While most of our gadget nowadays start to operate wirelessly, the gadgets that power our home and offices remain connected on wires. The more we expand our networks with computers, NAS, VoIP devices, game consoles, and etc., the more network of wires is used. Hence we need more wired network ports. This can easily be done by purchasing a new network switch, or in a money-saving measure, use old router as switch replacement.
If you have any old router like the Xfinity Arris TG1682G or CenturyLink Zyxel C1100Z that is currently quite old, you can easily repurpose it as a network switch, wifi extender or repeater. Not only that you are saving a huge amount of money, but you’re also helping the environment against a possible electronic waste that’s currently polluting our water and land.
Can a Router be used as a Switch?
Yes, you can use router as switch. A router is actually a combination of various network devices. If routing is not needed, you can use the router’s networking capability to connect many devices all at once.
In this article, we will show you some ways on how to breathe a new life to your old router as a network switch. Note that we will be referring your current router as an upstream router and the router that we will be converting to network switch as a downstream router to avoid confusions.
Also Read: Top 10 Best Routers under $100
How to use a Router as a Switch?
The following are the two available ways on how to convert your downstream router to a network switch or wifi extender whatever you call it. While there is no possible harm at this repurposing project, you should take note that this process will totally disable the internet routing ability of your downstream router.
If you want to enable its routing feature in the future, you should undo each step accordingly, so you don’t run into some connection problems. However, if you are certain that you will never be using the downstream router as a router in the future, read the steps carefully to successfully make it a network switch.
Tip: Make sure to reset your old router so that all the old settings/forgotten passwords are erased and the router is in factory settings to avoid any complications.
Method 1: Disabling each featured 1 by 1
First things first, please put duct tape on the WAN port. This is really not a necessary step, but it should prevent future problems, i.e. someone plugging in a device on the port. If you’re done with this step, proceed to the additional steps below.
Step 1: Connect your downstream router to your computer using a standard Ethernet cable even if it includes a wireless signal. The changes in configuration later may cause wireless connection problems so we better off using wire.
Step 2: Launch your preferred Internet browser and enter the downstream router’s address. Usually, it’s something like 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1.
Step 3: Enter your login credentials — username and password. Unless changed before, the default username and password for the router is always “admin”. After this, a webpage that is showing the status of the router will be displayed if the router is connected correctly and if the login was successful.
Step 4: Now it is time to set the IP address of the downstream router to an address that won’t be conflicting to the upstream router. For example, if the upstream router’s IP address is set as 192.168.0.1, try changing the last number, i.e. 192.168.0.2. This setting can be found either on the status page or administration page, but it may vary depending on the brand of the router.
Step 5: For the next step, turn off the DHCP server. This server allows the downstream router to assign an IP address to each computer connected to it. Since we are repurposing the downstream router as a switch, it no longer needs to do this. Instead, we will let the upstream router to do this job instead.
Step 6: (Not necessary for all routers) After disabling the DHCP server on your downstream router, it is also now time to turn off the DNS server. The DNS server is used to translate an IP address into the more familiar “www”. The upstream router will be able to do this job.
Step 7: Turn off all the firewall options that your downstream router have. This may require you to turn off several settings, depending on the router you have.
Step 8: If your downstream router has an “Operating Mode”, change the mode of your router to gateway or switch.
Step 9: Now, time to save all the changes, and reboot the router to finalize the process. Congratulations! We just turned off the features on your downstream router that makes it a router. Now, it’ll behave more like a network switch.
If your downstream router has any port forwarding entries that may have been used for games, peer-to-peer software or other applications, remove it. If it is available in the settings, configure the wireless portion of your router to function as an access point.
If it is available in the settings, configure the wireless portion of your router to function as an access point.
Also Read: What Is WPS On Router? How Does It Work?
Method 2: If your old router has an option to disable NAT
Step 1: Disable the Network Address Translation (NAT) in your downstream router. This function enables the router to share a single Internet connection to multiple devices. However, this may also interfere with network connectivity such as corporate VPNs, VoIP, and many other services that are connected on the downstream router due to “double NAT” configuration.
Step 2: Just like the previous method, disable all the firewall options your downstream router has. Again, this may require to turn off several settings, depending on the router you have.
Step 3: Now it’s time again to change the LAN IP of the downstream router to a subnet different from the upstream router. Just connect your PC on the upstream router using a standard Ethernet cable, open Command window and type ipconfig. Your new IP address should be different from the IP address you see from your upstream router.
Let us say; your upstream router is 192.168.3.201. All you have to do is set the IP address of the downstream router to a different subnet than the upstream router. To do that, you will have to change the third octet (the third set of number, in this case, the number “3”) to a number between 1 and 253. For example, 192.168.199.1 where “3” is changed to “199”. Notice also that we’ve changed the fourth octet from “201” to “1” to further differentiate the IP address.
Step 4: Unlike the first method, we will leave the DHCP server on the downstream router. This will automatically adjust the IP address range to be in the same subnet as the IP address assigned to the LAN interface.
Disable the wireless function of the downstream router. Since it will no longer function as a router, you should unscrew the antennas, and disable any wireless functionality in the settings. This is to keep it out of the way of the upstream router.
Step 5: Now, it is time to assign a static IP address to the downstream router’s WAN port. Change the downstream router’s WAN IP to an unused IP in the same subnet as the upstream router. You can do this by logging into DHCP server controls of the upstream router.
Usually, it looks like this:
- Starting IP Address – 192.168.3.200
- Ending IP Address – 192.168.3.250
This means the DHCP server can only issue IP address in the range of 192.168.3.200-250.
You can basically use any IP address, outside and below that range, except for 0 and 255, which are reserved. You can’t also use the same IP address as the upstream router. For example, if the IP address is 192.168.3.1 (which 1 is always the last octet, i.e XXX.XXX.XXX.1), use a different IP address. This makes the 192.168.3.2 to 192.168.3.199 the safest WAN IP address that the downstream router can use. You will also have to enter the LAN IP address of the upstream router as the downstream router’s gateway.
Step 6: For the packets targeted for the LAN of the downstream router to reach their destination, you will have to create a static route on the upstream router.
Step 7: Finally, connect both routers. Connect an Ethernet cable on the LAN port of the upstream router to the WAN port of the downstream router. Depending on the available LAN ports of your router, you can now utilize all the LAN ports on your downstream router.
Instead of buying a new network switch, we were successfully breath a new life to an old router as a network switch. Not only that we can save a lot of cash from this project, but also help the environment against the possible electronic waste.