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VPN Firewall/Router (2)
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Netgear FVS336G

We got FiOS a bit back. This is a pretty high bandwidth service, and the expected throughput would not be seen if I stuck with the FVS318 router I was using, so I had to look around again. I looked at a D-Link router and I think a Zyxtel. Both allowed much higher WAN speeds. However, the then new FVS336G from Netgear took my fancy. It has two WAN ports that can be used such that if one fails you can switch over to the other. Having lost ports on the old FVS318, this struck me as a good idea. So I ordered up one of the first off the production line.

The FVS336G is slightly larger than the FVS318, but is still not that much larger than a book. It has 2 WAN ports (for up to 60Mbs transfer), and 4 switched 10/100/1000 LAN ports. The router has it's power transformer in the case, so there is no external transformer brick.

Setup is much like that on the FVS318. The lead-in page allows setting of the WAN details, and you might want to go to the LAN page to set up the internal address range. This router allows various new features, such as emailing logs and time server.

It took only a short time to get all the settings in and get the router up and running. Doing an Internet speed check on the Verizon supplied router, and then the FVS336G, showed the Netgear router was giving me about 1mb/s more throughput than the Verizon router. This is a handy increase in speed, and is quite noticable when bringing up some web pages.

One thing you will notice with these faster services is that often the webservers that you are hitting are bandwidth limited. It's a sanity check on the providers end, but sort of makes all the performance this router and FiOS service provides, irrelevant!

Updates

The Netgear support site already lists serveral updates to the router software. It's always a good idea to check the site and get the latest. Just be aware that changing from version 2 to version 3 firmware requires a complete reset of the box, as is detailed below. This reset will erase all your config, so make sure you have it jotted down and ready to re-insert when the router comes back up.

Resetting

Resetting this box is dead easy, all you have to remember is - Be Patient! To reset use a straightened paperclip pushed into the hole marked "Factory Defaults", make sure the test LED really is on solidly. The LED will come on seemingly solidly after starting, but keep the button in the hole pressed for quite a few more seconds. The LED blinks off, then stays off for about 10 or 15 seconds, before blinking rapidly and finally glowing solidly. If you don't get this activity you have not reset the router. After you reset in this manner you are completely back to factory defaults, or whatever level code you have upgraded to.

Reliability

I got the router because of the dual WAN ports, but unfortunately these have not been the issue that has sidelined the router. It seems that the device has developed a loose connection or dry solder joint in some part of the power circuitry. Gently drumming my fingers on the top of the box has it going on and off. Here at the Mansion, the building is timber so walking around causes vibrations, these cause the loose connection to act up and the router will come and go as it pleases. There is a 3 year warranty on the PSU, so I am going to try and get a replacement. Fingers crossed.

Summary

Overall I have liked the Netgear FVS336G experience. It's a fast router, that provides VPN and various other features at a fraction of the price of other routers. The only fly in the ointment may be the build quality. We will see.


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