Hubs, switches, routers, wireless adapters and even NAS devices . . . I’ve used a wide range of Netgear products over the years. The Netgear brand has traditionally been reliable, offering products for which I’ve trusted and have been comfortable using at home, in the office and when making product recommendations to others.
Unfortunately, over the past several years, I’ve noticed a growing trend when it comes to the quality of their firmware, more specifically, a lack thereof. Netgear firmware for routers often have bugs resulting in various issues post-firmware upgrade. I’ve written several posts about firmware issues affecting the Netgear R7000 AC1900 Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi router (see RELATED POSTS below). Netgear released buggy firmware which resulted in network connectivity issues, sporadic and spotty wireless connections, dropped connections, spontaneous router reboots and so forth. After several months with no sign of a permanent fix from Netgear and given this router was deployed in an office environment, the only solution was to replace the router.
After reviewing alternative router options (including routers from other brands), the Netgear R7000 AC1900 Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi router was replaced with the Netgear AX6000-Nighthawk AX8 8-Stream Wi-Fi 6 router in hopes that a new router with a different version of Netgear’s router firmware would function properly. During the implementation, the factory installed firmware was upgraded to the latest version available at the time, version 18.104.22.168. While this firmware version was “stable” when compared to the recent firmware releases for the R7000, it was not bug-free.
For instance, on the router’s Statistics page, the statistics for the WAN connection resets every 24 hours instead of accumulating stats until the router is rebooted. Since the Internet connection has a static IP assigned, the reset was not due to DHCP lease time. I also confirmed the WAN connection was not dropping every 24 hours (and yes, this was a major concern). This is the router resetting the statistics for the WAN connection for no apparent reason. On the Attached Devices page, after 24 hours, some identifying information of attached devices (ex: brand of device) randomly disappear until the router is rebooted. In addition, devices no longer connected to the router may still show up in the Attached Devices list long after the device is no longer connected to the network.
Netgear did release firmware version 22.214.171.124 for the Netgear AX6000-Nighthawk AX8 8-Stream Wi-Fi 6 router; however, preliminary reviews were less than promising with some experiencing slower performance and connectivity issues post-firmware upgrade. The latest firmware version for the Netgear AX6000-Nighthawk AX8 8-Stream Wi-Fi 6 router is version 126.96.36.199. Given prior experience, I am extremely hesitant to upgrade the firmware at this time. At the very least, I have a “stable” router even though there are some functionality bugs/issues (these bugs/issues do not affect end-users).
Netgear has a quality control problem when it comes to their firmware releases. They need to conduct more thorough beta testing before releasing firmware upgrades to customers for use in live production environments. Some Netgear routers aren’t inexpensive either. Customers should not be paying a premium for sub-par quality firmware which is crucial to operating and managing the devices.
While it’s impossible to test for every scenario, Netgear should take a closer look at its internal processes to ensure their firmware releases have met a higher standard before release. Netgear customers are not signing-up to be beta testers. The risks associated with using problematic firmware are extremely high which can lead to loss productivity, downtime or worse. Netgear needs to step up, improve their quality control and restore the Netgear brand name and its reputation to one that is representative of the highest standards of quality and reliability.
Netgear Routers Mentioned In This Post
Netgear R7000 AC1900 Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router - https://amzn.to/2IjkCR7
Netgear AX6000-Nighthawk AX8 8-Stream Wi-Fi 6 Router - https://amzn.to/2MMIjpg
Stable Netgear Routers I’ve Used
Netgear R8000 AC3200 Nighthawk AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router – https://amzn.to/2W6zSWv
Netgear R8300 AC5000 Nighthawk X8 Smart Wi-Fi Router – https://amzn.to/2AXDDEC