Configuring a Netgear BR500 router VPN

I have been using Netgear routers and switches for years, and decided to update my home router after it failed two weeks ago. I had a Netgear FVX318N as our VPN router.

The old router that failed.

Consulting my brother, he recommended the BR500 due to its higher throughput, and it introduced a new function called “Insight”, which is intended to make the configuration of a VPN easier.

As of 29 April 2020, It has been 10 days since I tried to install the routers on both ends (home and work) of the VPN, and my impression to date is that the BR500 is NOT READY for a production environment. The reason for this is that the Insight cloud-based VPN service has failed on most days since the installation.

A typical indication when the VPN is not working.

Anyways, here is my ‘journey’ of the installation service, I hope it helps someone.

Buying the Netgear BR500 router

First I started shopping around for the routers, and realized that the BR500 is a single unit, the BRK500 is a dual unit. I also tried to figure out if a BR500 could hook up to a vpn with my existing SRX5308 Netgear Prosafe router. There is basically no information on this, other than a statement on Netgear’s site saying that the only supported vpn is a BR500 -> BR500, using insight cloud services from Netgear. So, I went with the BRK500, on unit for home, one unit for work.

I shopped on Netgear.com, Bestbuy.com, Amazon.com, Frys.com, and MicroCenter.com. Pricing and availability was different in most of the locations. I considered getting it at Netgear.com for $349.95, but the deliveries were a week or two, and my home router (Netgear ProSafe FVS318N) was not working, and I use the VPN to my office all the time (every day, data, voice, etc.). Frys didn’t carry it (according to their website), Bestbuy didn’t have the BR500, Amazon had it with limited availabilities at prices slightly less and several offerings significantly more than list price, and at one of my local MicroCenter stores they had inventory of 3 units of BRK500, marked down from $499 to $399.95. Fortunately, they MicroCenter will match internet pricing.

Off to MicroCenter I went, there was a line due to the Coronavirus social distancing. After about 15 minutes, I was allowed in, and headed over the router row. No sign of the BRK500, so I asked one of the assistants for help. The first time to the back of the store was unsuccessful, we searched the router isle one more time, and then the helper went to back of the store. This time he found it (thankfully), put a sticker on it, and I told him of the (new?) retail price, so he looked it up and made a note in his computer.

At the checkout counter, I had to tell the worker that it was a ‘meet competition’ price, she had to look it up in her computer, and call the manager over to ok it.

Step one complete!

Waiting in line at MicroCenter
Corona Virus Warning

Installing the Netgear BR500 at home

Ok, ok, ok… I got in ‘big trouble’ the previous night when we were watching something on Netflix, and the internet went out. So the quicker I got the internet going again, the better.

Removing the Netgear ProSafe FVS318N

This was somewhat straight forward:

  1. Turn off the router
  2. Unplug the WAN port cable
  3. Unplug the LAN port cable(s)

Our home network isn’t super complicated, but it’s not super simple…

  • We have two laser printers (color and b/w) on the network
  • I use cables to distribute wired internet connections around the house
  • and use Netgear Switches to connect multiple devices near a connection (i.e. Apple TV, Tivo and Rokus near the TV set.
  • Apple Airport Extreme and Airport express to create wifi access and Apple Music ‘bridges’ to several stereos in the house
  • Netgear Powerline adapters to send the internet to back of the yard via the electricity wires. See my post on that.
  • As far as clients go, we have IPhones, IPads, Windows PCs, Apple Portables, Unix machines (linux/hpux,solaris)

So changing out the router might be simple, it might be complicated… One thing that worked out well at home is that our network is 192.168.1.x, which is the default network for the LAN side of the BR500. The WAN side of the BR500 is configured via DHCP, and we have a Comcast supplied internet, with a Netgear cable modem, so this looked like it might be simple.

Installing the Router at Work

Configuring the VPN

Monitoring the VPN

As of right now, the VPN is working, but it is tempermental, in that the VPN starts and stops with mind of its own. Instead of ‘forever’ rating it as unreliable, I am posting the real-time graphs to show you the ping times from work to home… you can decide if it’s reliable or not.

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