How to Install DD-WRT on Your Router

obrBy Joel Tope — Last Updated: 28 Dec'16 2016-12-23T07:20:43+00:00
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Welcome to Cloudwards.net’s guide on how to install DD-WRT firmware on your router.

Users who want to get the most out of Small Office/Home Office wireless routers, tend to find OEM solutions just don’t offer a lot of value. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) firmware is so bland and feature-poor, it can’t take full advantage of a router’s hardware.

For example, OEM software typically lacks:

VPN termination capabilities

File server features

Remote login capabilities

A router may have the latest and greatest processor, maxed-out RAM and a lot of flash memory; but it will still get hampered by its firmware and lack of features.

This fact leaves consumers to search the Internet for an alternate solution, which boils down to flashing their router with the custom firmware, of either the Tomato or DD-WRT variety.

Today, we’re going to be taking a closer look at how to flash a home wireless router with DD-WRT firmware.

Table of Contents:

 

Before getting started, please note two things.

First, though Tomato and DD-WRT are fundamentally different types of code, that offer different features, the steps to flashing a router are more or less the same for both.

However, because of a few minor steps which vary between the two installation processes, you’ll still want to follow a guide specific to Tomato, if you opt for that flavor of firmware.

Second, just because you want custom firmware, this doesn’t mean you need to install it personally; the process can be done for you, as we’ll discuss next. 

A Convenient Alternative to Flashing Your Own Router

If you’re not technically inclined, it’s better to purchase a router with DD-WRT already pre-installed. Fortunately, users who prefer not to upgrade their equipment personally can buy a router that has DD-WRT or Tomato already installed from FlashRouters.com.

I recommend browsing their website to see what’s on offer. Alternatively, check out our recommendations for the best VPN routers of 2017.

You may be thinking that purchasing a flashed router is useless since it’s still necessary to configure the router for your home environment. But here’s the good news; not only will FlashRouters.com perform the upgrade for you, but they’ll also set the DD-WRT software to accommodate your every need.

FlashRouter.com’s serves customers by pre-installing DD-WRT and Tomato firmware. Also, the service will pre-configure wireless routers, thus making them ready for use right out of the box.

Prerequisites to the Upgrade Process

Naturally, as with any other project, people who want to flash their router will need to gather the necessary resources before getting started. There are several prerequisites, the first of which is a router capable of running DD-WRT firmware.

DD-WRT doesn’t support every router available for purchase from an electronics retailer, check if yours is supported on the DD-WRT routers list.

If it isn’t on the list, you’ll either need to purchase one from FlashRouters.com or buy a supported model from a local electronics vendor.

Lastly, you’ll also need to download the latest .bin DD-WRT installation files.

How to Flash a Router Using DD-WRT

The instructions below will explain how to upgrade a router using DD-WRT.

However, these are general steps and can vary slightly among different router models. That said, since Linksys routers are the most common for home use, we’ll use its interface as our example.

Step 1: Reset the Router

The very first thing to do is a so-called 30/30/30 reset. If you look at the back of the router, a small reset button will be visible.

This reset button is tiny, to prevent it from being accidentally pressed, so a paper clip or pencil will be necessary to push it down.

To perform a 30/30/30 reset first make sure the router is plugged in and powered on.

Press and hold the reset button for 30 seconds (use a stopwatch).

Then, ensuring the reset button is still pressed, unplug the router’s power supply and wait another 30 seconds.

Lastly, while still keeping the reset button pressed, plug in the router’s power supply once again and wait another 30 seconds.

It is imperative to keep the reset button pressed down during the entire time or the reset procedure will fail.  

Step 2: Login to The Web Interface

To log into the router’s web interface, ensure Javascript is enabled. As a side note, some browsers have difficulty loading various routers’ web interfaces.

If the administration page doesn’t load properly, simply try another browser.

In addition, a user must know the router’s default IP address. To open the configuration interface, input the IP address within a browser’s URL bar, preceded by “http://” (for example — http://192.168.1.1).

Instead of connecting wirelessly or through another networking device (such as a switch), it’s highly advisable to connect your computer directly to the router via an ethernet cable.

Make certain the ethernet cable is connected to your router’s LAN port, and not a WAN port.

If you don’t already know the router’s IP address, just Google “Model_XYZ’s default IP address.” Linksys models typically default to a username field that’s blank and a password of “admin.”

Again, credentials vary among different providers, so simply Google the default login credentials if you’ve forgotten them.

Step 3: Upload the DD-WRT Firmware

Before uploading DD-WRT’s firmware, read the following crucial warning:

It is imperative to the setup procedure that you don’t interrupt the process while flashing a router. Doing so could “brick” your router, making it useless. Interrupting the setup process could make it impossible to load new firmware or reset to factory defaults!

In short, DO NOT perform any of the following until the process has completed:

Shut down your computer

Close the web browser

Disconnect a router’s power supply

Disconnect the ethernet cable tethering your computer to the router

 

The process usually completes within two minutes and can be verified once the new DD-WRT login page is accessible from your browser.

Keep in mind each router has a different setup interface. Nevertheless, the configuration options for flashing a router are almost always contained in the “administration” section.

On Linksys models, do the following:

  1. Login to the router’s configuration interface
  2. Click on the “Admin” tab, which is sometimes labeled as “Administration” or “Administrator”
  3. Choose “Select File,” and navigate through your directories to locate the DD-WRT installation file

If a firmware upgrade setting is hard to find, consult the router manual, which can be accessed online.

Step 4: Login to The DD-WRT Interface

During the installation process, lights will usually blink on the router (again, it varies among different router models).

Remember not to unplug the router accidentally or interrupt its installation procedure, or it just might bite the dust.

Upon completion, there should be a pop-up window indicating success. Before proceeding, wait approximately 5 minutes.

Waiting is a precautionary measure that helps prevent improper user interference situations.

Finally, after waiting for 5 minutes, it’s okay to click the continue button if a login prompt hasn’t presented itself. The default IP address should be 192.168.1.1 for most router models, but again, it can vary among various manufacturers and models.

Final Thoughts

The most crucial thing to keep in mind is not to interrupt the upgrade process.

By following the above-outlined steps, flashing a router to DD-WRT should be an almost effortless task that only takes 15 to 20 minutes.

Nevertheless, flashing your router is only the beginning. After the upgrade, you will be able to unshackle the router’s full potential and take better advantage of its hardware with extra features and functionality.

One of the first things a person will likely want to configure is a site-to-site VPN tunnel. Doing so will protect each and every device connected to the wireless network with VPN encryption.

And also unblock geo-restricted sites.

Better yet, users can configure the DD-WRT router to be a:

VPN server

File server

A network sharing device

Again, if the steps above seem too intimidating or challenging, it may be more attractive to purchase a DD-WRT router from FlashRouters.com.

Thank you for reading this guide on how to install DD-WRT on your router; feel free to leave any questions or concerns in the comments below.

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