How To Check and Change Your Router's Firmware (Updated)
The purpose of this guide is to step you through the process of changing the firmware inside your router. If you are unsure what firmware means, basically it's software embedded inside a programmable memory chip. This software includes security and network protocols, as well as providing many other router functions. Firmware releases allow Netgear to change functionality and improve stability, to routers that are already sold.
It's worth noting that higher firmware version numbers do not always mean better firmware. However, as of this date, the general consensus indicates that the latest firmware releases are recommended. Older firmware links are included below for completeness. In addition, it's not safe to use Chrome or Safari. IE works, some versions might be slow. I use Firefox without issue.
Keep in mind, the idea is to have as trouble-free of a firmware change as possible. It's shouldn't be about how fast can you get this done, as it's not a race. You should read this post in it's entirety before attempting to make any changes to your router. As always, YMMV.
Because there are four nearly identical models, you will first need to determine which router you own. If you already have the router connected, the easiest way to do this is to log into the router with your Web browser and type into the address field one of the following:
Once logged into the router, look on the left side under the "Maintenance" section for "Router Status" and click it to go to that page. Near the top you will find the "Hardware Version". Knowing which version of the hardware you own is important so that you pick the correct firmware later.
You own a v1 router if your "Hardware Version" reads one of the following:
Additionally, below the "Hardware Version" you will find the current "Firmware Version" and the current "GUI Language Version". More about the "GUI Language Version" later.
Now that you have established the version of the hardware you own, you will need to pick accordingly the firmware. Only v1 router owners need to pick the firmware from the appropriate region. From the list below, pick one of the direct links suitable for your router and save the firmware to your hard drive.
The official v1 router firmware are as follows:
WNDR3700/WNDR37AV Firmware Version 22.214.171.124For North America users only
The official v2 router firmware are as follows:
WNDR3700v2/WNDR37AVv2 Firmware Version 126.96.36.199Non-specific region
The firmware file should have a IMG extension. You can check this by right-clicking on the file and selecting Properties. Alternatively, you can disable "Hide extensions for known file types" in Explorer (Tools->Folder Options->View) so that file extensions are always visible. Rename the extension if required.
If you use a Mac, after downloading the Mac will attempt to mount the IMG file and fail. This is not an indication of a corrupt file.
As a added precaution, I like to make sure that the firmware I downloaded is intact. The easiest way to do this is to download the firmware a second time. I then use HashTab (free) to compare the two files. You can get HashTab HERE.
Once installed, HashTab adds a new tab to file Properties called, "File Hashes". When this tab is selected, HashTab quickly generates file hashes for the selected file. HashTab's other feature is the ability to directly compare two files.
To do this, right-click on the first file and select Properties. Go to the "File Hashes" tab and let HashTab finish generating the hashes. Either use the "Compare a file" button to locate the second file or you can simply drag-n-drop the second file over the Properties window.
If the two files match, then HashTab will display a green check mark and your good to go on to the next step. However, if the two files do not match, HashTab will display a red X. If you get a red X then you may have anything from a Internet connection problem to a failing hard drive. If the files do not match, do not proceed.
Even if you decide to skip this step, HashTab is a handy little application to have in your tool belt.
I don't like mixing saved configuration files from different firmware versions, so I recommend you open Notepad (or similar text editor) and write down all of your current router's settings and save the file. Taking screen grabs are nice, but you can't copy and paste text from a picture. If you are unsure, do both.
Use only a direct wired (LAN) cable connection to perform the firmware change. Do not use wireless (wLAN).
Okay, lets begin:
Finally, power cycle the modem and router. Unplugged both. First plug the power into the modem and allow it to finish syncing. Then, plug the power into the router. Give the router a couple extra minutes to finish syncing with the modem.
After you have successfully changed the router's firmware, under the "Maintenance" section, go to the "Router Upgrade" page. Click the "Check" button in the "Check for new version from the Internet" area. If there is a new "GUI Language Version", allow the download.
Next, remove the check mark from "Check for new version upon login". The reason for this is because 99% of the time it's unnecessary and it's safer to upload firmware from your hard drive. If you want, you can periodically check manually with the "Check" button, but do not download.
Hopefully you were able to follow this guide. Corrections are welcomed. It takes more time to read this, than actually performing the firmware change. As I mentioned before, this isn't a race.
How To Check and Change Your Router's Firmware: