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bugmenot2
Apprentice

Firmware update breaks Nighthawk R7000; fixed, but 15+ year customer of Netgear switching to TP-Link

I'm switching router brands to TP-Link (will be using TP-Link Archer AX50).  I've used Netgear products for over 15 years, but this latest firmware update experience was the last straw. 

 

Summary:

  • Was running firmware V1.0.9.88_10.2.88; checked for software update via router itself using router login on local intranet, and it said none was available. I wanted to double-check on website as it had been a while since the router was updated.
  • Checked in downloads section for Netgear Nighthawk and discovered that firmware version 1.0.11.110 had been available since 9/30/20 (it's now 12/26/20).  Why hadn't the router administration control panel informed me a new router firmware was available?  I read the release notes and saw security updates were included.  This meant I had been using an older (vulnerable) version of firmware on my router for nearly 3 months.  Strike 1!
  • I manually downloaded the firmware and updated the router.  Rebooted the router and checked the firmware version in the router admin control panel; confirmed it had updated to V1.0.11.110_10.2.100.  While I was in the UI I thought I would try to turn on QoS to see if this could improve streaming performance, as I had always wanted to try it.
  • Everything seemed fine at first, but then I noticed when watching Plex on my TV that video was buffering/stopping.  This seemed to indicate a network issue. Ran a speed test and discovered my internet speed on wifi had decreased from ~130 Mbps to 20 Mbps!  What?! Enabling QoS seemed to break streaming! Strike 2!
  • Disabled QoS but saw speed issue not resolved. After checking all networking components and searching the Netgear forums, discovered others had experienced issues w/QoS and that once enabled, it seemed it could not be disabled. The only recourse was to reset the router and reconfigure from SCRATCH. I couldn't restore from a backup as those are apparently firmware-specific, and since I had also updated firmware I didn't have a backup from the firmware update. Also saw others had experienced issues after firmware updates and had to also reset router/reconfig from SCRATCH. Strike 3!
  • I had never had this issue after a firmware upgrade, but looks like enabling QoS broke my router. Spent 3 hours on Christmas morning resetting router and reconfiguring it painstakingly from scratch, making sure QoS is NOT enabled. Ran another speed test and wireless performance is back to the usual speed (130 Mbps).

     

     

I understand routers are complex pieces of equipment & bugs can exist, but based on what I read in the forums, this QoS bug has existed for YEARS and is still not fixed. To be specific, the bug is this:  After enabling QoS it can't be disabled; only way to roll back the change is to reset router/reconfig, or maybe restoring from a backup would work?  I couldn't test that as I stupidly failed to take a router backup after updating the firmware and enabling QoS.  I thought if QoS didn't work, I could just disable it in the router admin control panel.  Nope!  NETGEAR, FIX THIS BUG!  PLEASE!

 

I have enjoyed using the Nighthawk for many years.  I have owned the R7000 so long, that I don't remember when I bought it!  Maybe 2014?  It's been a great router for many years, but this most recent experience was the deal breaker for me.  I really don't appreciate how Netgear's support policy is so short as well; only 90 days?  And then only a 1-year warranty?  Looks like I was just lucky I didn't encounter an issue before now.

 

I did some research and Wirecutter says the best router for most people in 2020 (you could Google for their review) is the TP-Link Archer AX50.  TP-Link offers 2 years of product support and unlimited 24x7 tech support!  Much better than 90 days of tech support and 1 year of warranty.  I don't intend for this to be a commercial for TP-Link, but it sounds good so I wanted to share this experience with others, in case I am able to help someone else avoid 3 hours of wasted time on a Christmas morning.

 

I am sad to leave the Netgear community, especially since I am from the San Francisco Bay Area and Netgear is a local company (based in San Jose, California).  But this latest experience was just too much.  Farewell, Netgear.  I hope this post helps you and serves as a warning to other Netgear customers.  I hope Netgear allows this post to appear and doesn't try to censor bad feedback on their products.  But, even if they do, I feel better for having documented my experience. Thank you and happy 2021!

 

Message 1 of 8

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bugmenot2
Apprentice

Re: Firmware update breaks Nighthawk R7000; fixed, but 15+ year customer of Netgear switching to TP-

By the way, another discovery today:  I had been having difficulty getting Plex to work properly on my Smart TV via both Wi-Fi and while plugged into a a Wi-Fi extender via ethernet cable.  Symptom:  On Smart TV, Plex would take about 35 seconds to start streaming (then it would work fine).  So rewind/fast forward would be reasonably fast, about 2-3 seconds for each operation.  But beginning the stream was taking forever.  During this period, for an unknown reason, my Xbox One's Plex app worked great, also connected via ethernet cable to the Wi-Fi extender which is connected to my Netgear Nighthawk R7000's wifi network.  It would start playing a stream in under 5 seconds and rewind/ff within 1-2 seconds.  A much better level of performance.

 

I thought if there were an issue with the router or the Wi-Fi extender, that it would equally impact the Plex app on the Smart TV and Xbox One.  However, this issue was only impacting the Smart TV, whether it was connected directly to the WiFi network or via ethernet connection to the WiFi extender.  Additionally, the Smart TV could play Amazon Prime, YouTube and Netflix media without any issue whatsoever; this was only affecting Plex playback.  Another weird part of the puzzle.

 

Lo and behold, after resetting the Nighthawk and reconfiguring my WiFi/router settings manually, I discovered earlier today to my delight that now Plex works very well not only on the Xbox One, but also my Smart TV as well!  So this was another very welcome development.   I feel much better about using the Plex app on the Smart TV, as it is a more energy-efficient way to stream, instead of having both the Smart TV and my Xbox One powered on to stream media.  It is also a lot quicker to start watching content; I don't have to turn on the TV, switch inputs to the Xbox One, turn on the Xbox One and sign in then start the Plex app.  I just turn on the Smart TV, select the Plex app and can start streaming.

 

I didn't try resetting the router before, as it didn't seem to be the cause.  Even though it took about 3 hours to do (and I only had to do this as I had a Zoom meeting for Christmas with family in another state, so it was critically important for my WiFi to be working), I am glad I invested the time as now Plex works well on the Smart TV, and that mystery is finally solved. 

 

Had I not gone through this exercise and just used the TP-Link with Plex on the Smart TV, I would have had no idea why this never worked on the Netgear router.  But now I know, and that gives me some additional closure - hah!  Smiley Happy

 

 

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Message 4 of 8

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plemans
Guru

Re: Firmware update breaks Nighthawk R7000; fixed, but 15+ year customer of Netgear switching to TP-

I wish you good luck with tp-link.

I've had 3 of their products and only 1 of them ever got updates since release. And I wasn't buying lower class products. 2 were flagship routers/mesh and was was a flagship extender. 

They all worked well but not much for updates for security 

CM2000-> RAX200-> GS716v2-> EX8000
Message 2 of 8
bugmenot2
Apprentice

Re: Firmware update breaks Nighthawk R7000; fixed, but 15+ year customer of Netgear switching to TP-

Thanks!  I'm hoping it works well.  I am optimistic. 


Regarding firmware updates:  The router I will be using (TP-Link Archer AX50) has already released 3 firmware updates this year.  So maybe they will be supporting this router well with updates?  If not, then in a few years I will be back on the hunt again!

 

Link to their firmwares -

https://www.tp-link.com/us/support/download/archer-ax50/#Firmware

 

 

Message 3 of 8
bugmenot2
Apprentice

Re: Firmware update breaks Nighthawk R7000; fixed, but 15+ year customer of Netgear switching to TP-

By the way, another discovery today:  I had been having difficulty getting Plex to work properly on my Smart TV via both Wi-Fi and while plugged into a a Wi-Fi extender via ethernet cable.  Symptom:  On Smart TV, Plex would take about 35 seconds to start streaming (then it would work fine).  So rewind/fast forward would be reasonably fast, about 2-3 seconds for each operation.  But beginning the stream was taking forever.  During this period, for an unknown reason, my Xbox One's Plex app worked great, also connected via ethernet cable to the Wi-Fi extender which is connected to my Netgear Nighthawk R7000's wifi network.  It would start playing a stream in under 5 seconds and rewind/ff within 1-2 seconds.  A much better level of performance.

 

I thought if there were an issue with the router or the Wi-Fi extender, that it would equally impact the Plex app on the Smart TV and Xbox One.  However, this issue was only impacting the Smart TV, whether it was connected directly to the WiFi network or via ethernet connection to the WiFi extender.  Additionally, the Smart TV could play Amazon Prime, YouTube and Netflix media without any issue whatsoever; this was only affecting Plex playback.  Another weird part of the puzzle.

 

Lo and behold, after resetting the Nighthawk and reconfiguring my WiFi/router settings manually, I discovered earlier today to my delight that now Plex works very well not only on the Xbox One, but also my Smart TV as well!  So this was another very welcome development.   I feel much better about using the Plex app on the Smart TV, as it is a more energy-efficient way to stream, instead of having both the Smart TV and my Xbox One powered on to stream media.  It is also a lot quicker to start watching content; I don't have to turn on the TV, switch inputs to the Xbox One, turn on the Xbox One and sign in then start the Plex app.  I just turn on the Smart TV, select the Plex app and can start streaming.

 

I didn't try resetting the router before, as it didn't seem to be the cause.  Even though it took about 3 hours to do (and I only had to do this as I had a Zoom meeting for Christmas with family in another state, so it was critically important for my WiFi to be working), I am glad I invested the time as now Plex works well on the Smart TV, and that mystery is finally solved. 

 

Had I not gone through this exercise and just used the TP-Link with Plex on the Smart TV, I would have had no idea why this never worked on the Netgear router.  But now I know, and that gives me some additional closure - hah!  Smiley Happy

 

 

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Message 4 of 8
rlevyendo
Aspirant

Re: Firmware update breaks Nighthawk R7000; fixed, but 15+ year customer of Netgear switching to TP-

I nearly had the same experience. I obviously will not go ahead and pursue an update. I wonder if I might bother you with something else. I have had 2 lines or user names. What is the advantage of Network Connect, if any? I enabled it and it joined them into one user name and I don't know whether I should leave it that way or try to return to separate listings.

Thanks,

rlevyendo@gmail.com

Message 5 of 8
bugmenot2
Apprentice

Re: Firmware update breaks Nighthawk R7000; fixed, but 15+ year customer of Netgear switching to TP-

Sorry, not familiar with Network Connect; are you referring to Smart Connect?  This article explains it:  https://kb.netgear.com/25346/What-is-Smart-Connect-and-how-do-I-enable-or-disable-it-on-my-Nighthawk...

 

I have never used it myself.  I always keep my wifi network names separate for 2.4ghz and 5ghz.  That way I can control which devices connect to which networks.  I think smart connect may only be useful if you have tri-band links on the router, like two 5ghz bands and 1 2.4ghz band.  But in my case it hasn't been needed.  Basically, if you are seeing performance issues with smart connect, try turning it off and just manually connecting devices to the wifi network (2.4 or 5ghz) you want them to use.

 

Message 6 of 8
bugmenot2
Apprentice

Re: Firmware update breaks Nighthawk R7000; fixed, but 15+ year customer of Netgear switching to TP-

FYI, received the TP-Link Archer AX50 today and set it up.  Any time you use a new piece of equipment it can have issues at first!  In this case I followed the directions and the router wouldn't connect to the internet.  After rebooting the router again, it finally connected to the internet.

 

Quick start guide said to do this:  Turn off modem & plug WAN cable from cable modem into router WAN port; turn on cable modem; turn on router; configure router, and voila, all should be working!  But it wasn't for me.  At this point I rebooted the router and then it was able to connect to the internet/get IP assigned from my cable company.  Now it is all set up, applied router firmware upgrades and it is working about as well as the Netgear was.

 

Before disconnecting the Nighthawk this morning I ran some speed tests through various parts of the house and logged the results.  Now to be clear the network clients I have in the house are running Wifi 5 (802.11ac), so I'm not using any Wifi 6 (802.11ax) clients yet.  Laptop, iPhone, etc. all use Wifi5.  So I'm just comparing the Wifi 5 performance of the Nighthawk and Archer at this point.

 

Anyway after hooking up the Archer AX50 I ran the same speed tests.  The Nighthawk is a bit *faster* in some areas of the house than the Archer (specifically downstairs).  This tells me the Netgear Nighthawk really is a speed demon!!!  It already uses beamforming (just like the Archer does), so this helps explain why it performs so well.  While using the laptop it seems a little faster, but not by much.  It's very close to the Nighthawk.  Part of this may be "perception bias"; I think it's going to be faster, because I hooked up a new router, so it seems faster.  It's amazing that the TP-Link isn't blowing the Nighthawk away, considering the Archer is brand new and the Nighthawk is several years old.

 

Even though the Nighthawk is probably 5+ years old (I cannot remember when I bought it...), it is better in some areas of the house (further away from the router, like downstairs) than the Archer is.  But the Archer's user interface is a little nicer to use, and it is faster.  Example - when you make some settings in the Nighthawk UI it can take 20-30 seconds for the change to commit. On the Archer, every change is very fast, maybe 1-3 seconds to apply.  The only thing that takes a while is rebooting the router, same as the Nighthawk - takes about 2 minutes.  But since you hardly go into the UI to change anything after setting it up, this probably isn't a big deal.

 

So the Nighthawk is so old that it is out of warranty and I will hold onto it.  I may repurpose it as another access point or bridge down the road.  It's been a great router and I really have enjoyed it over the years.  Sorry that the firmware update was such a terrible experience, but I don't regret having the Nighthawk.  It has served our family well.  And if the TP-Link breaks/fails, I will have the Nighthawk available as a standby just in case!  And now I am ready for Wifi 6 / 802.11AX devices, so when I add those clients to my network, the router will be able to provide the increased speed benefits.  Have a good one & happy new year!!!

 

 

Message 7 of 8
rlevyendo
Aspirant

Re: Firmware update breaks Nighthawk R7000; fixed, but 15+ year customer of Netgear switching to TP-

Thanks, you hit the nail on the head and answered all of my questions. It doesn't alter the fact that Netgear's business model sucks and that when and if my present router goes out, I will switch to TP or another company that backs up its product with a better service ethic.

Message 8 of 8
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