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Lesson 2- Updating the Routers Firmware and setting Access Restrictions

Overview

In Lesson 2 we show you how to save the configuration changes we made in Lesson 1 and how to update the routers firmware.  The Firmware is the operating system of the router.  Next we show how to deny Internet access to a specific computer and how to set a schedule for the restrictions.

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What is Firmware?

On this D-Link router we need to go to tools and firmware. First, what is firmware and why would you want to upgrade it? The firmware is kind of like the operating system of your hardware in this case a router. Everything that you see on the router's configuration screen is the firmware. Firmware updates are the way that the router's manufacture makes improvements to the product. There can be performance improvements, bug fixes, features added, lots of good things with firmware upgrades.

Finding a Firmware Upgrade

On this D-Link router the firmware version is 1.11 and it gives us the date that the firmware version was released. There's also an option built-in to check online for the latest version. We've already do that and we've actually updated this to the 1.11 version already.  If your router doesn't have an option to do an automatic check for a newer version you can go to Google and do a search for the router's model name. We'll try a Linksys router, WRT54G, the router's model number and firmware. If we do a search one of the first listings is the Linksys.com and this looks like a product page. There's a link here for firmware and then we can go through the process of finding the version that we have and downloading the firmware.

Updating the Firmware

Back in our D-Link router to do the upgrade if we needed to on this router we would browse for the file we downloaded on our computer it's usually a .bin file and upload it.

On a Linksys router to upgrade the firmware you go to administration and firmware upgrade.  You download the latest firmware for your router, you browse, find it on your computer and click upgrade.

Saving the Routers Configuration

It's a good idea before you do that to save the routers configuration. Usually when you do a firmware update any of the settings you've already chosen for the router will be wiped out and it will be back to factory defaults almost like it's new so all the options we put in in lesson one would be wiped out. We would have to go back in and then reenter them.

Fortunately just about every router has an option to back up your configuration information. In this D-Link router it's in system and save configuration. You can save that on your computer so after you do the firmware update you can go back into system, browse to the file on your computer and restore configuration.

On a Linksys router there's also an option to save the configuration of the router under config management. To back up your current configuration click backup and save the file somewhere on your computer and to restore you browse for the configuration file and click restore.

Being able to save the configuration information and restore is very useful if you need to do a full reset on your router in case you forget your admin password or to correct any problems. In section 1 when we looked at the back of the router we mentioned the reset switch. It's much like the reset switch on your computer. If you press it just for a second it will reboot the router. If you press and hold it for a long time usually between 5 to 10 seconds it will restore the router to its factory defaults.

This came in handy for me about a week ago. I was working with the router and it just got into a little port was constantly resetting itself and I couldn't do anything except for hold down the reset button for 10 seconds and that did a complete reboot and able to get back in. Fortunately I had saved the configuration I was able to restore it which get me from having go back through and reenter everything.

Setting the Routers Date and Time

Before we move on to setting up Internet access restriction we first need to make sure that the date and time are set correctly on the router. To get the time settings you need to go to tools and time. Here we can see it's actually still set to probably the factory default back in 2004. On this D-Link router if we click copy or computer time settings it'll get the year, the month, the day and the time from your computer's clock and we can set the time zone to its correct for us Central time and save settings.

On this Linksys router to check the time settings we need to go to the setup page and on basic setup if we scroll down to the bottom we can set the time zone and select whether or not we want to adjust for daylight savings time. This Linksys router can get the month date and time of day automatically from the Internet. We will click save settings.

Internet Access Restriction

Now access restriction, what we're going to do is shut off Internet access to a particular computer. In this D-Link router it's under advanced and access control. We're going to enable access control and add a policy. It's going to walk us through Wizard. We'll click next and we're going to call this 'teen computer off' its asking us to choose a schedule. We're going to leave it is always for this example.

Select a machine. It gives us an option to enter the IP address of the computer that we're going to be shutting off Internet access to. That's not a good option though because the IP addresses change since we're using a DHCP server to hand out IP addresses to each computer. The better option is to choose MAC. The MAC is a MAC address. Every network adapter wired or wireless has a MAC address and if we click this little down arrow here we can see the MAC addresses along with the computer names of every computer that's connected to this router at the moment. The one we're going to shut off to is called Bren. It's a teenager's computer.

We will click okay. It added the machine's MAC address and we can go back and add a second computer if we wanted to if you wanted to turn off a second computer with this particular policy. We'll just leave the one MAC address and will click next. We'll choose to block all access and save.

Right now the policy is enabled so that computers Internet access is not working. If you want to re-enable it we disable the policy click okay and now the computer has access again.

Setting a Schedule

Next were going to do something that's a little bit more useful. We're going to set a schedule to turn off web access to this computer on school nights at 10 o'clock and re-enable it at 6 AM. In this D-Link router the schedule is actually in a separate section of the routers configuration. We need to go to tools and schedules. We're going to name the rule 'teen weekday off' were going to leave it as select days and are going to turn it off on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. These are school nights.

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