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New Network Router!

I’ve been running TomatoUSB on my router (an Asus RT86) for years, but I’ve been noticing some flakiness lately, primarily in network devices just acting oddly on connection, poor connection throughput for a few specific devices, and a few other oddities.

It just so happened that a few of the devices that were struggling were, like, the ones I work on every day, so that was turning out to be a big deal. (Spoiler: it wasn’t the router. I’ll get to what the problem was in the next five paragraphs, I promise.) The router I was using had been holding its configuration quite successfully for a long time, and I’m oddly grateful for a piece of plastic and metal for that, but my thought was that it was time to move on.

After consulting with a few co-workers who were a bit more modern than I, I ended up going with an Eero 6 system, a dual-band mesh system. (They have tri-band, which is supposed to be awesome, but that’s way too rich for me… I thought I’d try dual-band and see how it went, and move up if I had no other choice.)

So far, it’s been great. I had a support problem when I first started it up; coverage was great, and it’s fast as all get out. My problem was that some of my devices were struggling with DHCP – which might have been the problem with my Asus router, actually – and were allocating addresses like mad. (They were failing the very last step of DHCP, and I don’t know why, as I have no custom networking devices on my network.)

But here’s the thing… I called Eero to try to work out the problem, and they spent an hour and a half on the phone, checking everything out with me, and not only working out what the exact problem was (the DHCP handshake error) but actually set up the network so that my devices no longer had the issue.

We reconfigured the network physically a few times (remember, I’m both wireless and wired, depending on the exact machine), and we actually isolated the problem to a specific switch I had installed recently, a Linksys 8-port that was somehow messing up DHCP. Take the switch off of the network? Everything clears up.

So was the switch (to Eero, not the Linksys) worth it? Heck, yes. For one thing, my bandwidth over the whole house has gone way up; I can finally stream TV over the network, which is likely to be a death knell for satellite in my home. (The real question is: which service? I’m not going to all of them.) For another, the support level was incredible.

When I say they spent time with me working out the problem, I’m probably underselling them. We literally walked through the entire physical network configuration (comprised of the modem, mesh router, and three switches, and a dozen endpoints) multiple times until we isolated the faulty router. We’d actually gotten it working before we isolated the router but they suggested – note, they suggested – keeping after the problem until we did a complete triage and repair.

So now I have a network that performs much better, at a price point close to what I spent on my old and faithful, yet underperforming, router; I not only have much better coverage over the house (thanks to the mesh configuration) but far, far better bandwidth, and the support is about as good as I could possibly have imagined.

The Eero is a little weird, sure; I’m used to having control over my router, and the Eero mesh tends to expose things to you that you need to control but not everything you might want to control. That’s probably a good thing, really; it is easy for people not used to networking to set things up incorrectly, and the Eero actually works out what will work best based on analyzing actual conditions.

But it gives you the things you need most: not only bandwidth and coverage, but IPv6, security, support, guest network provision (if you want it), along with other features.

Big thumbs up for Eero. Excellent product.

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