Resurrecting the dead
A very well meaning friend (aka client) recently popped an innocuous question: The wireless router which had been working perfectly till last week; worked no more. Could I help?
Like all tech-support professional brethren of mine, a hundred things that could go wrong; and hundred & ten ways to fix the issues instantly popped to my mind. The only quick fix of recycling the power to the device had already been tried out autonomously by my client. Clients are getting quite tech savvy these days. All other solutions either required me to be on the phone for extended periods on a late Saturday evening or request the client to come over to my place with the device. I chose the later as the lesser of two evils.
My Client true to his professional form was at my doorstep on the dot while my Sunday arse was just trying to come to grips with the position of the sun in the sky.
The wireless router is question is a D-Link DI-524 (H/W Ver B4, F/W Ver 2.03, FCC-ID: KA2DI524G) Wireless-G Internet Router. At my client’s place, it is connected to a Huawei DSL Modem/Router. The DSL Modem is configured in bridge mode and its the D-Link that is configured in PPPoE mode to perform On-demand dialing and routing.
The second quick fix to fixing a router is simply to reset it. This I desisted from performing right away since I had configured the router with a host of settings and didn’t wanna re-do all the settings. So I attempted to diagnose the problem with the router.
Exactly as the client had described, it indeed turned out that while the status indicator lights on the front of the router were glowing normally (Power:ON, Status: ON, WLAN:ON); the router’s wireless was undetectable. No amount of ‘Refresh’ in Windows ‘View Wireless Networks’ helped.
I connected the laptop I was using to diagnose the issue; to the router using a Ethernet cable. Windows correctly determined that ‘Network cable connected’ but could not setup the Network since an IP via DHCP was not received in time. Multiple attempts to ‘Repair connection’ through a few power cycles on the router were in vain.
Next, I assigned a static IP of 192.168.0.11 to the Laptop’s Ethernet interface and attempted to ping the D-Link router at 192.168.0.1 (the D-Link router’s default IP). No dice. I added additional IPs (192.168.1.11 & 192.168.2.11) to the Interface and attempted to ping a range of IPs known to be used by various router manufacturers. Still no dice.
Next I attempted to apply the second known quick fix: Reset the router by pressing the ‘Reset’ button at the back of the router; adjacent to the power socket.
Very Important Note: For a wide range of routers, there are two types of reset that can be performed. 1) Factory Defaults Reset 2) Firmware Update Reset.
The Factory Defaults Reset simply returns the router to factory default configuration and allows reconfiguration of the router from a known point. To perform this reset, switch ON the router. Once the Router lights have stabilized, press the Reset button for a period of 10 seconds till the lights at front flash. Let go of the reset button. The router should reset and reboot itself.
The Firmware Update Reset wipes out the existing firmware on the router and prepares it to receive new firmware from the PC. This mode is generally used by the Router manufacturer and firmware update for this mode is rarely made available to the general public. To perform this reset, switch OFF the router. Press the reset button and power ON the router. Keep the reset button pressed through the power-up. Error lights on the router should indicate that the router is in abnormal mode.
Perform a firmware reset only if you know what you are doing. If you perform a firmware reset without the firmware updater software, your router is probably toast and you will have to return it for servicing.
In short, DO NOT press the reset button and power ON the router. This will perform a firmware reset.
Coming back to the topic, I attempted a simple Factory defaults reset and tried to access the router’s configuration page. No dice. Very evident since my Ethernet did not receive IP via DHCP. I tried the Factory Default reset a few more times; some of them to convince me, some to convince my client. No dice.
I explained to the client all that we would do in the normal course of action had been done to no avail. I explained to him that I would either have to perform a firmware reset or open the router up to check for broken stuff. With a tremulous voice, my good client reaffirmed his faith in my ability to fix his stuff and left for his home leaving the router with me. I guess, at this point he wrote off his router.
After a hectic day spent with guests, as I retired to my PC with my glass of Coke, I pulled out the router and performed a Firmware Reset on it. I regretted it almost immediately afterward.
Much to my chagrin, the router just turned over, rolled it’s eyes, stuck out it’s tongue and started playing dead.
The status-quo had not changed one bit and this irritated me further, prompting me to get another refill of Coca Cola.
Through my searches on Google, I eventually found a firmware update for the router and quite luckily, it was exactly what I needed. Godsend. You can download it from: http://tsd.dlink.com.tw/temp/download/2222/20060428_524_V204.zip
The downloaded file contained an EXE file and a BIN file. This was good news since this meant that I could probably fix the router from a Windows PC even if the router was basically unresponsive. This is very similar to performing BIOS updates for many motherboards and controller cards.
It looked like I was all set to repair the router, hence I double clicked on the EXE file to launch the update. The update program launched and immediately reported ‘No device found’. Harrumph
I remembered that during my attempts at accessing the router’s configuration page after a ‘Firmware update reset’, I was able to successfully ping the router, but after a power cycle I was not. This was achieved by:
- Perform a Firmware Reset of the router (keep the reset button pressed for 20 seconds while powering ON the router).
- The lights should blink and eventually settle to just the ‘Status’ LED blinking very rapidly.
- At this point if you ping the router (192.168.0.1), you will receive ping replies, but attempts to access the configuration page in a web browser will fail.
- Recycling power restores the router lights to normal mode but the router no longer responds to ping.
Taking this as a clue, I reset the router till Step 3 and launched the Update program again. It reported no device yet again. Of course it would. Since the router was actually not working and my network was set to receive an IP over DHCP, it could not join the 192.168.0.0 network.
I configured my laptop’s Ethernet connection to static IP (192.168.0.11) again. I confirmed that the Status Indicator Light was blinking rapidly and re-launched the update program.
Surprise! The update program correctly determined that I had a ‘Crashed’ router and offered to update the firmware. Less than a minute later, it reported success. The router restarted itself and came back to life.
I was able to ping to my hearts content, reconfigure my Network card to receive IP via DHCP (which it did) and access the Router’s homepage to configure it.
While the router’s basic settings; most importantly Protected Wireless settings have been reconfigured, the actual login/password details required for using the BSNL DSL service are not known to me and my client must enter them on his own. This may lead me write yet another article.