ADSL gateway router wireless, D-Link, Linksys, Vigor 2200USB

I first got an ADSL broadband connection in August 2001 and was pleased to receive a green frog type Alcatel ‘speedtouch’ USB modem. This was going to be the answer to my prayers, but soon turned into a bit of a nightmare.

I use a Mac G4 desktop computer and a PC, both of which (naturally) have USB ports and both I wanted to connect to the Internet. Back in 2001 I was working in OS9, even though OSX was just about available. With OS9 I had a chance of setting up the connection for the speedtouch modem and using the mac as a gateway – sharing the internet connection with other machines on the network.

Hah! Network! That brings a wry smile. In 2001 OS9 didn’t actually talk with Windows, and to pass files around needed you to either FTP them across or use a third party piece of software such as ‘PCMacLan’ or ‘Dave’.

To cut a long story short, the Speedtouch drivers didn’t work with OSX, but were fine with the PC. They were, at best, iffy with OS9. Since the modem has a USB connection to join it to the computer there was no way to actually get a router involved, until Vigor released the ‘2200USB’ router. This had two USB ports and was designed for just this kind of situation. Glorious! At last I could use a simple ethernet wire between the router and the different machines, rely on DHCP for the addresses and not have to concern myself with the sharing of the connection – the router handled all of it. What a great piece of kit!

Over time my needs grew and I discovered the joys of wireless networking – I added a G4 Powerbook to the line up of gadgetry, since this had been supplied by work. Of course, the Vigor router doesn’t have a wireless access point, so off I went, cash at the ready, to buy a WAP… I settled on a charming little ‘Netgear’ number. Despite needing a PC to set it up, it was a good deal cheaper than the Apple ‘Airport Basestation’ option. Within a very short time I had a fully working mixed platform network.

I could also now move over fully to OSX and did so with relish! OSX enabled me to ‘talk’ to the PC and at long last, some resemblence of file sharing appeared.

And so it stayed for several years. Occasional firmware updates arrived from Draytek for the Vigor 2200USB and all has been well.

All well, that is, until I noticed that there was an unusual computer listed as having a DHCP address in my Router’s management set up. Hmmm… could it possibly be that someone has detected my WAP and found a way in? Easy enough to do, of course – I didn’t have a password protected network! So, I decided the time was right to upgrade the firmware once more and set about password protecting the network.

And that’s when the troubles began. The latest firmware update seemed to kill the USB ports on the back of my beloved Vigor router. I took the speedtouch modem and connected it directly to the computer and it worked, but not a single thing happened when connected to the router itself. Had I somehow fried the ports? Sigh.

So – thinking that I had too many plugs in too many sockets, and more than enough wiring which was beginning to make spaghetti look neat, I decided to buy a new router with a built in WAP. I chose the D-Link G604T.

Installing it was a breeze – it needed just a couple of settings via a browser on the mac and I was up and runing – the wireless network was humming along at the improved speed of 802.11g (54Mbps) and all semed well. Time to turn on the PC and make sure that wors, too… but it didn’t. The PC couldn’t connect out to the web at all, and strangely it stopped the macs connecting via a web browser as well. On the macs, iChat worked fine and even the internal mail client, First Class, continued as usual… just no web browing. To get it back I had to keep re-setting the router, so I knew this couldn’t be right. I called tech support, who were, to be fair, very helpful. However, try as we might it was just not going to work, so I took the router back to PC World from whence it came, and exchanged it for an identical one.

Sadly this too was no use – I was ��80 down and no nearer finding a solution – D-Link kept telling me their routers were fine, and I was finding that not to be the case. I went into work the next day, rather than work from home, and decided to find an alternative router.

I found the Linksys WAG54G. Perhaps not as pretty as the D-Link model – plus it wasn’t a space saving ‘upright’ model, but right out of the box, with the bare minimum of fuss it was up and running as robustly as you can want. And the PC was fine too – I diodn’t change any settings, it all just worked. Now that’s what a router set up should be like, in my opinion! Three cheers for Cisco!

By now, of course, I had contacted Draytek to ask why the firmware had caused this, and so far I haven’t found out. A couple of emails later – asking me to re-apply the upgrade – and I am still no nearer resolving it. Draytek so seem a good and helpful bunch of folk, mind you, and the product worked flawlessly for nearly four years – always on, always no trouble at all. If I have to return it to get it fixed then I will – it would be handy to have around ‘just in case’, but until then I am over the moon with the Linksys router. Less wires, less hassle, less plugs in sockets, so over all less stress.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Oh! And PC World in all this? They couldn’t have been nicer. The first time I went back on the advice of D-Link and they exchanged the unit right away. A day later I returned the new unit (again after talking with D-Link) but this time asked for a refund. There it was, seconds later, back in the bank where it should have been all along. I normally give PC world a panning whenever I can, but on this occasion they were great.