Broadband Hardware

Having problems setting up a Netgear Orbi router? This trick could help you out.

I’ve been using a Google WiFi mesh set-up for years now and it’s been a vast improvement on the single router set-up that I had before. With 3 storeys and an extension on the back of a house, along with thick Edwardian walls, WiFi coverage is tricky. Even 4 routers aren’t enough – without a dedicated backhaul channel, the further from the router you get, the bigger the delays. Download speeds are still good but Zoom is a no-go. So, even the Google solution is lacking – on last generation WiFi technology and without that backhaul channel, it was time to upgrade to something else.

After lots of research and a bargain price thanks to Amazon’s Prime Day, I bought Netgear’s Orbi solution – one router and two satellies, all running across 3 channels and on WiFi 6. Great.

Well, it was until I tried to configure it.

What’s the issue with the setup?

Setup is performed via a dedicated app.

During the process, it would get so far (often to the very end, saying that everything was setup) before saying that it could no longer communicate with the router.

I’d go back to the beginning of the set-up and would then often not even get as far as I did before. A factory reset would ensure the set-up got as far as it did the first time but it still wouldn’t connect at the very end.

What was the fix?

There were a couple of clues as to what the issue was.

First of all, I mentioned above that it would fail even earlier if you didn’t factory reset. Secondly, I noticed that during certain stages of the setup process, the app would refer to the router by the wrong name. Let me explain.

Your router comes with a default name, e.g. ORBI004. During the set-up process you get the chance to supply a replacement name – it even recommends this when replacing an existing setup with this one (i.e. using your old WiFi name, or SSID, and password, so all your existing devices will work without being reconfigured). Let’s say we called it “MyWIFI”. Initially, you tell it that the router is called ORBI004, so that the app can connect to it. Later you supply a new name. However, the app sometimes then refers to the router as “MyWIFI” and, at other times, “ORBI004”. That sounds odd, right?

And, of course, if you continued the setup after one failed attempt, it would continue with the new name – a factory reset would put it back to ORBI004 again.

So, was the app getting confused?

I performed another factory reset and ran the setup process again. This time, when prompted, I didn’t change the WiFi name or password, using the default instead. As if by magic, the setup completed successfully.

problems setting up a netgear orbi router

I was then able to change the WiFi name and password of the Netgear Orbi router within the app settings without any problems at all.

Why is this happening?

Simply put, I think some bad programming in the app means that it keeps referring back to the wrong router name by mistake.

As a developer myself, I suspect the app is storing both the default details and the current details separately. Instead of referring to the current information during the setup, it’s sometimes using the default instead.

Now, this is the case for the iOS version – I wasn’t in a position to test this on Android, and the same bug may not be present there.

How do you change the WiFi name and password in the app?

Thankfully, Netgear have made this really, really simple.

  1. On the app home screen, scroll down and click on WiFi Settings…
problems setting up a netgear orbi router
  1. On the screen that appears type in a new name and/or password…
problems setting up a netgear orbi router
  1. Press the “Save” button at the bottom of the screen and… that’s it.

How do you perform a factory reset?

On the back of the Orbi, close to the power cable, is a recessed hole, labelled “Reset”. The exact location will vary depending on the model you have.

Stick something slim enough into the hole (I used a pin) and you should feel something press down. The power light, which is near by, should go amber after a few seconds of you holding this down. Keep it there until it starts flashing amber. Now you can release. The Orbi should now fully reset itself, going to its original “fresh from the factory” settings.

This video, from Netgear, may also help…

READ NEXT: How do I prevent my Apple AirTag from getting scratched?

About the author

David Artiss

Currently working for a technology company based in San Francisco, David has worked in IT for nearly 30 years. He is a keen gamer and happily admits to being a gadget nerd too.

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