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The most common problem of ADSL connections, especially on long lines, is a low SNR margin value. The SNR margin (or Noise margin) is the relative strength of the DSL Signal to Noise ratio.

In case that you have upgraded your ADSL connection to a higher bandwidth (for example from 2 Mbps to 8 Mbps), you might be experiencing frequent line drops (disconnects). Especially during the night-hours there is a higher probability of having a lower SNR margin.

Depending on your ADSL router’s brand/model, you might be able to tweak the advanced connection settings.

Here I am going to describe how this can be achieved on a Netgear DG834PN router.  It could be working with similar Netgear models (Google is your friend!).

Please make sure that you follow the instructions carefully, and only change the settings that suit you.

The first step is to enable telnet connections to the router. Thus, start up your browser and paste the following URL:

http://192.168.0.1/setup.cgi?todo=debug

The IP address should match your router’s address, so please change it accordingly.
The web interface is going to ask you for the administrator username/password.
Upon entering the correct details, you will see the message “Debug Enable!”.

Now that the telnet option is enabled, you need to connect to the router.
For example on a Windows command prompt just type “telnet 192.168.0.1”. On Mac/Linux just use the Terminal.

If the telnet connection is successfully established, type the following command to increase your SNR margin:

adslctl configure –snr 150

The 150 value is the percentage of the original SNR value.
For example if your original SNR value was 6 dB, than the 150 percentage would mean that you prefer an SNR value of 9 dB.

Increasing your SNR value, is decreasing your connection’s download bandwidth as well. However it’s better to have a lower bandwidth, than having a connection which constantly drops.

If you would like to restore the setting, than simply type:

adslctl configure –snr 100

… or just reboot your router. It has to be mentioned that the debug options are vanished after a router restart.

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Last year the WEP protocol has been proved to be a totally insecure method for protecting a Wi-Fi network. As a result everyone was encouraged to switch to the WPA protocol.

A few days ago, a researcher announced that he found a way to crack the WPA protection in under 15 minutes!

Here is what you should do to keep your Wi-Fi network safe at the moment:

Log into your router settings page, and select the WPA2 protocol instead of WPA or WEP.

If you cannot find the WPA2 as a standard choice, you might need to update your router’s firmware.

On my Netgear router it looks like that:

netgear_wi-fi_settings
Use a random password, something that it would be hard to be cracked via a dictionary attack. In general the longer a password is, the more difficult it is to be cracked.

Depending on your Operating System, you may or may not be required to configure the Wi-Fi settings manually. What you should be looking for is again the WPA2 protocol, combined with the AES encryption.

You shouldn’t choose the TKIP encryption as the WPA/TKIP combination was the one which has been cracked.

Here is a quick guide for Windows XP:

If you are on Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (SP3), then WPA2 support is provided.
However Windows XP Server Pack 2 (SP2) users should install an update to enable WPA2 support.

Once ready, double-click on the Wi-Fi connection icon, and then click on “Properties” button:

windows_xp_wi-fi_1

Go to the Wireless Networks tab, select your network and click on “Properties” button:

windows_xp_wi-fi_2

Select as Network Authentication the “WPA2-PSK” option, and as Data Encryption the “AES” option.

windows_xp_wi-fi_3

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Today I have installed my new Netgear router, and to be more specific it is the DG834PN model from the Wireless Rangemax series.
It is a great product, with excellent Wi-Fi support, a comprehensive settings menu and a cool design.

However I had the following annoying problem.
I didn’t complete the setup wizard, I went on and set all settings manually, even before the ADSL connection has been activated.
Thus, when the ADSL became alive, I got normally connected to the Internet.
And at that time I have been locked out of the router’s admin/settings home page.
Whenever I was typing http://192.168.0.1/ on the browser (Firefox 2.0 or IE7), the page was redirecting to http://www.routerlogin.com which is a domain owned by Netgear.

The solution that was suggested by the Netgear’s support page, was to reset the router to the factory settings.

Anyway I didn’t do that, because I would lose my settings, and the problem could be repeated as well.

So how did i fix the problem?
I opened the XP hosts file, and did a manual insert there.

The hosts file is located at: C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc
The entry was: 192.168.0.1 http://www.routerlogin.net

You might need to flush your DNS records at this point, or simply restart your computer.

And then use the following URL to access the admin page:
http://www.routerlogin.net/setup.cgi?next_file=start.htm

All done!

Edit (01/05/07):
Here is another solution to the problem, which is a fairly straight-forward way to disable the annoying wizard.
Type in your browser:
http://www.routerlogin.com/CA_HiddenPage.htm
Select: Disable Configuration Assistant, and click on Apply.
You can re-enable it by navigating to http://192.168.0.1/CA_HiddenPage.htm (where 192.168.0.1 is your router’s IP address)

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