Saturday 5 June 2010

Netgear's Broken Firmwares

I bought a Netgear DG834G from Amazon earlier this week. It arrived on Friday, and promptly replaced the crash-tastic BT Home Hub that preceded it. Having been using Netgear products for years, I quickly set up and secured my wireless LAN, made a couple of DHCP reservations for servers on my home network, forwarded ports for various services from the Internet to those servers, hooked up to my DynDNS account, and was content. Then I noticed that the forwarded ports weren't forwarding: my web and mail servers were inaccessible. Much tinkering later, and I decide that the unit is defective, and arrange to return it to Amazon (who, it must be said, have a superbly streamlined returns process).

But I still didn't want to go back to the BT Home Hub—the frequent crashes were just too frustrating. So I dig out an old Netgear router that I found in The Pile in the bits n' pieces cupboard, and find that it still works. And hey, port forwarding even works!

Feeling good about it, I let the old kit do its thing, stable and reliable. So why not treat it to a firmware upgrade? I grab the latest (v1.03.22) from the Netgear product page, re-flash the unit, and port forwarding stops working! Crawling around some forums, I find that I'm not alone. It would appear that Netgear have broken something as fundamental as port forwarding in their recent firmwares!

Incredulous, I download v1.02.19. Still doesn't work (and almost bricks my unit in the re-flashing process). By now more than a little annoyed, I resort to v1.02.13, which I think was the original version. And you know what? It works.

Not all upgrades are upgrades, it would seem.