Everything You Need to Know About DD-WRT (in 2021)

Wireless routers have become almost indispensable in recent times. They come with specific firmware. A router’s firmware is the set of commands that regulate how it functions. Hence, the router’s capabilities and performance are directly tied to its firmware and could either improve or reduce its capabilities, regardless of the inbuilt abilities. 

Furthermore, the firmware could affect how secure the router is. Sometimes, when routers malfunction, you could be tempted to replace them with a newer version. However, this might not solve the problem. Replacing the firmware could work the best.

DD-WRT firmware is one of the best in the industry. This review looks at the DD-WRT firmware and informs you of all that you need to know.

What is DD-WRT?

DD-WRT is a router firmware made by a company in Germany. DD ostensibly stands for Dresden, the German city where the company has its headquarters. WRT stands for wireless router. 

DD-WRT is compatible with a lot of router brands. It is designed to improve the capabilities of the routers it gets installed in. It could even unlock new abilities, such as improving the router’s speed. 

As mentioned earlier, some routers malfunction periodically. Instead of changing them entirely, you could install new firmware, such as DD-WRT. This process of installing a new firmware to an existing router is called flashing. Flashing is like jailbreaking your router; the only difference is that it is legal. Flashing takes just about 10 minutes to complete. However, it requires some technical know-how to execute. If done improperly, the router could brick, essentially damaging the router.

Pros of the DD-WRT Firmware

There are several excellent reasons why you should install the DD-WRT firmware on your router. Here are a few of them:

Firewall

The firmware comes with a robust firewall strong enough to prevent snoops and hackers. In addition, you can even customize the firewall to beef up the protection.

Better Performance

DD-WRT provides a better quality of service than the average. The quality of service takes into consideration such factors as allowed bandwidth, technical errors, and lags. Quality of service comes into play in activities such as online streaming and gaming. Users who engage in these activities attempt to improve their quality of service by configuring their devices. This is where the DD-WRT comes in. DD-WRT enhances the quality of service by giving you greater control over the router.

Supports VPN Use

DD-WRT firmware supports VPNs. This is important because a lot of router firmware is not compatible with VPNs. Considering how important a VPN can be for your security, you should be looking to install it on your router. However, for that to happen, the router’s firmware has to be VPN-compatible. Thankfully, the DD-WRT firmware is.

Ability to Take on New Features

It is possible to extend the functions of the DD-WRT firmware. This isn’t a feature you find on many router firmware. Here are some of the advanced features you can get on DD-WRT:

DNS Caching

A cache is software (or hardware) that stores information for easy future retrieval. DNS (Domain Name System) is a system that translates domain names into machine-readable IP addresses. DNS caching refers to the storage of the IP addresses you visit. DD-WRT can perform DNS caching. This makes it easy for your device to remember and access visited websites.

Adblocking

You will have a less-than-ideal experience if ads pop up every other minute while you access certain sites. DD-WRT can be configured to act as an adblocker.

Range Extension

A range extender is a device that repeats the signal from a router. This essentially “extends” the range of the WiFi, reaching places that typically are blocked off from internet connection. With DD-WRT, you will not need a range extender for your WiFi. This is because the signal from the DD-WRT router is usually strong and able to reach farther devices than you’d normally find.

DD-WRT Risks To Consider

Here are some of the risks with DD-WRT:

Compatibility

DD-WRT has a high compatibility threshold. Therefore, a lot of routers are compatible with the firmware. However, others aren’t. Consequently, you need to confirm that your router is compatible before downloading and installing the DD-WRT firmware.

Bricking Your Router

Before attempting to reconfigure your router with the DD-WRT firmware, you should be sure you know what you are doing. You could end up damaging your router without proper guidance. We have a tutorial below on how to install the DD-WRT firmware successfully. If you find anything confusing, then you may want to consult an expert. 

Warranty Voiding

Tampering with your router’s firmware could void your warranty. Hence, if you really need to keep your warranty, then it won’t be a great idea to install custom firmware like DD-WRT.

Steps To Set Up a DD-WRT Router

The setup process for the DD-WRT firmware will vary from one router to the other. However, here are a few general steps you could follow:

Confirm that your router is compatible with the DD-WRT firmware. You can do this by running a check on the DD-WRT website. There are set up instructions for the different routers there too.

  • Download the DD-WRT firmware for your device. 
  • Get an Ethernet cable and connect your computer to the router with it. 
  • Clear your router’s memory. 
  • Reset the DD-WRT firmware to the restoration mode. 
  • Flash your firmware.
  • Restart the router.
  • Now log into your router and finish the setup process for the firmware. 

Should You Use a VPN for a DD-WRT Router?

Yes. A VPN (short for Virtual Private Network) is software designed to improve your online security. It encrypts your online traffic. This prevents third parties from accessing your network. This includes your Internet Service Provider (ISP), the government, or even hackers. With a VPN protecting your device, third parties will not see the websites you visit and what you download. Furthermore, a VPN changes your IP address. This way, you can access content restricted to your location. 

Installing a VPN on your DD-WRT router has several benefits. The most important one is that it spreads the VPN protection to all the devices connected to the router. VPN providers typically have a limit on the number of devices that can connect to an account. However, with a VPN installed on your DD-WRT router, there is no limit to the number of devices that can enjoy the VPN protection.

Furthermore, installing a VPN on a DD-WRT router is an excellent way to cover devices that traditionally do not enjoy VPN protection. For example, devices like smart TVs and gaming apps like the PS4 do not have native VPN apps that protect them. Thus, there’s no way to get them under a VPN without a router. 

How To Set Up a VPN on a DD-WRT Router

The easiest way to set up a VPN on a DD-WRT router is to buy one that has a VPN setup preinstalled. In this case, you will just need to plug the router in for it to start working. However, if what you have is a DD-WRT router without a VPN installed, then you will need to manually configure it. The process can be a little complicated. Here are the steps:

  • Choose a great VPN service.
  • Sign into your account either on the VPN app or on the browser version.
  • Choose a manual configuration through OpenVPN.
  • Select your preferred server.
  • Download the file for the server you chose.
  • Double check that you are connected through DD-WRT. You can confirm this on your router’s administrative settings.
  • Enable the OpenVPN client.
  • Enter the programming data from the file you downloaded earlier.
  • Sign into your VPN account through the DD-WRT settings.
  • Save your settings and apply the new settings now available.
  • Confirm that you are now connected to the VPN service. You can check if your IP address has changed by using an IP address checker.

Conclusion

DD-WRT is a firmware for wireless routers that is compatible with many routers. It helps users unlock many features unavailable on a traditional router. This review tells you all you need to know about the firmware.