Saying “au revoir” to ASUS RT-56U because of Bonjour issues

I bought an Asus RT-N56U router a few months back to replace our old (and constantly crashing) Linksys WRT54G wireless router. I was sad to see it go, because for years the black and blue Linksys router seemed to be a staple in every home.

I chose the N56U because it was reasonably priced, has good reviews, and was on the market long enough to hopefully be past any new product growing pains. This router was supposed to be faster than my Linksys, have further reach, and run an FTP server — most of which wasn’t a concern to me. After using the router for about 1 month, I can report that the router is easy to configure, has good performance, and most importantly, has an uptime longer than 7 days.

However, since installing the new router, I haven’t been able to use Airplay or the Remote app for my Apple TV. I also noticed that I wasn’t able to print to my wireless printer from my iPhone or computers. All these services use ‘Bonjour‘ or ‘Zero Configuration‘, a protocol that lets computers and other devices discover themselves on your network. It’s a great service, that usually works flawlessly. Here’s a greatly simplified version of how this works:

1) I need to print a document from my laptop, so I go to File -> Print.

2) The computer asks all the devices on the network, “Who can print here??”

3) All the printers respond back with their name and IP address.

4) I select the printer I want to use, and hit Print.

To troubleshoot I launched Bonjour Browser on my laptop to see if they were registering with the router. They were registering fine, but were constantly dropping off from the Bonjour service, and adding themselves back in. This explained why I once saw the Apple TV icon available in my remote, and after I quickly jammed my thumb into the icon, the connection to Apple TV timed out, and the icon was never to be seen again.

I tried changing some settings in the N56U, to see if I could fix this, including:

  • disabling the 5GHZ network, and putting all connections onto 2.4GHZ (This is a dual band modem, and can simultaneously support both networks at the same time)
  • enabling multi-cast support
  • disabling  a ‘multi-cast’ storm prevention setting
  • enabling b/g protection for legacy routers
  • disabling ‘AI radar’, a proprietary solution to increase the range of the router

Unfortunately, none of these worked. Some of these changes were educated guesses (for example, zero config uses multicast to find devices), and some of the changes were just guesses. After doing some further Googling, I found other reviews from users unable to get Bonjour to work reliably either.

Yes the router has great throughput, but if my devices can’t connect to each other, what’s the point?

Unfortunately, the ASUS RT-N56U is going to the junk box after only 1 month. Luckily I was able to buy a used 5 year old AirPort router that seems to work just fine. It doesn’t reboot weekly, it’s pretty fast, and supports network standards.

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One thought on “Saying “au revoir” to ASUS RT-56U because of Bonjour issues

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