT

DD-WRT boasts a lot of features, some even unique.

  • Advanced wireless mode
  • Accessible to multiple clients at once
  • Bandwidth control and access restriction
  • Strong firewall and security
  • Supports OpenVPN and WireGuard
  • Supports RADIUS and VLink Kai networks
  • Wireless distribution system
  • Supports VPN, PPTP and L2TP
  • Supports 3G/4G VAN

Top Benefits of DD-WRT

Apart from the signal boost, DD-WRT includes better accessibility and personalization.

Compatibility

DD-WRT is compatible with VPN service providers, unlike most other stock firmware. You have open VPN, PPTP and L2TP client options. You can create your own VPN server within the router, which allows you to access the access your home network through VPN any time, from anywhere.

This feature is thus perfect for work and travel. It also allows you to turn any router into a range extender.

Increasing the maximum range

Installing DD-WRT in your router will let it overcome the range restriction set by its stock firmware, thus allowing it to cover more area.

Router Modes

DD-WRT offers an option for creating access points, wireless repeaters or extenders as well as a wireless client bridge for adding wired clients to a network. It also allows you to create up to ten access policies if you wanted to use user restrictions on your network. You can personalize and limit the usage of the internet in accordance with the user, time of the day, or day of the week.

Improved security

Enhances the security of your network. Also has a strong firewall that blocks unauthorized access.

Block services or Enable VPNs the Easy Way

Allows you to shut out bandwidth killers such as torrents, gaming websites, or YouTube, thus saving data. You can also restrict access to websites by using URLs or keywords. On the other hand, you can ensure better VPN support too, having the traffic from all connected devices rout through a secure tunnel – useful if you are worried about your privacy.

Hotspot creation services

Allows you to create and integrate free wifi hotspots.

Option to control bandwidth quality

Allows you to control the quality of bandwidth. For example, the quality of bandwidth can be increased for Netflix and other streaming sites, for better streaming quality.

Performance graphs

Gives you the performance graph of your router so that you can monitor the overall performance of your network.

Frequent updates

Stay updated with security threats, and to expand its benefits and other features. It also fixes bugs very often. Most of the routers will be automatically updated, but some won’t, so you will have to check for the update feature for the model of your router.

Precautions When Installing DD-WRT

  • Make sure that your router is set to its default settings before installation.
  • Hook the router up to a reliable power source.
  • Check if you have the right version of DD-WRT that is compatible to your router’s model.

While installing DD-WRT in your router, get professional help if you’re unsure. Remember, tampering with the router will nullify its warranty, if any. You can read more about the installation process and its does and doesn’t do on this page.

DD-WRT COMMUNITY AND WEBSITE

There is an online community in the official website of DD-WRT where you can sign up and follow up on the latest announcements regarding the firmware, such as upgrades and router launches. You can also ask questions and resolve you queries regarding DD-WRT with the help of the forum. It also facilitates its member to send emails directly to the developers of the firmware.

The Top DD-WRT Routers that You Can Find Today

Amongst routers that come with pre-installed DD-WRT, here are a few that you will love when it comes to performance and accessibility.

1. ASUS GT-AC5300

Presented as a gaming router, this giant can power up to a maximum range of 5,000 sq. ft – a powerful hardware that can connect your entire home. With a 1.4GHz Dual-Core processor and a 512 MB DDR RAM, it offers the cross platform compatibility you are looking for.

Notable features:

  • TriBand router, two bands of 5GHz and one of 2.4GHz, can deliver up to 2.167Mbps and 1,000Mbps of data, respectively
  • Eight external antennas, detachable – almost 30% higher efficiency than normal antennas
  • Eight Ethernet ports
  • NitroQAMTM technology
  • 12 Low-distortion power amplifiers and 3 WiFi Hardware Accelerators
  • Cross platform compatibility
  • Dual WAN (one of the LAN ports can be turned into an extra WAN port)
  • AirProtection

Cons:

  • Expensive and bulky
  • More suitable for advanced users than normal users

2. NETGEAR R7800(AC2600)

This router(R7800) provides you with a personal cloud and comes with features to access the network remotely. With its MU-MIMO and Quad Stream technology you can play games while streaming a movie at 4K in another device without lags.

Notable features:

  • Total WiFi speeds up to 2.53 Gbps
  • 160MHz bandwidth support
  • Uses the Multi-User MIMO and Quad Stream Technology
  • 1.7GHz Dual-Core processor
  • Dynamic QoS that prioritizes internet traffic
  • WiFi coverage up to 2500 sq. ft. and 45 devices
  • Four external high-performance antennas with powerful amplifiers

Cons:

  • Slower performance when compared to other gaming routers
  • The software could be upgraded
  • Expensive still

3. TP-Link Archer A9(AC1900)

Currently the most voted VP router for domestic space, the AC1900 offers durability as one of its strong points. With its dual-band feature and 1GHz dual-core processor, it provides ample network to facilitate a family’s daily needs.

Notable features:

  • Connects up to 15 to 18 devices
  • Maximum range of 3000 sq. ft.
  • Speed of 600Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1300Mbps at 5GHz
  • Easy setup and management with the help of tether app
  • Ethernet cable supported
  • 1GHz Dual-Core processor
  • Affordable price
  • Uses Beamforming technology

Cons:

  • There is only one USB 3.0 port available
  • Not the fastest when compared to other routers, thus can’t be of use in busier and demanding spaces

4. Linksys WRT AC3200

Boasting an adjustable design that allows in-depth customization, this model promises high performance with its innovative design.

Notable features:

  • WiFi smart app that allows you to control devices via the network
  • Tri-Steam 160 technology
  • 5GHz bandwidth
  • 1.8GHz Dual-Core processor

Cons:

  • Complications regarding extra features

5. NETGEAR R6700(AC1750)

More suited for a domestic user than a gamer, it comes with smart parental controls and secure remote access. The top-notch security matched with DD-WRT’s firewall akes it ideal for households with children.

Notable features:

  • 1750 Mbps speed
  • WiFi coverage up to 1500 sq. ft. and 25 devices
  • Multi-layered security of Netgear
  • 4 ethernet ports, up to 1Gbps
  • 3.0 USB port

Cons:

  • Software could be upgraded

6. Buffalo AirStation N300(WZR-300HP)

Pre-installed with DD-WRT firmware, this router speeds up to 300Mbps and has customizable advanced features. The wireless bridge configuration allows you to use gigabit WiFi speeds and helps multiple devices to connect to the networks at the same time.

Notable features:

Cons:

  • Doesn’t support the IEEE 802.ac standard
  • Unfavourable fluctuations in bandwidth settings while in use
  • No external USB ports
  • No external antenna

This list is not in an order of recommendation, as you can see that each model is suited for different user environments. You can choose your router based on where it is going to be installed, or what purpose it is supposed to serve.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wondering what are the top things that you should note when buying DD-WRT? Here is a look at a few questions you may have as a beginner.

What is up with the name DD-WRT?

WRT is short for Wireless Receiver/Transmitter, and DD is the code on the license plate of vehicles in Dresden, where the team that launched the firmware is from.

Which of all places is it suitable to be used at?

You decide the level of freedom and flexibility you need with your router. We talked about how you can use VPN to connect all your devices to the router. It works the other way too. Considering its feature of enhancing the signal of the router and boosting its network speed, it is most suited for workplaces. There is also an access restriction feature, which you can use in a place with minors. The firmware security is suitable for personal use – you can use it anywhere and everywhere.

Is DD-WRT affordable?

DD-WRT is, in fact, a free firmware. All you have to do in order to get it is to visit https://dd-wrt.com to download the version that is compatible with your router. If you are willing to take the risk and if you succeed in installing it instead of buying a more expensive router with in-built DD-WRT, you can save money.

What will happen if I make a mistake in installing DD-WRT in my router?

Any mistake made while installing DD-WRT will risk your router and might “brick” it. If that happens, your router might become completely unusable.

More FAQs regarding the installation and settings of DD-WRT can be inferred from this page.

DD-WRT: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Maximizes range, making it accessible in a larger area
  • Enhances signal boost
  • Levels up security measures and sets up a stronger firewall against threats and malware
  • Network features can be exploited to the maximum, without compromisjng on the stability
  • Open source firmware

Cons:

  • The risk of “bricking” your device that is not pre-installed with DD-WRT
  • Might have some issues such as recurring bugs
  • Some features might not be available on all routers
  • It is more suited for an advanced user who knows how to use and maintain the firmware properly.

Should I Got For It?

In conclusion, DD-WRT is perfect for enhancing your internet experience, and it helps protect your network from breaches and misuse. All of these, while maintaining a better safeguard to your privacy, enabling a hassle-free internet experience.

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Sources:

Ted Webster
Ted is an expert in the field of computers, electronics, and the latest technology.Have a question, need some help, or want to give your opinion? Drop us a comment below!

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