DD-WRT is a Linux based alternative OpenSource firmware that works with most WLAN routers. Once equipped, it provides entry-level routers with a level of control normally only found in models that cost $600 or more: everything from broadcasting a stronger signal to remotely accessing your home computers. Here’s how it works.
We originally shared this hack way back in 2012. In that time, the firmware has been regularly adding support for new router models, so we figured it was worth re-sharing. (The most recent addition – the Linksys WRT3200ACM – was released less than a month ago.)
In short, DD-WRT embeds Linux in your router and is geared towards providing you with a level of control you’d expect from a professional-grade router. There are a number of reasons you might want to do this, ranging from boosting a poor Wi-Fi signal to having a greater level of control over your network setup. (This includes prioritising your bandwidth for specific apps or programs.) Best of all, the setup is easy and completely free.
To supercharge your router, all you need is a supported router (click here to see if your model is supported) and the DD-WRT firmware. If your router is supported, you should see a list of download links. Simply choose the latest stable build relating to your gear and follow the prompts.
Here’s a quick explainer on the installation process:
Installing DD-WRT varies depending on your router, but the general instructions tend to stay the same. Here’s how it usually works:
- Log into your router’s admin page. This page lives at varying locations, but it will either resemble 192.168.x.x or 10.0.x.x.
For example, most Linksys routers host their admin pages at http://192.168.1.1. Consult your router’s manual for its admin address if you don’t know it.
- Go to the Admin(istration) section and choose Firmware Upgrade.
- Choose “Select File” and find your DD-WRT firmware.
- Upload it and wait for your router to update. Do not unplug or do anything to the router until it finishes updating.
Again, these instructions will differ depending on the router you choose. DD-WRT will include specific instructions for your router if you need to do anything special, so make sure you read them.
With DD-WRT successfully installed, reconnect to your network over ethernet or Wi-Fi (with a new network SSID of dd-wrt) and visit your admin page. In most cases, it will still live at the same address as its predecessor.
For example, if you went to http://192.168.1.1 to upload the DD-WRT firmware, go there again. DD-WRT may request a username and password, which by default is root/admin (you should change this if that is the case). Newer versions will ask you to choose your own. After logging in, you’ll see the DD-WRT admin page. Now you’re ready to get started!
You may need to allow half an hour or more for the DD-WRT firmware to install and configure, so be patient.
Once DD-WRT is up and running you should be able to boost your wireless signal, use QoS to prevent bandwidth hogging, set up port forwarding to access your computers and take control of which programs get your precious bandwidth, to name just a few benefits. You can read a more in-depth guide on DD-WRT hacks here.
Lifehacker’s Classic Hacks is a regular segment where we dig up the most popular, useful and offbeat advice from our archives and update it for your modern lifestyle.