How to Flash Your Router with DD-WRT – Full Installation Guide

Installing DD-WRT on a router by yourself isn’t an easy feat. If you’re not that tech savvy and don’t have a background in computer science, the resources that you can find on the internet may end up confusing you more than helping. The truth is, flashing your router isn’t easy. It’s not exceptionally difficult either, it just needs a lot of focus, research, and an installation guide.

How to Flash Your Router with DD-WRT - Full Guide

This is where this guide comes in. If you’re someone who doesn’t have much of a background in software but still want to flash your router with DD-WRT, this is the guide for you.

Remember, though. This is a complicated process and a lot of the research that you need before you can start the installation process needs to be done by you and you alone. This guide is supposed to help you out during the process, but it isn’t the end-all of all DD-WRT installation guides. Please, read the guide carefully and fully before you start your installing DD-WRT onto your router.

What is DD-WRT?

DD-WRT is firmware, which is a kind of permanent software, the operates a router. DD-WRT is Linux-based, free, and open-sourced, which makes it highly configurable. That means that having a router with DD-WRT as its operating system will give you more control over your router. It will also give your router greater functionality since it’s non-commercial aspect means it can come with a multitude of features.

In other words, DD-WRT is a router operating system that enhances and upgrades your wireless internet router.

Why Would you Flash Your Router?

As I said above, DD-WRT gives you more control over your connection. Advanced users can use DD-WRT to control many different aspects of their connection, but the most common uses for a DD-WRT router are:

  • Install a VPN onto your Router: Once you have a router that’s running on DD-WRT, you can configure a VPN onto the router and protect all of your connected devices. You can check out our list of the best VPNs to use with DD-WRT routers here.
  • Boost Your WiFi Signal: DD-WRT lets you change your wireless channel from within its settings. You can pick a channel that doesn’t have a lot of routers connected to it and enjoy a faster internet connection.
  • Access Your Home Network Remotely: If you chose to turn your router into your own personal VPN server, then you can access all of the devices on your home network remotely. This is very handy if you have important files that you need on-the-go, but don’t want to copy them off of your computer.

WARNING: Things You Should Pay Attention To

Before you start the process of flashing your router, there are a couple of things you need to double-check. You don’t want to brick (break) your router by installing the wrong version of DD-WRT. Even though this guide discusses flashing your router in detail, you still have to do some homework on your own.

Again, it is very important to do your own research before you try to flash your router.

The first thing you need to double check is the make and model of your router. Not every router is compatible with DD-WRT, and DD-WRT isn’t compatible with all routers. This shouldn’t be a difficult step to finalize, all you have to do is get the make and model off the back of your router and then check to see if it’s compatible. You can check if you have a supported device by looking over this list on DD-WRT’s wiki page. After you do that, take a look at this list of known incompatible devices just to be extra sure. If you find out that your router works fine with DD-WRT, you can move on.

After you’ve checked for compatibility, you need to make sure that the firmware you download for the installation matches your router. If you install the wrong firmware, you will brick your router. On the supported devices page, you’ll find all the information you need about the firmware you should download and the build you should choose for your router. The page is a little messy and uses a lot of advanced technical jargon but that shouldn’t scare you. You can find the details about the firmware you should download by scrolling down to the list of devices.  Be sure to follow the page to the T. You should also check out this forum, as there is a lot of information that can help you find the right firmware to download.

How to Download DD-WRT Firmware

When you go to DD-WRT’s wiki, you might get a little overwhelmed. As an average user who wants to flash his/her router, you don’t need to go into all of the technical details. Remember, DD-WRT is an open-sourced software. That means that any developer who wants to create his/her own version can download the primary code and tweak it the way he/she wants. That’s why there are so many different versions and builds for DD-WRT. As a rule of thumb, only download the firmware that was made by Kong or by BrainSlayer (who happens to be the original developer).

To stay on the safe side, let’s stick with BrainSlayer’s builds. BrainSlayer updates his builds regularly, but you don’t have to. You can download the firmware here. All you have to do is go to the latest upgrade, click on the file that has the name and make of your router, and download the file that has the word “firmware” included in its name.

Setup Your Hardware

Now that you have the file you need, you need to set up the hardware that you’re going to be using. For this, you will need:

  • Your router
  • A PC or a Laptop
  • An Ethernet cable
  • A stable power supply

Once you have all of that, simply follow these steps to set up your hardware:

  1. Plug in your router and turn it on.
  2. Take the ethernet cable and connect the router with the PC or laptop. On the router, plug the ethernet cable into one of the LAN ports. Do not plug it in the port that says “WAN”.
  3. Plug the other end of the ethernet cable into your PC or laptop’s LAN port.
  4. Turn off your computer’s internet connection. In fact, just turn off the WiFi entirely. If your computer is connected the internet while you’re flashing your router, there is a very high possibility that you will brick the router by mistake.

Once you’ve set all of this up, you can move on to installing the firmware you downloaded earlier.

How to Install DD-WRT

From here on out, it’s all a matter of following a step by step process. Some routers may have slight variations, and I highly suggest (no, I’m telling you to do this) that you check out the installation guides for your individual router if available. You should find the guides the same place you found the builds for your router on the supported devices page. If there’s no special installation guide, then follow these steps:

  1. Log into your router’s Admin page. You can do this by typing in your router’s IP into your browser address bar. You’ll find the IP on the back of your router or in your router’s manual. Most likely, it will start with “192.168.x.x” or “10.0.x.x.”.
  2. Sign into your account and go to the Admin section.
  3. Choose Firmware Upgrade.
  4. Click on “select file” and upload your DD-WRT firmware (the file you downloaded earlier).
  5. Now, wait for the router to update. Do not do anything with your router or your laptop/PC while this is happening. In fact, go do something else entirely and come back in a few minutes.

Now that you’ve installed the firmware, you can reconnect to the internet. Go back to the router’s admin page. You may be asked to enter a  username/password. The default for this is root/admin.

After you log in, you can see the default page of your newly flashed DD-WRT router. From there, you can tinker with all of the features that you now have. If you want to make your DD-WRT secure, you should consider configuring a VPN onto your DD-WRT router.

How to Hard Reset Your Router

Now, it’s recommended that you do a Hard Reset for your router to make sure that all of the memory from your old firmware is gone. Don’t worry, doing a hard reset won’t remove your new firmware. To do a hard reset, you should:

  1. Hold down the reset button. The reset button should be held down throughout the whole reset process
  2. Count to 30 seconds
  3. Unplug the router from the power source for 30 seconds
  4. Finally, re-plug the router and wait for another 30 seconds

This way, you can make sure that nothing from your old firmware will affect the DD-WRT.

Flashing Your Router with DD-WRT – Final Thoughts

A DD-WRT router gives you an unprecedented level of control over your internet connection. That’s why it’s important to know how to flash your router with DD-WRT without bricking it. When you’re following this guide or dealing with firmware in general, be sure to read all of the information and do your research before you start the installation process. And remember, this is a learning process. It’s ok to take your time before you get the hang of this, and it’s totally acceptable to buy a router with DD-WRT pre-installed.

Good luck!

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