Good Settings to Speed Up a Netgear Router
By Andy Walton
Your Netgear router features a comprehensive menu interface, allowing you to tweak many aspects of the router's operation. Although Netgear devices are designed to run with minimal configuration, exploring the more advanced aspects of your router's menu system is useful if you want to maximize its performance. In particular, settings such as dual band operation and Media Access Control filtering allow you to improve transfer rates while keeping your network free of unwanted users.
Change the MTU
Packet-switching networks such as the Internet break data into chunks known as “packets” before transmission. A router's Maximum Transmission Unit is the size of the largest packet that it can send. Selecting an MTU can be challenging, as although larger packets contain more data, they can destabilize the network. The optimum MTU size changes depending on the applications you are running. For example, Netgear recommends you reduce the MTU from its default value of 1500 to 1436 to get the best performance from a VPN connection. Find the MTU settings in the Advanced section of the Netgear menu.
Change Wireless Channel
Changing channels helps to generate a clean wireless signal by avoiding frequencies that have a lot of local interference. You can change your router's wireless channel from the Wireless Settings menu. As a rule of thumb, try channels 1, 6 or 11, as these channels do not overlap each other on the frequency spectrum. Alternatively, some Netgear devices support dual band transmission. This causes the device to transmit in a completely different frequency band, and is an effective way of ensuring a clean signal.
Set Up MAC Filtering
Media Access Control filtering is a method of restricting network access. With MAC filtering enabled, all network traffic is blocked except traffic from certain pre-approved MAC addresses. Turn this feature on from the Security tab of the Netgear menu. Although primarily a security feature, MAC filtering helps to improve network efficiency by ensuring that no unwanted devices can access the network. This in turn can produce speed benefits, as all available bandwidth is allocated to legitimate devices.
A router's firmware is the built-in software that governs the device's operation. Netgear periodically releases firmware updates, some of which are intended to make its devices run faster or more efficiently. In addition, firmware updates are often used to patch security vulnerabilities that have been discovered since the router's release, making it important that you stay up to date with them. Check for firmware updates from within the Netgear menu by going to the “Administration” panel and clicking on “Firmware Update.”
Andy Walton has been a technology writer since 2009, specializing in networking and mobile communications. He was previously an IT technician and product manager. Walton is based in Leicester, England, and holds a bachelor's degree in information systems from the University of Leeds.