Friday, January 16, 2009

Netgear WNR834Bv2 Wireless Router

This post is a follow up on my previous post on setting up the Netgear FVS336G VPN. In this "part two" of the series on the trials and tribulations of the setup and administration of Netgear products I am going to describe a bug I found in the Netgear WNR834Bv2 Wireless Router.

Let me begin by recapping that I am the official Wireless Administrator at the company I work for. I decided that for security reasons it would be best to use MAC Address Filtering. Ever since the iPhone and iPod Touch came out I have been busy adding those MAC Addresses.

One morning I came to work and was met with a bit of panic because the wireless network went down. The usual solution to this problem is to simply reboot the router, but in this case it didn't work. I racked my brain trying to figure out what was going on. I updated the firmware, I reset the router to factory defaults and restored a backup of our settings, and I scoured the internet for any clues about what might be wrong. Finally I remembered that the night before I had added a new Mac Address, it had completely escaped my memory.

I deleted that last added Mac Address and suddenly everything magically started working. I thought to myself, how could a particular Mac Address kill the router? It didn't make any sense so I decided to count the number of devices in the address table. My jaw dropped when I finished the tally. The number was precisely 32, one of those magic numbers in computer science. Earlier, when it wasn't working the count was 33. The router has a bug where if the table has more than 32 entries the router stops functioning.

I admit that this particular router is consumer grade and no home user would probably have 32 devices. However, if a product is going to have a limit, please enforce that limit with the user interface! If the Netgear configuration website had done a simple range check I would have hours of my life back!

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