Setup Options and Functionality
Like its predecessor, the WNDR4500 comes with Netgear Genie firmware. The interface is available in two versions: Basic and Advanced. The router’s extra features can be accessed in the latter mode, but the Basic one is quite sufficient for setting up an internet connection and deploying a wireless network. Localized into over 20 languages, the interface offers an integrated help system with search feature and provides links to the WNDR4500-related pages of the manufacturer’s website. The interface is password-protected but the router can be managed via the internet (you can choose the port to use and limit the range of permitted IP addresses).
The home page of the Basic version of the interface shows you the current status of the device: internet and Wi-Fi connection status, connected peripherals, status of features like parental control, ReadySHARE and guest wireless network. Each of the six items links to the related setup page.
The first page of the Advanced mode offers you more information about the router such as its firmware version, MAC and IP addresses of its network interfaces, and Wi-Fi status. There is a button to reboot the device remotely and detailed network statistics. Quick router setup and WPS setup wizards are available.
The WNDR4500 can connect to the internet using a static or dynamic IP address or any of the three popular technologies: PPPoE, PPTP and L2TP. When setting up your internet connection, you specify a lot of options including the MAC address of the router’s WAN port and choose a connection mode (always on, by demand or manual). If you’ve selected the manual mode, you have to enter the router’s setup interface and press an appropriate button any time you want to enable your internet connection. The router doesn’t disconnect from the ISP’s LAN after connecting to the internet. The additional options include an integrated DyncDNS client, RIP support, user-defined routes, IGMP Proxy, and MTU size. Multiple IPv6 connection methods are supported as well. They may come in handy in the near future.
The WNDR4500 can keep track of your web traffic over the last 2 days, week, month or over the previous month. That’s not a very necessary feature in our time of flat-rate tariffs, but if you’ve got a charge tariff, you can make the router warn you with an indicator about your nearing the limit on your free monthly traffic.
The wireless modules work independently and concurrently in both frequency bands, so you can deploy two networks and assign client devices to a specific frequency band. For example, you can set the 2.4GHz module up for your smartphones and notebooks and leave the 5GHz band for your media player. While setting up a wireless network, you can specify its name, channel number (if Auto, the router tries to select the most efficient channel), maximum speed (this setting selects g/n or a/n standards and also enables dual-band mode), and security options. Your wireless network can be open or secured with WEP or WPA/WPA2-PSK. WEP is only available for 802.11a and g. Additionally, you can hide the network name, enable isolation of wireless clients (so that they could not communicate with each other), define a schedule for the Wi-Fi network to work by, impose MAC filters for client devices, set up the WPS feature or disable the radio modules altogether. The router can be used on WDS networks but its low security level and significant performance hit make it less appropriate for them. When used as a wireless access point, many of the router’s features become unavailable.
Besides the two main networks, you can deploy two guest ones (one in each frequency band) which differ in names and security settings. By default, guest network users can only access the internet, but you can allow them to access other guests and your local network if necessary.
An integrated DHCP server is responsible for setting up local clients automatically. You can choose a range of IP addresses and specify fixed MAC-IP pairs for it. This information is entered manually. The list of connected devices can be viewed on a separate interface page, and it shows all systems, not only those that have been assigned IP addresses by the router.
Port translation provides access to services on client devices. Each rule contains an internal client address, a range of internal and external ports, and protocol. DMZ and UPnP can also be used. You can view the connected UPnP devices for diagnostic purposes.
Like its predecessor, the WNDR4500 offers traffic management technologies: WMM for the wireless and QoS for the wired connection. One of four priority levels can be selected for each traffic type which is defined by application (port number), LAN port or MAC address. In this implementation, the traffic management feature is hardly practical, especially on a high-speed internet channel.
The router’s security features include a keyword filter for URLs (one local IP can be excluded from this filtering) and the restriction of access to certain services (by specifying a protocol, a range of ports of the remote system, and an address or a range of local addresses). Both lists can be enabled by a schedule in which you specify days of the week and a single time interval. The router’s clock is set up automatically by syncing with the internet. You only have to correctly choose the time zone.
The latest models of Netgear routers feature integrated OpenDNS support to implement parental control. It is a rather easy-to-configure but efficient means of blocking unwanted content on all client devices connected to the local network. It doesn’t require client software and will work even on smartphones and tablet PCs. You need to create a free account on a special website to define extra settings for this service (security level, schedule, authorization for specific clients using a client utility).
The WNDR4500 keeps a log file in text format and you can choose what types of events should be logged such as DHCP, Wi-Fi connection, UPnP, port translation, filtering and blocking reports. The log can be sent via email by a schedule or when filled up. There is only one recipient address. You can specify a login and password for the SMTP server.
All standard housekeeping features are present as well: admin password, configuration management, firmware updates. You can update the firmware via the internet without downloading it to a local PC. There’s an interesting method of restoring the admin password: using questions and answers. Considering that most users do not pay much attention to setting their router up, this can be helpful for forgetful people.