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I believe that my router's firmware is causing me to get much lower Internet speeds than I should be getting. This is true for general browsing, downloading large files and uploading files. Would installing DD-WRT help me see faster overall Internet speeds?

Diagnosis:

  • I know the speed is there, because I'm paying for a high-speed cable Internet connection.
  • To confirm that I'm getting what I'm paying for, I temporarily removed the router from the picture by plugging a computer directly into the modem with an ethernet cable; I immediately saw a significant and sustained jump in speed.
  • The router hardware itself is capable of handling high speeds. I do get good speeds occasionally, mostly right after rebooting, but they never last for more than a few minutes.

Unless I'm forgetting a link in the chain, firmware is the only thing left that could be causing my problem. This is also the conclusion that my earlier questions (one, two) ended up with. Specifically, I think I'm looking at buggy/inefficient code and/or memory leaks, which DD-WRT might not have.

Most of what I've read indicates that the point of DD-WRT is adding features that out-of-the-box firmware doesn't support (and that I don't need), not improving speed. On the other hand, it seems like every web page and forum post I see about DD-WRT has a slightly different opinion of what it does and how well it does it.

I'm asking about only DD-WRT and not Tomato because Tomato doesn't support my router, a Cisco/Linksys WRT160N v3.

EDIT :
I am using the latest manufacturer firmware. I also noticed something interesting after I posted this question: although I get great speed when I plug into the modem with an ethernet cable, I don't get improved speed when I plug into the router with an ethernet cable. Could that indicate that a firmware change won't help?

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Its either that or your router is bad. Do you have access to another router? If not, flashing the router with dd-wrt wouldn't hurt anything. –  jmreicha Oct 10 '11 at 19:00
    
It might hurt; I could always brick the router during the flashing. I don't have another one around. –  Pops Oct 10 '11 at 19:03
    
Unless maybe the router got some weird setting saved on it? Have you tried resetting to defaults? It is actually somewhat difficult to brick your router with dd-wrt. –  jmreicha Oct 10 '11 at 19:11
    
Not recently, but I don't recall it making a difference the last time I did. –  Pops Oct 10 '11 at 19:13
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

As long as your router is on the compatible devices list, it certainly won't make anything worse.

That being said, even if a device does report compatibility, I have noticed on a few routers that they suffer from random wireless issues (mainly dropouts on buffalo devices).

Based on the steps you have already tried, I would first check if there are any manufactured released firmwares. If there are, try that first. If not, go for DD-WRT.

I don't think anyone can tell you for certain if the issue is a bad driver/firmware or a faulty unit as I have seen these symptoms for both and it is impossible to distinguish.

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I got dd-wrt installed, and I am seeing improved speeds. I don't have exact numbers; I don't know how to run a formal benchmark, and I wouldn't have anything to compare the results to if I did because I don't have good pre-upgrade data. I can say that two computers on my network can now stream videos simultaneously, whereas before, attempts to start a second stream would freeze up the first one.

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