Replacing My Apple AirPort Extreme Routers
There are a number of things needed in today's technological world. These includes a device to use as well as a way to connect the device to the internet. If you have an iPhone you can easily use cellular data, however not everybody has unlimited data plans. More often you will likely connect to a Wi-Fi access point.
Even though a vast majority of people simply use the wireless connection that is provided with their internet service provider’s DSL or cable modem. Clearly, this approach is the easiest for most users. However, there are some who prefer to use their own cable modem and wireless router. I am one of those that prefers to use my own cable modem and router, and I have been doing so for a long time. When it comes to wireless routers there are an almost infinite number of options available for purchase.
Some possible manufacturers include D-Link, Netgear, TP-Link, Linksys, Asus, Google, and even Amazon. One option that used to be available was a line of wireless routers from Apple, called the AirPort line of products. Apple's foray into wireless began in 1999 with the introduction of the AirPort Graphite router. This model provided the basics, but it was the start of a line of products that would last until April of 2018, or just about 19 years. At this point Apple announced that they were discontinuing the AirPort line of products, including the Time Capsule.
Over the life of the AirPort line there were a total of sixteen different products. 2 AirPort, 3 AirPort Express, 6 AirPort Extreme, and 5 different Time Capsules. The final devices, the 6th Generation AirPort Extreme and 5th Generation Time Capsule included 802.11a/b/g/n/ac connectivity, four gigabit ethernet ports, with one of these being for cable modem or DSL modem, and the remaining ones being for local network connectivity. The only difference between the latest AirPort Extreme and the Time Capsule are that the Time Capsule included an enterprise-grade hard drive for using Time Machine backup.
Even though they discontinued the AirPort line, the devices themselves continue to function. For many, their Time Capsule devices have begun failing due to the internal hard drive failing.
I have owned an AirPort Express since 2007 when I needed to have a wireless network for my computers. In 2009 or early 2010 I purchased an AirPort Extreme (5th Generation) model to put into the house I moved into. I used the combination of the AirPort Express and the AirPort Extreme 5th generation until 2013 when Apple introduced the 6th Generation AirPort Extreme, which included 802.11ac radios. At that point I took the AirPort Express out of service and put the 6th Generation AirPort Extreme in its place. This set up has served me well for 8 years, but last week I took my AirPort Extremes out of service and replaced them with a single access point and router.
The reason I decided to swap out the AirPort Extremes is because I was having an issue with my MacBook Pro from work while attending a webinar. The issue was not limited to just the MacBook Pro.Restarting the Mac did not fix the issue, nor did restarting the AirPort Extreme itself. Given that the AirPort is acting up I decided it might be time to looking into alternatives.
The idea of replacing my AirPort Extremes is not actually a spur of the moment thing, it is something I have been contemplating for quite a while. The biggest reason for switching, outside of thinking the AirPort might be going flaky, is the fact that there are no new AirPort Extremes devices being released; thus meaning that the AirPorts will not be receiving any new features. Furthermore, the wireless industry has moved pretty far in the last few years.
Combining the advances of wireless technologies and the fact that Apple is not introducing new AirPort Products, I replaced replaced both of the AirPort Extremes with a single Eero 6. (Affiliate link)
What I Was Looking For
The reason I went with the Eero is for a number of reasons. First, I wanted a product that would support the latest version of Wi-Fi, 802.11ax, commonly called Wi-Fi 6. I wanted this because I do not upgrade my network equipment that often, and having the latest standards is needed. Likewise, any device that I would purchase would need to support the latest wireless security protocol, Wi-Fi Protected Access 3, or WPA3.
Secondly, I want to be able to manage them similar to the AirPorts, meaning through an app. Many wireless routers provide manage through a web browser, and this does indeed work. However, that does provide its own The last reason I went with that is the cost. The retail price of the Eero 6 is $129, but when I purchased it was on sale.
Regarding administering my router, and network, via an app, it is not that I cannot handle advanced configuration through a web browser, or even via command-line, because I can. In fact more than 15 years ago, which seems like a lifetime ago now, I was actually CCNA certified, and even though I did not renew my CCNA certification when it came up for renewal in 2009, I still remember a lot of the things I learned during that time, a bit of which will be covered later.
For now, let us look at the Eero 6.
The Eero line of products are a set of networking devices that will provide an easy to setup and easy to use system for monitoring and managing all of the devices on your network. The Eero is designed so that anyone can confidently manage their entire network. There are many who may not think that they are not capable of managing a network, But with the Eero absolutely anybody can do so. When I say "anybody", I truly mean anybody. Even from the most novice user all the way to the most advanced networking expert. Every single one can handle managing an Eero network.
This post is designed to help walk you through setting up and managing your Eero system. Along with this, I will show you a number of features that the Eero networking system has to offer. Some of these features include:
- IP address management.
- Looking at Device Information.
- Viewing device activity.
- Configuring and managing Eero Secure
The Eero system comes with a number of standard features that you get for free. This includes the ability to add and remove devices, block unknown devices, and manage the security of devices and your Eero network. Before we start diving into each of the different sections, let us look at how to setup your Eero.
Setting Up an Eero 6
The Eero 6 has three items in the box. These are the Eero itself, the accompanying power supply, and an ethernet cable. Setup is quite simple. You perform the following steps:
- Download the Eero app.
- Create an Eero account.
- Place the Eero where it will go.
- Plug in the Eero power supply.
- Connect the ethernet cable to your cable modem, or DSL modem.
- Open the Eero app to begin the setup.
Once you have created your Eero account, you will then create your wireless network. If you have an existing Wireless network you can simply use that wireless network name (SSID) and password. When you do this, most, if not all, of your devices should automatically reconnect. Once the Eero system is setup and configured, if a device does not work you may have to restart the device, or at least turn off the wireless to the device, and then re-enable it.
When I setup my Eero I setup a whole new Network SSID. I could have simply re-used the same network name that I had before. However, I had two AirPort extremes and a total of eight different networks. Four that worked with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac), one at 2.4GHz and one at 5GHz, with their corresponding "Guest" networks and another four networks that were Wi-Fi 4 (802.11a/b/g/n), again one at 2.4GHz and another at 5GHz, with their corresponding "Guest" networks. All of this has been cut in half. The primary network (running at 2.4GHz and another at 5GHz) and the guest networks (one running at 2.4GHz and another at 5GHz). Besides cutting it in half, I wanted to use an entirely different network name than the ones I had been using.
One thing I discovered while reconnecting all of my devices is that you do not necessarily realize how many different devices you may have on your network until you start moving them from one network to another. As an example after I moved everything over it turned out I had over 50 different IP addresses active on my network. I knew that I had a lot of devices, but was not sure of the total number of devices that I actually had.
Some of these devices include more than one IP address, like my iMac and Mac mini, since they use both wireless and wired connections. One other thing I did find out while reconnecting everything is that not all of my devices would work. Specifically, I found five devices that were not compatible.
The number of devices that I have found, thus far, that are not compatible is five. I suspect that there might be a few more. I suspect this because there are some older devices, like my Wii U, Wii, and Playstation 3 that I have not re-connected.
Of the five known devices, four of these are iPhones, and the final one is my HP Printer. The four iPhone are original iPhone, the iPhone 3G, an iPhone 5 running iOS 10, and an iPhone 5S that is on iOS 11. In some ways, the original iPhone and iPhone 3G not being able to connect makes complete sense. I was a bit baffled as to why the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s would not connect. However, I do have a 6th Generation iPod touch that is on iOS 12.5.5, and that connects without any issues.
I opted not to do a deep dive into what changed between iOS 11 and iOS 12 that could be the reason why the older devices would not connect. It is not that I am not interested, but it is not a pressing issue. The Eero has the option of performing some suggested troubleshooting steps. However, those steps did not fix it.
Overall, this is not really a problem because these devices are not ones that I use on a regular basis and are only used for testing. Even though the devices will not connect to my Eero network, there is a work around. In order to have these devices work when I need them to, I will keep one of the old AirPort Extremes around and just plug it in when I need to connect them to the network. All of my other devices were able to connect without a problem.
Even though most everything connected via wireless, there is one problem that I experienced, and that was the items that require a wired connection.
The Eero 6 only has two ports on the device. One for local network connections and another for connecting to your cable or DSL modem. This is half of the total number of ports available on any of the AirPort Extremes. The AirPort Extremes have four ethernet ports, one for connecting to the cable or DSL modem, and three for local network connections.
I have a Phllips Hue Bridge, which requires a physical connection, so that would take up the only physical connection on the Eero. If someone only had a Phillips Hue Bridge, a single physical connection might suffice. I am not one of these people though.
I being the nerd that I am need more than a single wired connection. I need more than one physical connection not only because I am a nerd, but I prefer to have as many devices physically connected as I can. To support this, I also need more physical connections because I have two ethernet connections that are coming from rooms in my house.
In order to be able to connect all these ports, I need a physical switch. To further show how much of a nerd I am, I already had an 8 port switch that I was using to connect one room to the old AirPort Extreme downstairs. So, I moved that 8 port switch downstairs, but I still needed another switch. that was there. To replace the switch that I used downstairs, I bought the 5-port version of the same 8-port switch I had. Specifically, I got the TP-Link TL-SG105. The reason I got the 5-port is because I do not need 8 ports. This is a similar model to the 8 port switch I already had.
Hence, if you know you are going to need more than a single wired connection, you may want to get an external 5 port, or 8 port, switch before setting up your Eero. Next we will cover the IP addressing scheme used by the Eero, but before we do that, let us take a deep dive into network and subnets. If you do not want to read the extra nerdy stuff, feel free to skip to the "IP address on Eero" section.
A Deep Dive into Networking
When it comes to computers everything is ultimately expressed using binary, therefore any bit is either a zero or a one. In most instances you do not need to know how something is expressed in binary, however in the case of networking knowing how binary works in conjunction with networking.
It is possible that you are aware of how Internet Protocol Version 4, or IPv4, address work, but let us cover that in case you are not aware. IPv4 addresses consist of "four octets", or four group of 8 bits, for a maximum of 32 bits. 32 bits means that you can have a total of 4,294,967,296 actual IP addresses. When IPv4 was first developed 4 billion addresses seemed like they would never run out, but, they are starting to run out.
The entire range of IP addresses goes from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255. An IP address is broken down into two groups, a "network" group and a "machine" portion. Which part is the network or the machine is deterred by the subnet mask. A subnet mask is expressed in a similar format of four octets. The subnet mask can have the exact same range of 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255. It is probably best to show an example of how an IP address and subnet mask work together.
A subnet mask has the same four octets. Also like IP address a subnet mask octet can range from 0 to 255, or 8 bits. When calculating a subnet mask you will need to take 2 and raise it to the bits position, but only if the bit is set to 1. If it is set to 0, then you do not add it. The table below shows the position of the bit and its corresponding value.
Position (2^n) 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Value if 1 128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1
As an example, if we take the subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 and convert it to binary, it would be 11111111.11111111.11111111.00000000. All of the bits are set to 1 for the 255’s, the last octet of the subnet mask is all zeroes. Let us look at two more examples, 252 and 240.
If we have a subnet mask of 255.255.252.0, this would be represented in binary as 11111111.11111111.11111100.00000000. The first two octets are the same, all ones, or 255. What is different is the third octet, so let us look at the third octet.
Position (2^n) 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Value if 1 128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1 252 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0
If you add all of these up you will get 252, which means that 252 expressed in binary would be 11111100.. Let us look at another example 240. We can use the same technique to calculate 240.
Position (2^n) 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Value if 1 128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1 240 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0
240 in binary would be 11110000. Therefore, if you had a subnet mask of 255.255.240.0, you would have 11111111.11111111.11110000.00000000. It is not often that you will actually need to use binary to calculate a subnet mask, instead you can rely on the standard values as follows:
There are a number of different networks that are defined within the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Request for Comments 1918 (RFC). This RFC is the ones that defines the networks that are considered non-routable, or private. These IP address range are 10.0.0.0 to 10.255.255.255, 172.16.0.0 to 172.31.255.255, and 192.168.0.0 to 192.168.255.255. Which IP address range you should choose depends on the number of machines that you need on a network.
It is quite common for companies to use the 10, or 172 IP address range. For most home routers will typically use 192.168.0.0 or 192.168.1.0 for their IP address range. When they use either of these IP address ranges, the subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 is used. This subnet mask means that there are 256 possible addresses, 0 to 255. The first address, 0.0, is reserved as the network address and the last address, 0.255 is reserved as the broadcast address. This means that any subnet will have two fewer usable addresses than the total number of IP addresses available in the network, and if your network has a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0, that means you can have up to 254 potential devices.
There are two different ways of representing a subnet mask. One is with the full subnet mask, like 255.255.255.0. The other is the Common Internet Domain Routing (CIDR), also known as the "slash", version, where 255.255.255.0 is the same as a "/24". The number following the slash is the number of bits for the network portion of the address, leaving the remaining portion for the machine. When you calculate a subnet mask, the further left the machine portion is, the larger the number of addresses. If the network consists of 24 bits, that means 8 bits can be possible for machines. Likewise, if you have a 16 bit network portion, then there is also a 16 bits for machines.
Here is a table that how many addresses are on each subnet mask. The table contains the full subnet mask, the CIDR notion, and the number of devices.
Subnet Mask CIDR Number of Devices 255.255.255.255 /32 1 255.255.255.252 /30 4 255.255.255.248 /29 8 255.255.255.240 /28 16 255.255.255.224 /27 32 255.255.255.192 /26 64 255.255.255.128 /25 128 255.255.255.0 /24 256 255.255.254.0 /23 512 255.255.252.0 /22 1024 255.255.248.0 /21 2058 255.255.240.0 /20 4096 255.255.224.0 /19 8192 255.255.192.0 /18 16384 255.255.128.0 /17 32768 255.255.0.0 /16 65536
And it continues on in the same pattern. As the network portion gets smaller and the machine portion gets larger. Much like IP addresses, there are actually two reserved subnet masks. These are 0.0.0.0, or /0, and 255.255.255.255, or /32. 0.0.0.0 is meant as universal default route, or the default route for all traffic that is destined to be outside of the current network. Similarly, 255.255.255.255, or /32, means a single IP address. The /32 subnet mask is one that you are more likely to encounter due to it being a simple way of indicating a single IP address. There are a large number of packages that can use the CIDR notation. A couple of examples are Nginx and iptables both use the /32 to indicate a single IP address, as well as other CIDR notation to indicate other network ranges.
IPv4 address are not the only type of IP address available. There is another standard, IPv6. IPv6 works on the same general principles, just on a much larger scale. Instead of being limited to 32 total bits for an address, IPv6 has 128 bits. At first glance you might think that four times the number of bits means that there are four times as many addresses. In fact, there are significantly more IPv6 addresses available, as compared to IPv4 addresses. In fact there are 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 unique addresses, or 340 trillion trillion trillion addresses. With this many addresses, this should be able to last for quite a long while. I will not espouse that it is an infinite number of addresses, because who knows what the future holds. Suffice to say that this number of addresses should last us for quite a while.
Now that we have gone over IP addresses and subnet masks, let us look at how Eero handles its IP addresses.
IP Addresses on Eero
In case you skipped the last section, it was mentioned that most wireless routers use the IP address of 192.168.0.0, with a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0. This combination results in up to 254 usable ip addresses. Twenty years ago when home networks were becoming more common the idea of having 254 devices seemed like quite a bit. Today though limiting a network to 254 IP addresses is probably not the best idea.
The Eero system takes this into consideration and does something a bit different, as compared to other wireless router manufacturers. Instead of using 192.168.0.0 or 192.168.1.0, the Eero system uses 192.168.4.0, with a subnet mask of 255.255.252.0, or a /22. This means that you can have up to 1024 IP addresses, of which 1022 are usable. 192.168.4.0 is for the network address, and the broadcast address is 192.168.8.255. This results in the usable address range going from 192.168.4.1 to 192.168.8.254. The Eero itself needs an IP address, some network administrators use the last IP address as the default gateway, but Eero chooses to use 192.168.4.1 as the gateway address.
At first you may wonder why Eero would set up a network with 1024 possible ip addresses. The answer is quite simple, "Smart" devices. In today's modern technological society, it is quite feasible that someone would have 254 distinct devices connected to their network. These devices could be things like laptops, desktops, smart tvs, smart watches, smart lights, door bells, smoke alarms, humidifiers, lights, washers, dryers, refrigerators, and many other items. Therefore, a single network could easily have 254 devices.
So, in order to minimize the problems that users will encounter, as well as minimize support calls, Eero has opted to go with allowing 1022 usable IP addresses. While this may not work for absolutely everyone, for 99.999% of users 1022 usable addresses should be enough.
While the address range of 192.168.4.0 to 192.168.8.255 is the default, you do have the option of changing the IP address range and subnet mask. Unless you know that you will need more than 1022 usable IP addresses, you do not need to change it. Even though I could have changed the default, I opted not to change it. Since we have the IP address scheming covered let us turn to managing your Eero network.
Managing your Eero Network
All management of your Eero network is done through the Eero app. You can manage it on either an iPhone, iPod, or iPad, or any Android device. When you open the Eero App, you have four tabs at the bottom of the screen. These are "Home", "Activity", "Discover", and "Settings". Each of these tabs has its own usage. Let us go through each of them.
The "Home" tab is the tab that you are likely to use most often. That is because it is where you can see all of the devices that are connected to your Eero network. You can tap on any one of them and see some information about the device. This information includes:
- The assigned profile
- The wireless Connection
- The Eero the device is connected to
- The wireless protocol in use
- Last activity, which could be the current usage or last usage date and time
- Type of device
- Device manufacturer
- The device's hostname
- The IP address for the device
- The hardware MAC address
There are three of these options that can provide even further information. These are Profile, Type, and IP address. We will dive into Profiles in a bit. For now, let us look at device type and IP address.
For each device that is connected to your Eero system you can assign the type of device it is. There are a large number of types in four categories. The entire list, broken down by group, includes:
Computer & Personal
- Hard Drive
- Network Equipment
- Cable Box
- Game Console
- Media Streamer
- Air Conditioner
- Air Purifier
- Alarm System
- Coffee Maker
- Digital Assistant
- Door Bell
- Door Lock
- Exercise Bike
- Garage Door
- Pet Devices
- Security Camera
- Smoke Detector
The type that you assign does not have any actual bearing on the device itself. Each type has its own icon so you can easily identify the type of device with a glance. There is one specific type that needs to be covered, and that is a special type called "Private".
"Private" Device Type
Each device has a hard coded hardware address assigned to it. This is the Machine Access Code address, or MAC address. This address is burned into the wireless or bluetooth chip and cannot be changed. Since this address never changes it has become a mechanism used by some entities to be able to track devices both over the internet and between physical locations. In order to mitigate this type of tracking Apple introduced a new feature of a "Private" MAC address in iOS 14.
When "Private Address" is enabled on a Wi-Fi connection, a random MAC address will be assigned to the device. That Private address will be remembered for that particular network. That way, that network will be able to identify you, but it will not actually be your real MAC address. When a device with iOS 14, iPadOS 14, or watchOS 14, or later, connects it will have Private address enabled by default. You can disable it if needed.
When a device with a private address connects to an Eero network, the type will be assigned "Private". The host name for the device may still be provided, but it’s MAC address will be masked.
Now that we have covered the "Type" item, let us look at the "IP address" item.
No matter what type of network, each device needs to be able to communicate with other devices, or at bare minimum with the internet. This is done through an IP address. The Eero system is the device that handles assigning IP addresses. You can read more in-depth information about IP addresses in the "Deep Dive into Networks" section of this post.
Many modern devices can support both IPv4 and IPv6. If a device supports only one or the other, it will be shown in the IP address section. Each type of IP address has its own section. While most devices will only have a single IPv4 address, it is possible that you will see a device with more than one IPv6 address. There can usually be up to three IPv6 addresses per device.
Each of the addresses for the particular device will be listed and grouped by the type of IP address. The IP address item is only used to view the particular IP address. This is useful if you need to connect to a specific device, say a printer, or if you want to connect to another device for some reason. If you need to change an IP address, or set an IP to be static, that is possible to do. The procedure for doing so will be covered later in the "Settings" section.
Now that the IP address has been covered, let us look at another item under each device, called Activity.
The Eero 6 is capable of monitoring and reporting on each device that it is connected to it, regardless of whether it is wireless or wired. One of the items that is logged is the activity for the device. Specifically, the Eero tracks the amount of data that is uploaded and downloaded for each device and because of this tracking you are able to view data for a specific device by day, week, or month.
When you view the activity by day you will get a breakdown of the activity for the device by hour for the specific day. You can look at any of the previous 99 days with the same layout. Each hour will have two pieces of data, the amount of data uploaded as well as the amount of data download for each hour. The download will be pink and the upload will be in blue. The day with the most transmitted data should be completely full, with other days being proportional to the day with the highest amount of data.
Likewise, the upload and download should be proportional to each other. What this means is that if there was three times as much data downloaded for a device, as compared to the amount uploaded, the pink section should be three times as large as the blue section.
Similarly, when you view a device’s activity by week, you will see each day of the week in a chart that will display the total amount of data uploaded and downloaded, with the same colors, blue for upload and pink for download. The maximum number of weeks that you can go back is 17, or 119 days.
The monthly view is just like the others, except that you will see all of days in a single view. You can go back up to 4 months, or just about 120 days. As is the case with the other views, the download and upload lengths will be relative to the day with the highest download and upload amounts. You can tap on any single day to see the specific data for that day.
No matter which time period you select, directly below the charts views there will be a section called "Data Usage Categories". As the name suggests this will show the total data used for the selected time period. This will show both the Downloaded amounts as well as the Uploaded amounts.
That covers everything there is to cover in the "Home" section, at least for now. Next, let us look at the next tab, called "Activity".
The Activity tab, is quite aptly named. The Activity tab will allow you to get an overall view of the activity that has occurred on your network. When you load up the Activity tab you will potentially see three sections. These sections are:
- Privacy & Security
For now, let us look at the "Internet" section. There are four different pieces of information. These are:
- Fastest Download
- Fastest Upload
- Downloaded Data
- Uploaded Data
Fastest Upload/Fastest Download
Both of these items take you to the same screen, the Speed Test screen. Here you can see the fastest upload and fastest download speeds that have occurred during the current week. You can see each of the speed tests that have been run and their corresponding results. Also on this screen is the ability to run a speed test, by simply tapping on the "Run Speed Test" button.
Much like the Upload/Download items, the other two items "Downloaded Data" and "Uploaded Data" will bring you to the same screen. This screen will show you a screen similar to screen where you can see an individual device’s uploaded and downloaded data. However, instead of just seeing a single device’s statistics, you can see the total usage data, as well as a list of all of the devices. You can tap on any of the individual devices and get the usage data for that specific device.
The last of devices will be shown in descending order, starting with the device that had the highest usage percentage and proceeding to the lowest percentage.
There is something to note about the totals. The amount of data displayed is not necessarily the amount of data that has been downloaded or uploaded to the internet. Instead, the data is for anything that has been transferred through the Eero system. That means that the total amount will include data that is transferred between devices, even if they are on the same network.
Here are a couple of data that is been transferred between devices.
In the picture above you will see that 82 Gigabytes of data was uploaded and 630 Megabytes of data was downloaded from the internet. This data was a bunch of updates for games, and included the downloading of Halo Infinite. Here is another image, this one of my server.
In the picture above you will see that 23GB of data was uploaded and 4.5GB of data was downloaded to my server. My server has all of my ripped media on it. I have previously ripped all 11 seasons of M*A*S*H and I have been re-watching them. Besides this, some of the data is also ripped DVDs and Blu-rays that I have been watching. So, there is a significant amount of data uploaded from my server and that is in the total amount for the selected time period.
Next, let us move to the security section.
The Security section has two items, "Scans", and "Threat Blocks". The "Scans" feature will scan every request made by your devices. There data shown is the total number of scans that have occurred on a per-device basis, for the selected time frame.
The "Threat Blocks" section will show you the number of Phishing, Malware, and Botnet attempts, on a per-device basis. When you select a device you will get a breakdown of each of three categories, as shown in the photo below.
Let us look at the last section, "Privacy & Safety".
Privacy & Safety
The Privacy & Safety section has one item that you can investigate, the "Ad Block" item. This item will provide you a count for the number of blocked ads that hav occurred for your entire network, with the ability to dive down into a particular device. As is the case with the other activity items, you can look at each individual device and see the number of blocked ads on a device.
As a note, you may not see the "Security" and "Privacy & Safety" sections if you do not have a subscription to "Eero Secure". Let us check out those features next.
Eero Secure is a subscription service that will provide you with extra options for providing security to your Eero network. There are two different subscriptions, "Eero Secure" and "Eero Secure+". Eero Secure has the following features:
- Advanced Security
- Content Filtering
- Ad Blocking
- Activity Insights
- Weekly Activity Reports
- VIP Support.
Eero Secure+ has all of the same features as well as four additional ones. The additional features are:
- 1Password subscription
- Encrypt.me VPN access
- Malwarebytes Anti-virus
- Dynamic DNS, used for remote access
These are not free. Eero secure is $2.99 a month, or $29.99 per year. Eero Secure+ is $9.99 per month or $99.00 per year. When you first setup an Eero account for the first time, you will get a 30 day trial of Eero Secure. Therefore you can test out the content filter, ad blocking, threat protection, and use the reporting features completely for free during the trial.
You might be wondering why you can only get a trial of the Eero secure features and not the Eero Secure+ features. That’s quite simple, the Eero Secure features are all handled by Eero. They dod not rely on third-parties to be able to set up and configure.
Possible Side Effects of Enabling Eero Secure
There are some possible side effects for enabling Eero Secure. Most notably that all of your traffic will be intercepted by the Eero. This is because the blocking of websites occurs at the Eero level and therefore
In many cases this will not be a problem, however, this does mean that you may see a privacy warning when viewing your Wi-Fi connection on your iOS device. The warning states:
This network is blocking encrypted DNS traffic.
The names of websites and other servers your device accesses on this network may be monitored and recorded by other devices on this network.
Again, in most situations this is not a problem and you may prefer to make the trade off of not having Encrypted DNS and instead have the Eero secure features enabled.
Will I subscribe to Eero Secure?
Since I am still on my free trial, I do not know if I will pay for the Eero Secure subscription or not. The blocking and activity reports are nice to have, but I do not know if I like the fact that the Eero intercepts all of my DNS traffic, meaning that Encrypted DNS, also known as DNS Over HTTP, or DOH, will not be available on my network if I enable Eero Secure.
If I do end up paying for Eero Secure, it will likely be the less expensive Eero Secure subscription and not the the Eero Secure+ plan. The reason for this is because I do not need any of the features that are being offered with the advanced security features.
Everything with the Activity tab has been covered. This means that we can move on and take a look at the Discover Tab.
The Discover tab within the Eero app is used to manage certain aspects of your Eero system. The Discover tab has four items, these items are:
- Eero Secure
- Amazon Connected Home
- Apple HomeKit
- Eero Labs
The "Eero Secure" item will provide access to the Eero Secure items in the "Activity" tab, as well as the Eero Secure+ features. Here you can also enable or disable Advanced Security and set the Ad Blocking preferences. For Ad blocking you can enable it for the entire network, or specific profiles. You can also select your Parental controls, which entrails Content Filters and Blocked apps. The last item you can manage is the list of Blocked Sites as well as Allowed Sites.
The Amazon Connected Home item will allow you to enable the Alexa Voice assistant as well as Frustration-Free Setup. By default these are off. There is a third option, "Smart Home Hub", this is enabled by default and cannot be disabled. This is enabled because the Eero 6 can support Zigbee devices and in order to do so, the Smart Hub feature needs to be enabled. The "Frustration-Free Setup" option is a way of being able to store your Eero credentials so that if you setup an Amazon "Human device" it will automatically be configured and instantly connect to your Eero network after it is powered up.
The "Apple HomeKit" item will allow you to enable HomeKit Security with a specific Eero device. This will allow you to manage HomeKit settings for your smart devices directly from within the Home app
The "Eero Labs" feature is the place where you can enable beta features. As of this writing there are only two options, "Optimize for Conferencing and Gaming" and "WPA3". These features are not enabled by default, but you can enable them by tapping on the toggle button. For me, I have enabled WPA3 but not Cloud Conferencing and Gaming.
The last tab is the "Settings" tab. The Settings tab is where you go to make changes to your Eero account, Wi-Fi network name, Wi-Fi password, enable or disable the Guest network, perform software updates, manage notifications, and perform troubleshooting.
Under the "Account Settings" item you can manage your email subscription information to Eero products and updates, as well as seeing your Eero Secure subscription information.
If you need to modify the wireless network name or the password, or the Guest Network name or password this can be done by tapping on the appropriate field.
The "Network" item is where you can view and manage the IP address for your internet service provider. Here you can also view the IP address for your Gateway Eero device, meaning the one that connects to your internet service provider.
Under the "Network Services" section, within the Network item is where you can configure your Eero assigns IP addresses, or is in Bridge mode. By default it assigns IP addresses, but if you need another device to do so, then you can turn off DHCP on your Eero network. Also within this section you can set custom Domain Name System, or DNS, servers if you so choose. If you do not configure a set of custom DNS servers, your ISP's DNS servers will be used.
There is one item to focus on and that is within the "Network" section. That item is "Reservations & Port Forwarding".
Reservations & Port Forwarding
As mentioned earlier, each device that connects to your network requires its own IP address. By default the Eero will use the next available IP address to assign to the device. In most instances, the automatically assigned IP address will be fine, particularly for devices like phones and tablets. However, there may be instances when you may want to select the IP address that will be used. This can be done by performing the following steps:
- Open the Eero app.
- Tap on the "Settings" tab.
- Tap on "Network Settings".
- Tap on "Reservations & Port Forwarding".
Here the list of existing devices and their reservations will be shown. When you first setup your Eero, there should not be any reservations. You can add a reservation by performing the following steps:
- Tap on the "Add a reservation" button. The devices without a reservation will be shown.
- Locate the device you want to add a reservation for.
- Tap on the item to bring up its current configuration.
- If desired, modify the Nickname for the device.
- If desired, modify the assigned IP address.
- If necessary, modify the MAC address.
- Tap on the "Save" button to save the configuration.
There is one thing to note, if you modify the existing IP address and there is another device with the same IP address, it is possible that the newly configured device will not work properly until one of the devices are restarted so that it obtains a different IP address. This is because each device must have its own unique IP address.
As mentioned above, you do have the ability to customize the DNS servers that your network will use. There is one thing to note about this. You will not be able to modify the DNS servers unless all Eero Secure features are disabled. To me, this is a bit confusing considering that DNS should not be affected by any of the Eero security features, but that is how the Eero system is configured and setup.
Now that we have finished the vast majority of items within the Eero app, there are two last items that need to be covered. These are "Eero and HomeKit" and "Profiles". Let us start with Eero and HomeKit.
Eero and HomeKit
With iOS 13.2 Apple introduced a new feature called "HomeKit Secure Router". HomeKit Secure Router is a way of being able to add security to your HomeKit devices. HomeKit Secure Router cannot be enabled without a supported router. The Eero is one of those supported devices.
A HomeKit Secure Router will allow you to individually configure any of your individual HomeKit devices and set one of three options. These options are:
- Restrict to Home
- No Restriction
By default everything is set to "Automatic", which will automatically decide what should be allowed or prohibited, in terms of connections to external services. For the more popular smart devices there are a known set of addresses and domains that are contacted. Therefore, the "Automatic" setting will be kept up to date as data changes.
The management for this is not done in the Eero app, instead this is done in Apple’s Home app. Before you can manage the network access for your HomeKit devices in the Home app, you do need to enable HomeKit support in the Eero app. This is accomplished by performing these steps:
- Open the Eero app.
- Tap on the "Discover" tab item.
- Tap on the "Apple HomeKit" button.
- Tap on the "Enable HomeKit" button.
The process will take a couple of minutes, but once it is enabled you can then manage your HomeKit Smart devices in the Home app. Where this information is located is not intuitive. To adjust your Smart devices settings use these steps:
- Open the Home app.
- Tap on the House icon in the upper left corner.
- Tap on "Home Settings".
- Tap on "Wi-Fi Network & Routers".
Here you can now manage any of your HomeKit smart devices by tapping on any of them and selecting the type of security you want to use. It should be noted that not every smart device is supported in the HomeKit Secure Router configuration. For my network there are only four items. These are:
- Garage Door Opener
- Philips Hue Bridge
- Temperature Sensor
The devices that you will have obviously differ, but you can assign any of the three roles for your device. There is an item that has been previously mentioned, but it has not yet been discussed, that topic is Profiles.
Profiles are a way of being able to create a set of content filters, blocked apps, and blocked and allowed sites that fit your particular needs. Once a profile is created, it can then be applied to a set of devices. Once a profile is applied to a device, any of the settings defined within the profile will be applied.
There are a number of aspects to cover regarding profiles. The items that we will cover include:
- Parts of a profile
- Creating a profile.
- Applying a profile to a device.
- Deleting a profile.
Each of these will be covered in the order stated above beginning with the parts of a profile.
Parts of a Profile
There are a number of different parts that make up an Eero profile. These are two major parts, Name and Content Filters.
A Content Filter contains:
- A list of Blocked Apps
- A list of Blocked and Allowed Sites
With each of these you can configure the list of apps that you want to block, as well as the list of sites that you want to either explicitly block or allow.
- Safe Search
- YouTube Restricted
- Adult Content
- Illegal or Criminal Content
- Violent Content
- Chat and Messaging
- Social Media
Let us look at how to add a new profile.
Creating a Profile
Creating a profile is a pretty straightforward task. You can create a profile by performing the following steps:
- Open the Eero app.
- Tap on the "+" button in the upper right corner. A popup will appear.
- Tap on "Add a Profile".
- Enter in the name for the Profile.
- Optionally, select the devices to apply the profile to. This can be done later.
- Tap the "Done" button to create the Profile.
Once the profile is created, you can add a "Scheduled Pause", which will allow you to select the time when the profile should go into effect. This is very useful for limiting when kids are able to use their devices. When you configure a Scheduled Pause, you can choose a schedule name, start time, end time, and which days to apply the schedule. If needed, you can add additional schedules.
Next, you can apply a Content Filter. An Eero has four profile templates that you can choose from. These templates are:
- Pre-K (0 - 5 years)
- Pre-Teen (6 - 12 years)
- Teen (13 - 18 years)
Each category has a pre-defined set of restrictions enabled. As an example for the "Pre-K" template has SafeSearch enabled and YouTube is restricted. The Adult content, illegal or criminal content, violent content, chat and messaging, and social media are all blocked. Meanwhile, Games, Streaming, and Shopping are allowed.
You can select any of the templates and then tap on "Apply" and a customization screen will appear where you can modify the profile as necessary by toggling on or off category, or adding a blocked app or blocking a site. on the topic of Blocking or Adding a site, let us look at that specifically.
Blocking or Allowing Domains
There may be sites that you want to explicitly allow, like a child's school domain, or maybe even google docs. To add a blocked, or allowed, domain follow these steps:
- Open the profile that you want to customize.
- Tap on "Block & allow sites".
- Tap on "Add Blocked Site".
- Type in the domain to be blocked.
- Tap on the "Done" button in the upper right corner.
You can add as many blocked domains as you would like. In most instances the filter should be applied immediately. However, there may be times when it takes a bit for things to apply due to cache.
This covers everything needed to configure, create, and manage profiles, which will allow you to control access to sites and apps are available on which devices.
Lastly, let us look at something that I would like to see from Eero.
What I Would Like To See
I have been using my Eero system for just about a week now, and while the Eero offers a large number of features, there is one feature that is missing and one that I would like to see. That feature is a way to manage the Eero from a Mac. I used at least one of Apple’s AirPort products for more than 14 years now. One of the features of the AirPort is the AirPort utility.
The AirPort utility began life on the Mac because the AirPort product line was available well before the introduction of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Having used the AirPorts for so long, I have become quite used to managing my network from my Mac. I can understand not wanting to spend additional resources to develop a Mac app for the Eero. However, the iOS app works on both iOS as well as iPadOS. This means, that Eero would only need to enable running the iPadOS app on Mac with Apple Silicon.
The downside to enabling this feature is that the app would not necessarily look the best. However, as a user I am completely willing to make this trade off. Having the ability to manage my network is more important than the application looking the best it can. An alternative would be the ability to manage an Eero system via the web. Either approach would work for me.
The Eero 6 is a fully featured wireless router that includes many of the features that have been added as wireless standards over the past few years, including but not limited to WPA 3, Mesh Networking, and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax).
The Eero system adds some additional features that you may not see with other systems, like content filtering, ad blocking, and device-level statistics broken down by day, week, and month over the last four months. Furthermore, the Eero is a HomeKit Secure Router, which allows for integration of your router with HomeKit so you can restrict access of your Smart Devices if needed.
As for content filtering, you are able to create custom profiles that will allow you to limit what sites, apps, and which devices are going to be filtered.
In the case that you need advanced security features there are two subscription options that you can subscribe to. These are Eero Secure and Eero Secure+. With the basic Eero Secure subscription you can get activity reports, content filtering, and VIP support. The Eero Secure+ Subscription provides you with additional features like 1Password, Encrypt.me VPN, MalwareBytes Anti-Virus, and Dynamic DNS for remote access. These subscriptions are $2.99 per month or $29.99 for Eero Secure, and $9.99 per month or $99 per year for Eero Secure+.
Overall, if you are looking for a replacement for an older wireless router, the Eero may be worth looking at. Even if you think you cannot manage an Eero network, you most certainly can because the app is easy to use and if you need some assistance, Eero support should be able to help you out.