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Western Digital My Net N900 HD Router Review

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Wired and Wireless Performance / Parental Controls

*Edit* - Reader TheBradyReport below asked about Parental Controls, which I dove into and appended below.

First up: wired performance to network attached storage. We copied large files from a local Samsung 830 SSD to a USB 2.0 connected 32GB Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate. Neither should have been the bottleneck for this test. LAN speed was 1 Gbit.

Reading from the N900:

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Writing to the N900:

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Next up: wireless performance. For the moment the fasest thing we had handy for WiFi testing was an Asus Ultrabook equipped with am Atheros AR9485WB-EG which is more like a 1x2 configuration. While it definitely can't hit 450Mbps, it does allow us to see just how much performance can be squeezed out of it when linked to the My Net N900. As a point of reference, this same Netbook yields a 65Mbps link when connected to my own personal Linksys WRT400N (2x2, configured at 20MHz channel width on the 2.4GHz band). Here we see the very same Ultrabook achieve just under 90Mbps when paired to the N900:

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With the slower link being the bottlenect, we verified this by repeating our copy from above:

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This was as good as we could get, but we were clearly limited by the Atheros radio in the Ultrabook. That said, the N900 was able to get an otherwise free 50% performance gain as compared to the same connected to a decent 2x2 router. Switching the N900's 2.4Ghz radio to 40MHz channel width enabled a full 90Mbps link:

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We're working on getting a high end 3x3 host machine for testing the maximum possible speeds, but remember these are standard mini-PCIe network radio cards, so they should perform just as well here as they do on any other Atheros driven 3x3 array equipped router.

*EDIT* New content below:

Parental Controls

I half expected the Parental Controls to be just like any other router, but when I dove into it a bit further, I realized it had a rich web-based interface that extended via Western Digital's servers. Here's the concept: The admin (read parent) registers the MyNet router, via the firmware, with a special WDC-hosted site. The same page also allows connected devices to be reported and linked to the user-created account as well:

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Once registered and linked, the firmware Parental Controls page contains a link that goes straight to the hosted site, where you login with the credentials you created when initially setting it up. Their web interface neatly matches that of the router firmware itself, making for a seamless experience. Once there, you can configure 'Master' (default) rules that apply across all links, or additional rules can be set by individual devices, provided they were previously registered to the site via the firmware interface:

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Master and per-device settings can be configured with safe / block lists:

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...or with a very slick time block interface:

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The parental controls were very cool to check out, and it appears the interface can be logged into from anywhere, and those changes would presumably sync back down to the MyNet router. This means parents can change rules or lock out interfaces while traveling or away from home, without needing to remote into the network by other means. Good stuff indeed.

June 14, 2012 | 02:59 PM - Posted by PCskillet

Besides carrying over the horribly insecure WPS "feature," looks great! Can't wait to play with one.

June 14, 2012 | 07:51 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Good call there. I've requested an answer from their team. I'd imagine there is some simple brute force prevention I place, but it never hurts to ask.

For those unaware of this potential vulnerability:

tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityResponse/cisco-sr-20120111-wps

June 15, 2012 | 12:37 AM - Posted by Mangix

or they could simply disable external registrar functionality thereby making the whole vulnerability non-existent. case in point, i have WPS enabled on my 2Wire and it is not vulnerable to reaver style attacks(I tried for 30 minutes with the correct pin)

June 15, 2012 | 03:06 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

For those curious, WPS *can* be disabled from within the firmware.

June 17, 2012 | 05:00 AM - Posted by Tasos (not verified)

It's a shame that with all those ports they didn't think to add 802.3ad (link aggregation). If it had this, it would really be really hard to beat.

April 12, 2013 | 02:05 AM - Posted by honey (not verified)

For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.
realforexbroker.com

June 17, 2012 | 06:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Are these routers using Broadcom chips?
I hope they do. Then I could use Tomato firmware on them.

June 18, 2012 | 11:39 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

It's Atheros throughout. Check the pics on page two for the gory details.

June 18, 2012 | 02:14 PM - Posted by TheBradyReport

Any chance you have some screen shots or details on the Parental Controls or Access Restrictions? One of the main reasons I use Tomato today on my NetGear is the ability to limit access to my kids computers by date/time etc. Also web usage logs is another big one. And last, real time network graphing?

I'd just about given up on an off the shelf router being useful but I may have to take a look at this one.

I just wish I could afford to buy a copy of ixia Chariot for testing :-)

June 18, 2012 | 11:19 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

I'll see if I can get some for you :)

June 19, 2012 | 12:30 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Ask and ye shall receive:

http://www.pcper.com/reviews/General-Tech/Western-Digital-My-Net-N900-HD-Router-Review/Wired-and-Wireless-Performance-Par (scroll down)

The Parental Controls are pretty darn sweet, now that I've took some additional time and dug into them. Thanks for the question there. Access restrictions are covered there, and MAC filtering should be able to cover any unregistered devices.

Haven't found any network graphing as of yet...

June 20, 2012 | 11:05 PM - Posted by TheBradyReport

Thanks Allyn. Good stuff. I'll have to review one of these. I used to work for USRobotics and 3Com so I've been looking for a better router for 10 years. After 30-40 of them I'm still looking :-)

The QOS looks great but I'd like to see how much control I can have over it. I want to be able to manage the QOS by protocol, IP, maybe even time. I can do it in Tomato today pretty well.

The network graphing is a standard feature now on most open source router firmware, it would be nice to see them add it in or even better, create an API so you could make an app for your mobile/tablet/desktop gadget to see the traffic.

Parental Control looks decent. I'll have to check it out.

June 23, 2012 | 11:48 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Wish this had ac. It's a bit late in the game to buy an n router.

June 25, 2012 | 08:58 PM - Posted by Senzar (not verified)

Two aspects concerns me.

Potential breakdown of the cooling fan in the long run in dusty environment. Fans do fail in time being mechanical.

When you lay the router on a flat surface, air circulation at the bottom may not be sufficient in unclean industrial environment. WD could have provided optional 1/2 in legs with self adhesive tape to provide better clearance at the bottom. I have used a mod with 1/2 in plastic end caps (4) on pancake type routers from Linksys.

June 26, 2012 | 05:09 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The fan should only come on during extreme heat situations. It's not configured to run constantly.

August 17, 2012 | 11:01 AM - Posted by Senzar (not verified)

I have it on my desk with good ventilation and the still fan comes on probably to keep innards cool. We will have to wait till users find the failing fans. Still I feel the designers could have avoided the cooling fan.

June 28, 2012 | 11:23 PM - Posted by Someone (not verified)

Besides remote management (which can be done without a middle man server) why are the Parental Controls configured outside of the router? From the images in the article it doesn't appear to be doing anything that exciting. To me allowing a remote server push a configuration to my router is a security liability, especially if the router is hosting storage devices. The Cisco Connect Cloud which just started rolling out is this way. You configure that router on their site and can't connect directly (without disconnecting the internet connection and then it is limited what you can do) which seems like a terrible idea since all you need is your account hacked for someone to get full access to your storage devices. I'm hoping the Cisco Connect Cloud idea doesn't catch on.

July 4, 2012 | 11:53 AM - Posted by Mum (not verified)

I am researching routers as our current one seems to be getting tired and we are having to re-set it all the time. I have alos been looking to buy a back up storage device. We have 3 computers and 2 laptops in our household. We watch movies via netflix and take hundreds of photos a month. Would this device be the answer to both my needs?
One last question: our current place for router is in basement - I have heard it should be up top in attic?
thanks for your answers, "Mother learning technical stuff"

August 10, 2012 | 05:58 PM - Posted by Curtis (not verified)

Mum - Dont put it in the attic, this introduces a lot of extra heat that can break the device down prematurely. I suggest somewhere in the middle. With the multi directional antennas nowadays, dead center of the house should provide the best coverage.

Hope this helps.

Allyn,

Thank you for an awesome write up. Helped me decide to keep my new WD MyNet N900 2tb Central :).

November 19, 2012 | 05:44 AM - Posted by Darrell (not verified)

hope this helps I have a 50mbps line which goes into a real cisco 3000 series router. From there I go into a gb layer 3 procurve switch. I have 254 static ip's one of wich goes to the n900 for my lan internet. The rest used by servers in my server farm in my basement. The gb wan port is a must have in my network configuration as I transfer large files from my desktop to various web server in my farm. One thing the wan port default is at 512kbps which is horrible so I manually set it to 20000 which is about 20mbps. I have no issues with streaming from any service. I have tried the netgear 900 and its horrible at transferring large files across the wan port to my servers. Hope this helps.

October 3, 2013 | 06:12 AM - Posted by felvin (not verified)

I never knew that Western Digital had entered into the networking segment. This was completely unexpected! I can't wait to get my hands on one to set up in my home combined with the 2TB that I already have. http://www.windowsonlinesupportnow.com

April 3, 2014 | 02:50 PM - Posted by Wallet passbee Media (not verified)

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