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Give your router new superpowers by installing DD-WRT

Frustrated by the software limitations on your router? Go ahead and replace that software with the Linux-powered DD-WRT firmware. Maybe you want to use an old router as a second access point for your home network, or as a Wi-Fi bridge. Maybe you want more precise control over how your bandwidth is used — so you can prioritize bandwidth for your gaming sessions — or perhaps you just hate the firmware that came with your router and want something with more features.

Related: Looking for network access in the kitchen? Here’s how to boost your Wi-Fi signal

Whatever you want your router to do, odds are that DD-WRT can do it. Installing DD-WRT can be complicated, but the most common method includes using the “upgrade firmware” functionality built into your router’s default firmware.

That said, there’s is no universal way to install DD-WRT. Different routers require different versions of the firmware, and many require specific steps. We can’t even begin to outline all of these in a single article. Instead, we’re going to outline how installation works in the easiest cases, while also explaining where to find the correct information should you encounter more advanced scenarios. Let’s get started.

The first thing you need to do is ensure that your router is compatible. Head to the DD-WRT database, then type in the exact model number of your router. This database will tell you your router is one of four things:

Odds are that your router isn’t supported if it isn’t listed here, but you could also try searching the DD-WRT wiki, or simply Googling your router model number followed by “DD-WRT.” Note that “close enough” doesn’t work — you need the exact model number. Often, a different letter or number in a model name can signify and entirely different router.

Related: Actually, the FCC isn’t banning third-party router firmware

Back to the database. For this article we’re going to install DD-WRT on an old Linksys e1000 v2.1, as a demonstration. Here are our database results:

As you can see, our router is supported. But knowing that isn’t enough. To install DD-WRT, you need to find out about any specific steps your router might require, and you also need to be absolutely certain you’ve found firmware compatible with your router. This brings us to our next step.

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