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Replacing My Apple AirPort Extreme Routers

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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.

6th Generation AirPort Extreme sitting on top of a 5th Generation AirPort Extreme

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.

Eero 6

Eero 6 box with Eero 6 in it.

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:

  1. Download the Eero app.
  2. Create an Eero account.
  3. Place the Eero where it will go.
  4. Plug in the Eero power supply.
  5. Connect the ethernet cable to your cable modem, or DSL modem.
  6. 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.

Incompatible Devices

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. 

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