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I have a Linksys E2000 router, and went to move it today. Upon touch, it was incredibly hot, and this concerned me greatly. I restarted it, and it seems to only be creating a little bit of heat now. But what would could be causing it to get up to such high temperatures? Is this simply a design flaw? Or is connecting many wireless machines to it causing too much work?

It is normally connected to one PC via Ethernet, then up to 6 wireless devices.

My firmware version is 1.0.01 build 7

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Have you tried spraying it out with canned air? There could be a bunch of dust inside, and when the router is under high load, it would cause it to become even hotter. –  ephilip Sep 8 '11 at 22:49
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I blew on it a bit not long ago. –  Simon Sheehan Sep 8 '11 at 22:51
    
Are you positive that, before you moved it, the ventilation slots/holes were not blocked? I've noticed that most people (including "technical" professionals) are rather oblivious to the ventilation requirements of electronic equipment. –  sawdust Sep 8 '11 at 23:51
    
It was in an open area. –  Simon Sheehan Sep 8 '11 at 23:51
    
@sawdust Yes, it was. –  Simon Sheehan Sep 8 '11 at 23:53
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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

There isn't really an easy answer to this.

Many routers (such as yours!) are designed to look pretty and nice with either a few holes on one side, or none at all.

I have some old Netgear routers with ventilation all around the side and some older other routers with big holes on the back.

If you restarted the router and put it back in the exact same spot and the temperature dropped, all I can suggest is that it was under heavy load (just like desktops - higher load = higher heat!), this can be caused by wireless and/or intensive applications such as peer to peer.

If you have access to a debug screen and/or telnet access, you may be able to run a command to determine CPU/memory utilisation.

As for solutions, all I can really suggest is a firmware update if one is available as if other people have had the same issue, they may have a fix available.

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Very nice answer, I'm glad its oriented not just to my own router, but router's in general. –  Simon Sheehan Sep 8 '11 at 22:35
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Yes, obviously doing a lot of work will cause its processor to heat up. For example, running a P2P client, especially if you’ve got firewall rules and such set up in the router, will probably cause it to work overtime and eventually heat up.

Also, yes, having wireless devices will add some heat (after all, the radio waves are radiation), but generally it is not noticeable like you described.

What could be happening is that the router has a bug and a specific set of circumstances has caused it to create an endless loop in a thread or some such that is overloading the CPU. That would explain why resetting it caused it to cool down since the block of code that it was stuck in is no longer being executed.

Consider checking to see if there is a firmware update for it (the latest one is Ver.1.0.04 (build 7); I don’t know what is in your specific router at the moment).

A quick check of the support for the router finds no mentions of excessive heat, so you may also want to consider using one of the options on that page to contact Linksys to report it; maybe it is an as-yet undiscovered bug.

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I am very out of date, using Firmware Version 1.0.01. I shall update it now –  Simon Sheehan Sep 8 '11 at 22:33
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It could also be a literal bug in the chassis. –  Joel Coehoorn Sep 8 '11 at 22:34
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Power turns into heat, mainly by the CPU and the Antennas. A router gets hot when the heat isn't ventilated properly. Factors that can influence this (using DD-WRT for example) are CPU overclocking, CPU utilization, antenna power and the surrounding around the router. In normal conditions, heavy network traffic does not cause heavy CPU power unless you have a cheap router...

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How can I know how much my router can handle before it will be overheated by heavy load? –  Simon Sheehan Oct 7 '11 at 23:37
    
@SimonSheehan: Watch the CPU and Temperature while benchmarking under different loads. This requires firmware like DD-WRT, as I'm not entirely sure that standard router firmware provides these kind of details. I'm also in doubt if temperature can be read out, else you can just touch the router as an alternative. While you might feel the heat, it might not be damaging to the router yourself given the heat a processor can stand. I don't know about the components around it though. Have you checked for reviews on your router that are reporting similar experiences? –  Tom Wijsman Oct 7 '11 at 23:43
    
Most reviews seemed to be fine, according to Newegg when i bought it, thats how i made my choice. I might look it up more though. I think its really just meant to be any old router a family picks up –  Simon Sheehan Oct 7 '11 at 23:50
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try this take a big fan from a old desktop grab a power supply that fits the needs of the fan hook it all up the put the fan at the necessary holes of the router there u go prob salved that's how i did mine plus the router works so much better to.

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-1, the original question is about what would cause the router to become hot, not how to keep it cool. Could you revise your answer to better address the question? –  dav May 22 '13 at 13:41
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