First a big thank you to Belkin for providing the Belkin 4 port router for this Review.
Up until a few days ago I only had one computer to work on here and then I decided I would build a second one out of some parts I had laying around. It was at this time that I was thinking about getting both of the the computers I had on the Internet and so to do that I needed a router and figured there was no better time for a router review then right now.
Over the last couple of days I have used this router and so far it has performed well with only a few exceptions.
The install for the router was good but a bit confusing if you were reading the quick start guide. I was doing what the quick start guide said to do and then fired up the software for the router that come on the CD and it told me to undo what the quick start guide had told me to do lol. My advice is only follow what the CD ROM tells you and your install of the router will be a smooth one.
I was quite surprised at how easy it was to install the router. My Internet connection I have uses PPPoE and I was wondering if that would be a problem or not. As it turns out it was super simple to get the router working in only a few minutes.
Speed of the router is good as well I haven't noticed any decline in Internet speed when doing downloads or anything like that. Some web pages however seem to take a bit longer to load but only by a second or so, and most pages work the same as they did without the router.
The security of the router though is a problem for me. As soon as I got the router installed I headed over to www.grc.com and used the shields up test to probe the firewall in the router. You can imagine my surprise when it failed the stealth test.
The reason why its failing boils down to 3 problems with the router. Problem number one is the router by default had the ICMP ping request on and that was one of the things that caused the router to fail the the test. The ICMP ping request can be turned on or off in the router and its on by default in the router. The next problem after that one was fixed was the router again by default comes with port 515 open and again this causes it to fail the shields up test. This time however there is no on or off for port 515. port 515 is used in Unix/Linux printing and is the reason its open because this router also works with them Operating Systems. The way to get around this is shown in the screen shot below you can forward the port 515 to a dead IP address and that will make it pass the test for shields up.
So not to bad we had 3 problems and so far have solved 2 of them. The final problem the router has is perhaps the worst one of all because there is no fix. This last problem is, for whatever reason the router responds to the shields up test for port 0. This port isn't even used yet for whatever reason it comes back as closed instead of stealth. If you don't understand why this is problem its because people can run port scanners on all your ports. If your ports don't respond at all they are considered stealth, however if any of your ports do respond then a would be attacker would know something is there do to this one closed port that shows up.
When I found out about this I called the free support phone line for Belkin and talked to someone there and his response was you can't do anything about the port 0 being closed. One would think that you could forward port 0 like you could port 515 to a dead IP but you can't. The reason why you can't is the port forwarding for the router starts at port 1 if you try and forward port 0 it causes an error.
So depending on how much of a security freak you are this problem may or may not bother you. What kills me is other then port 0 every other port is stealth. All the stealth ports might as well not even be stealth if port zero shows there is in fact something there.
In conclusion its up to the end user and if you are a security freak or not. If you don't care about the fact that port zero gives you away then by all means get the router. If on the other hand you like to remain as hidden as possible while connected to the Internet then you may want to look at a different router. If we are lucky and if the problem can be fixed maybe Belkin will release a firmware update for the router that will address these problems. At the time of this article you could buy the Belkin F5D5231-4 4 port Router for about $50.00 U.S.
Below are some pictures of the router and the web interface for the router Enjoy!
UPDATE DEC 2 2005..
This is a UPDATE to the Belkin router Review that was done on November 4th 2005.
Shortly after doing my Review of the Belkin router I was playing Call of Duty 2 and while playing that I was getting constant “Connection Problems” showing up on my screen. At first I thought it was the game however the “connection problem” was showing up every 9 and half minutes. I know it was 9 and half minutes because I started to time it when I noticed it.
The game problem also started to make me wonder about the Team Speak problem I was getting as well. Before running the router I would get the odd packet loss in Team Speak like everyone else would. After hooking this router up though my packet loss on several occasions shot up to more then 50% and did this for several days in a row.
So now I had to figure out what in the hell was going on, I knew that with both the game and Team Speak having issues something had to be going on with the router. After doing some searching on the Internet I come to the conclusion the router for whatever reason was dropping the Internet connection every 9 and half minutes. This dropping of the connection was further backed up when I went back into call of duty 2 and started playing it and when I seen the “Connection Problems” sign show up on my screen I looked over at the router and sure enough the connected light was flashing on the router.
I knew that with the connected light flashing on the router that the router truly was at fault. My next task was to figure what in the hell was wrong with the router. For a day or two I went back searching the Internet hoping to find something out about the router like a setting somewhere however I didn't find anything.
So one day I was looking at the PPPoE config page and noticed the disconnect after so many minutes was checked off but yet the value in the box for minutes was zero. So I figured I would uncheck this box since I didn't want the router disconnecting at all. After I unchecked the disconnect after so many minutes I saved the router settings and just for the hell of it I unplugged the power and then powered the router back up.
After making the changes I made the router now no longer dissconnects after 9 and half minutes. I'm still not even sure if unchecking the dissconnect after so many minutes even did anything. It could have just been a bug and after unplugging the router and plugging it in again it was back to normal. Whatever the cause one of them two things I did fixed the router and it has been working fine ever since.
I tried contacting Belkin over this router issue numerous times and at first I thought the support people seemed like they were willing to help out. However as soon as I sent the e-mail off to the tech support guy witch asked about the dissconnect problem and also about some security issues with port 0 and this router I never heard back from him. I sent this guy several e-mails and even told the person at Belkin who gave me the router for Review about my e-mails and still no response from the tech guy as of yet.
I don't think the Belkin tech support people know how to respond to my questions. Or maybe they simply don't have any answers for me but one thing is for sure they most certainly are not getting in contact with me either way to let me know whats going on.
So do to the lack of support from Belkin I have to change my original view on this product and tell people not to purchase this router at all. If they ever do come around and fix this product and overhaul their support system then maybe I will recant my view but until that happens I'm sticking by what I have said here.