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WD Wireless Extender Works Well - Need Better Instructions
on August 27, 2013
This product again reconfirmed my thought that WD Engineers didn't write the instruction for customers who didn't have a lot of experience with wireless technologies. They wrote it for technically advanced users like ... engineers. I hope WD Management team will improve this as WD seems to have good products that frustrate ordinary customers. I would give it 4 stars on technical merit and 2 on users friendliness. Hence 3 stars on average.
It does it work well - once you get it set up properly. My 5 Ghz wi-fi network is exceptionally weak. So I use this extender to extend my 5 Ghz network to off load all the devices that are capable of 5 Ghz off of 2.4 Ghz which is crowded. This extender will work with your 2.4 Ghz as well. But new generation of wi-fi routers is so good that unless you live in a mansion or have a huge backyard, you would not need an extender. By the way, if you live in apartments or condos that are crowded with wi-fi routers from every resident in a small area, you will have wi-fi collision which this extender won't help. That is another topic all together.
There are a few conditions and observations that I thought may help lessen the frustration for others:
1. The power button is a mechanical switch. That means, you have to press it farther than an electronic button which only needs to make contact.
2. It takes about 15 second for the power up procedure to complete. You can tell by the power light staying on (instead of blinking). I was impatience and pressed all sorts of buttons hoping it would work. It would not.
3. Please note, you will need to repeat the set up for 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz separately. Just slide the selector on the extender to the frequency you want to set up first or second.
4. Before you press the Wi-fi Protected Setup (WPS) buttons on both the router and the extender, make sure you *enable* your WSP in your router. You need to know how to do this or have someone who does to help. Casual users might not have disabled this feature, so you may only need to check. Advanced users may have disabled this feature. Or some routers may have this feature disabled by default. When in doubt, just set up as per the instruction and see if it works. The information provided here is in case you could not make it work; then it could be one of the causes.
5. You need to have your wireless SSID broadcast. SSID is the name of your wireless network. "SSID broadcast" is a default setup in all routers I am familiar with. However, some advanced users may have turned off (and forgot). I turned off my SSID broadcast for both 2.4 and 5 Ghz to make it a little harder for others to see my wireless networks. [Please note, the signal is in the air, turning off the SSID broadcast only prevents casual snoopers to see your networks - not the determined ones with proper tools.] The extender needs to "see" your broadcast SSID to extend it. You can turn off your SSID broadcast after you are done with the set up.
6. It doesn't matter if you have a physical WPS button or not, you can always press this button in your router set up in the browser. For my WD router, it is in Wireless tab/screen in the advanced area. There's a big blue WPS button on the screen and I simply clicked on it with a mouse pointer.
7. After you press the WPS button on the router, either by physical button or on the browser, go and press the WPS button on the extender. No rush here as they give you 120 seconds to press the second button. The wireless light on the extender will flash slowly. When the light flashes quickly, the extender encounters some errors. About 60-90 seconds later (this is longer than my patience), the wireless light on the extender will be steady. It is connected to your wireless now and is extending it.
8. ... But... you still need to wait for about 10 seconds for the wireless signal display on the body of the extender to light up (I think this display is a clever feature). Now you are ready to test your new wireless range.
9. I would suggest that you set up the extender next to your wireless router for easy access to both. When the extender has been set up, you can unplug it and move it around to see where it will best *both* receives a decent wireless signal from your router, *and* extend that signal to the rest of the house. Now use your smart phone and go to the corner where you used to have weak signal - less than 4 bars, and observe your wireless strength to confirm you have full 4 bars (on my iphone). Your extender will remember the set up even if you turn if off or unplug it to move it around.
Note: The signal strength display on the body of the extender is somewhat exaggerating. They use 3 bars to indicate one signal level. For example, you will see ::: This is one level strength, :::::: This is 2 level strength. There are only 3 levels ::::::::: I have only one level and my signal is boosted to full strength which is the whole goal of the extender. Please note that this signal strength indicates the strength of the signal of your router as "seen" by the extender. The extender job is to boost this signal to full strength from where it sits.
So if you are frustrated, you need to grab someone who has an understanding of wireless and wireless security principles to help you. Or read Amazon.com reviews to try for yourself. The fun is in the challenge. Please don't be frustrated. You are expert in you own field if not wireless technology. Good luck and have fun.