How do I turn a spare router into a dumb switch

The current home router is currently set up as the LAN gateway on and it's set to get the WAN Internet IP address from the modem, and it's set to hand out DHCP addresses from to

I've just now configured a new replacement router the same way by connecting it to the Ethernet port of my Windows PC & duplicating the setup that was on the old router (as much as was possible).

I'm going to swap them, but I might lose my Internet so I ask now.

After I replace that current router with the new router, then I have an extra router which I'd like to make some kind of future use of somehow.

I guess the simplest task is to re-use the spare router as a switch, right? (I don't really need the extra four LAN ports but why not add them anyway?)

But how would I turn the old router from routing into a "dumb" switch?

Do I change the old router IP address from to a static IP of something unused in the range of to or do I let the replacement router (which is set up to hand out DHCP addresses in that range) do it?

Does it matter what IP address I set that new "dumb" switch to?

Mainly I'm asking (before I switch over) how to turn the now spare router into something useful, such as a dumb switch (to get four more ports).

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disabling DHCP, making sure its IP addr doesn't clash with the new router, not using the WAN port, link one of it's LAN ports to one of the new router's LAN ports just about covers it, enable or disable wifi to suit.

Reply to
Andy Burns

I agree with Andy, but just wanted to add a bit of additional detail to the DHCP step.

On the new router, adjust the DHCP scope to carve out the IP address that you want to use for the old router, for example So on the new router, the DHCP scope would change from - to -

(Intentionally written that way to illustrate that has been removed from the DHCP scope.) That way, DHCP on the new router has no opportunity to assign that IP to any other node.

Then on the old router, manually assign as its LAN IP, (its WAN IP will remain blank and its WAN port will remain unused).

Insert, here, a note that if you're going to enable WiFi on both the old router and the new router, if both are so equipped, separate the two routers so that their radios aren't right next to each other.

Reply to
Char Jackson

I did the swap, which took me from when I sent that msg until now, which is a few hours because of a series of problems that I only just now overcame.

The first thing I didn't know was that the modem configuration for the WAN (let's call it didn't automatically transfer to the newly set up new router when I set up to "Get dynamically from ISP" the Internet IP address from the modem. I don't know why.

The result was I could connect to the newly set up router via wireless or via ethernet wired to one a LAN port from the PC but there was no Internet.

So I had to set up the new router to "Use static IP address" of (let's say) & only then did it work. I don't know why.

After the new router had Internet, I switched that new router setup back from "Use static IP address" to "Get dynamically from ISP" (and it still worked). I did that because I don't know if my ISP changes my IP address or not so I didn't want to take a chance. It's now set like the original was.

Now that the Internet is back, I can see your suggestions where I guess I have some options, one of which is to turn the spare router into a dumb switch (which should be the easiest thing to do with it, right?).

Is a switch a good use for a spare router? I don't really need anything in particular, so that's why I ask. I'm just trying to make use of the router now that I have it as a spare.

Are those all my options to make good use of a spare older router? (I listed them below in terms of the assumed complexity of the setup.) [1] dumb switch (gets me three or four extra LAN ports but nothing else) [2] wired repeater (full speed) physically wired to the main gateway router [3] wireless repeater (half speed) also connected to the main gateway router [4] wireless client bridge + AP connected to the main gateway router or any AP

I don't really need any of that but I guess I could always use more ports and I guess I could use better coverage in the house in lower signal areas.

Back to the dumb switch, I see another post so I'll take the setup there.

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dan wrote in news:ttthn7$2f3or$

If by switch you mean a device that takes an incoming packet and routes it to all of the other ports, I'm not sure it is possible. You might want to wander the Net and look for software to flash to the old (now surplus) router to turn it into a switch. After all, there is no hardware reason why that would not work, you just need the proper software to handle the new task.

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Thanks because I don't know what I'm doing so I appreciate the advice.

I didn't realize until it was said above that I could not only get three or four extra LAN ports out of the spare router by using it as a dumb switch, but also the 5GHz and 2GHz wi-fi access points. I didn't think of that.

That means my options for re-use of the old router seem to be these in order of what I presume would be the complexity and risk of the setup. [1] switch + AP (gets 3 or 4 ports + the 5GHz & 2GHz access points) [2] wired repeater (full speed) physically wired to the gateway router [3] wireless repeater (half speed) over the air to the gateway router [4] wireless client bridge + AP over the air to the gateway router (or over the air to any AP)

The switch idea is good because you always need more ports near the gateway router. The wired repeater is probably too much of a pain to physically wire set up far from the gateway router because I don't want to drill holes in walls and ceilings and the like just to make good use of a spare router.

The wireless repeater is easier to set up far from the gateway router but it's half speed at best. And the wireless client bridge seems to be similar to the wireless repeater. I'm not exactly sure the difference.

But I'll start with the switch plus the access points.

I was wondering about that because my phone is set to a static IP address in the same range that the DHCP "scope" (using your word) is and it works.

Thanks. I understand that you're saying to make the switch + AP on an IP address which is static and which is not handed out by the main router DHCP process.

I guess any conflict would most likely happen if/when the newly added switch + AP is offline, but in general, it's not likely to be offline.

That's the thing that is making me wonder if there's something else I should do with the spare router because the physical connection to the main gateway router means it has to be close (I'm not going to be cabling the walls).

And if it's close, then it's merely duplicating the existing coverage by the wireless access points. Better to put it farther away to get better coverage in the house, but a wired repeater is out of the question because it's too much work to run cabling.

That leaves only a wireless repeater + AP or a wireless client bridge + AP where I'm googling now to see if they're actually different or the same.

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That one's easy. You're probably already there.

I don't know what a wired repeater might be. It sounds like a regular old Access Point (AP), typically with its own unique SSID.

The router's firmware would have to support that. Most OEM's don't offer that option but you could check to see if 3rd party router firmware is available for your specific model. dd-wrt, openwrt, and tomato are all fairly popular.

You're not likely to be happy with a half duplex repeater, though. In theory, the throughput speed is cut half, but in practice it can be much worse than that.

Again, the router's firmware would have to support that, and it probably doesn't, so you'd be looking for 3rd party firmware for this option, as well.

I agree with needing more ports, up to a point, but check the speed of those ports. If they're only 100 megabit, you may want to pass in favor of a dedicated switch that handles gigabit. Switches with 5 or 8 gig ports aren't expensive anymore.

Don't count on that always working. If your scope is .3 to .254 you probably have a lot of room between the land mines but one day you may find that there's an IP conflict, which is a mess until it gets resolved. As a rule, you should never statically assign an IP address that's also subject to being assigned via DHCP.

Some higher end gear checks to see if an IP address is in use before assigning it via DHCP, but I'm thinking it's not likely that your gear does that. Most of mine doesn't.

BTW, there's no rule that says you have to put the whole address range into your DHCP scope. You could, for example, set DHCP to use .101 to .199, which is still probably far more addresses than you need for DHCP clients. Anything outside of your scope is fair game to be statically assigned.

Correct, assuming you decide to use it at all.

Reply to
Char Jackson

Ethernet switches (the ones that operate on OSI layer 2, which is most of them) forward incoming packets to a single port, unless it's a broadcast or ARP or similar. No routing at layer 2. Routing happens at layer 3.

Every router with more than one LAN port has an Ethernet switch built in, almost always a 5-port switch where the 5th port is internally connected to the router section. Therefore, every router with multiple LAN ports can be turned into an unmanaged switch via simple configuration. No extra software is required. Just disable DHCP and don't connect anything to the WAN port and you have a switch.

The router's GUI can be used.

Reply to
Char Jackson

On Mar 03, 2023, dan wrote (in article<news:ttu95e$2m1r5$>):

I don't know myself but this description is as clear as mud to me.

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both work so that your existing wireless signal can be reused and rebroadcast over a different range but they're different in how they do it.

A network bridge connects two sections of a network. The repeaters can rebroadcast wireless signals.

Two routers are used in a Wi-Fi Repeater. The first wireless router picks up the WiFi network you want to extend and transfers it to the second. You get more network coverage because the second wireless router transmits a boosted signal.

The wireless bridge can be used to transmit signals from a distant location within a building. It will then carry the signals by cable back to another bridge within the router's range. The bridge doesn't automatically repeat any signals it receives, so it eliminates the possibility of router signals being repeated to it. The remote bridge allows laptops to communicate wirelessly, first over cable and then wirelessly again to the router.

The repeater can send all traffic to the broadcast network, while bridges can only work on one segment of a broadcast network segment.

The repeater works at the physical layer in the OSI model while the bridge functions at the Data link layer. The repeater can lengthen the cable in the network while the bridge expands the network segment limit.

We hope that you found this article helpful in understanding the fundamental differences between repeaters and bridges.

I didn't. Maybe someone else can clarify what it said.

Ron, the humblest guy in town.

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He's likely to need dd-wrt but it can be installed on most recent routers.

As for the bridge versus the repeater this tries to explain dd-wrt's terminology but I find them both to be almost the same in practice.

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How Does the DD-WRT Client Wireless Bridge Differ from Repeater Mode? "A Client Bridge links computers while a Wireless Repeater connects routers. If you are looking to extend wireless access to more remote parts of a home or office then use a Repeater. However, if you are looking to create a more seamless integrated network of computers without concern for extended wireless signal, then use a Client Bridge."

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Assuming we're starting off with a soho router like the op seems to be doing, then the way I look at the choice of setting it up as either a home wireless repeater or as a home wireless client bridge is the bridge is clearly the way to go over the repeater.

I'm assuming you're not connecting different subnets for this declaration because if you're tying two networks together then you must use the bridge.

But if you're just trying to extend range inside a home on the same network, then the wireless client bridge has what I understand to be a speed advantage over the wireless repeater (assuming the same router in both setups).

The wireless client bridge also can connect to just any old access point inside your home (if you have them spread about that is) while the wireless client repeater (as far as I'm aware) must connect to another router only.

If you have a PC with an Ethernet NIC, you can use the RJ45 output to connect to either the wireless bridge or the wireless repeater so that's the same there in terms of connected to a computer by wire to extend that computer's range - but I'd use the bridge solely due to the faster speed.

In both cases you gain two new access points, where with the wireless repeater, the router has two access points (5Ghz and 2.4Ghz) located in the remote location but it's the same with the wireless client bridge since it also has the same two access points since we're comparing the same router set up in two different configurations.

In the end analysis, assuming you have a normal dual access point router set up either as a wireless client bridge or as a wireless repeater, as far as I can tell from thinking about it, both do the same job except the wireless repeater is restricted to connecting to only another router (and not another access point) and the wireless repeater is limited in speed.

That makes it a no brainer to extend signal in a home with an extra typical router set up as a wireless client bridge, which you may need DD-WRT for.

I could be wrong because when I read the descriptions of the differences, they don't sound anything like my experiences of using home soho routers as wireless client bridges and as wireless repeaters.

Let me know if I'm wrong as I'm only basing this on experience where I have a wired repeater and a wireless client bridge set up at this very moment.

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I have a two Netgear routers in my home network. One of them acts as a router - it talks to the cable modem, handles the wired LAN, and runs a wireless network for that LAN - it is placed adjacent to the cable modem and that is near a corner of the house. The other router is set, using Netgear-provided software, to be an AP (access point) and is connected to the other router by wire. The AP allows access by WiFi and routes the traffic to the first router where IP addresses are assigned, etc. The wired ports on AP make the AP look like a switch to access the LAN. Note, the wireless network hosted by the AP has a different name than the one hosted by the router.

In addition to AP mode, the AP router offers a bridge mode that seems to be very much like AP but with a few differences - I don't think you need to run wire between the router and the bridge, but am not sure. In any event, I think most fairly modern routers will offer these sorts of capabilities. You will need to grab the manual for your equipment and do some reading. If it's clear, you do it; if not, find someone or some forum to consult with specific questions. I've told you all I can remember about the topic but I'm sure that some of the better informed folks here might have memory jogged by this post. Good luck!

Reply to
Jeff Barnett

In the advanced setup for my netgear router are four buttons for four different modes like you are describing for your netgear router too.

Netgear > Advanced Setup > Router/AP/Bridge/Repeating Mode > Router Mode AP Mode Bridge Mode Repeating Mode

Like you, I'm not really sure what the difference is in terms of how a typical home owner would use them to extend their network given most homeowners only have one subnet but everyone could use greater range.

What's confusing to me is all four modes will allow the 2.4 and 5 gigahertz antennas to connect as an access point, so I don't know why they even bother having an access point mode when bridge mode will also work as an access point (both a bridge & AP at the same time) as with the repeating mode (both a repeater & an AP) as will router mode (both a router & AP).

Why even bother having an AP mode when all the other modes do that too?

Reply to
Lars Anders

"dan" wrote

| Is a switch a good use for a spare router? | I don't really need anything in particular, so that's why I ask. | I'm just trying to make use of the router now that I have it as a spare. |

I wonder if it's worth the trouble. I have spare routers, but when I wanted to go over five wired connections I just bought a network switch. I think it was $25 for a

4-port switch, which works as easily as a multi-receptacle extension cord. Some connections are fixed IP. Some are DHCP. The router handles that. (I like to avoid wifi for security and efficiency. So I've got 50' or 100' cables at Home Depot and run them next to the forced hot air heat ducts to bring ethernet outlets to the whole house.)
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My 4-ethernet-port router has one free port, so I don't expect to need more ports any time soon.

But, not knowing what the future will bring, if I needed more ports some day, would this $18.99 switch be a good choice?

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Reply to
Ken Blake

that and similar 8 port switches are fairly generic and available from a variety of manufacturers, although i've had multiple power adapter failures with netgear. fortunately, the power adapters are even more generic (12v) and easy to replace.

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OK, thanks for the info.

Reply to
Ken Blake

In Ken Blake> wrote: ...

Also, is that enhanced software worth getting and using? Or can we use a free third party software?

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Who wouldn't want extended range for free without cost or waste? And who wouldn't want to save landfills from one more piece of waste?

My thoughts are that I hate to waste things, and buying a new "anything" is a tremendous waste for the environment if everyone acted that way.

I would also say most people could use a few more ports, but as some noted, they never hook voip phones or cellular mini towers or network printers or additional wired access points or wired repeaters and the like to their main home router so most of its ports are probably unused already.

But I would assume almost everyone not living in a one-bedroom flat would like to have increased signal strength in the furthest places of the home.

Most people, I would think, would be like me in that they don't want to string wires so what's left is the choice of using the extra router as [1] smart switch (I later realized a switch can also be an access point) [2] access point (which is a switch and an access point) [3] wireless repeater (which also has access points) [4] wireless client bridge (which also has access point) [5] wired pc wireless range extender (connected to the client bridge)

What's confusing now that I think more deeply of what a typical wireless home router can do is that almost every option starts looking like the same thing if you're not bridging networks. They all seem to have access points.

Am I correct in assuming that every option listed above in some way can "extend the range" of your signal when set up on a typical home router?

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This is my first thought as well, along with benefits such as another AP for WiFi.

However, it is more complicated to set up and will require maintenance at some point down the line if the configuration changes.

Why a smart/unmanaged switch is so easy to install - and not expensive.

Indeed. Why I repurpose a lot of things or sell/give them away to someone who might need it.

WiFi does a lot to avoid cables, and a lot of "appliances" have WiFi (printers, etc) so it's appealing to avoid cabling.

I personally have run Ethernet from my home office to the downstairs AppleTV - mainly because the routing turned out to be convenient (through the bathroom under the tub, downstairs to the laundry room, through there (above the window, exposed), into the wall and down to exit near the AppleTV.

But. If I had to run it to the other end of the house I doubt I'd even try. WiFi would do it.

Of course.

Sure. With caveats and maintenance in mind.

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