Should I use Airport Extreme as router and NAS connection?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by DutchguyJoost, May 11, 2014.

  1. DutchguyJoost macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2014
    #1
    I just bought an Airport Extreme router, that I want to connect to my Zyxel P-2812HNU-F1 modem/router to replace my wifi network. Currently, my Zyxel modem/router provides internet access through wifi and ethernet cables.

    I am going to buy a Synology NAS to use for file sharing and for time machine backups of my Mac Book Pro.

    Should I connect the NAS and/or the other ethernet cables for wired internet access to my Zyxel modem/router and only use the Airport Extreme for wifi (I believe that's called bridge mode?) or should I switch off (I would not know how exactly) the router function of my Zyxel (and only keep the modem function) and use the AE as my router instead?

    Thank you so much for helping me - a networking newbie - out!
     
  2. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #2
    It will work either way. Most choose to disable the modem's router function and use the AEXT instead because of better performance. Dunno how well the Zytel router performs, however.

    I would chose a TimeCapsule instead of the AEXT to time machine backup, or plug a USB drive into the AEXT instead of using the Synology. If you want to use the Synology for Macbook Pro backups, use something like Carbon Copy Cloner instead of Time Capsule. Apple has not approved synology's NAS for time machine use, although many here use it that way.
     
  3. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    Mar 26, 2013
    Location:
    Elkton, Maryland
    #3
    Most modem/router combos are totally horrendous. There are a few exceptions, but as a general statement, any router you buy will likely exceed the router inside of your modem.

    If this is a ISP supplied device (meaning, your Internet company gave you this for use in your home) then give them a call, and they can set it to Bridge Mode for you. Then reset the AirPort Extreme and let it do its magic and set it up.

    Once you get the NAS, it should be plugged into one of the LAN ports on the back of the Extreme. They are all Gigabit, so it doesn't matter which one.
     
  4. DutchguyJoost thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2014
    #4
    Thanks for the tip! I will check CCC out.

    I installed the AE yesterday and set up wifi, which works perfectly. The AE is in bridge mode now (by default). What I don't quite understand: in this configuration (where my modem/router is still the router and providing DHCP and where the AE is in bridge mode), should I plug the ethernet cables of my NAS/wired computer/SONOS sound system etc. into the modem/router or into the AE? Or will both do? I think I may not fully understand what DHCP mode does and what a bridge does exactly.
     
  5. troy14 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Location:
    Las Vegas (Summerlin), NV
    #5
    You would want to plug your NAS into the Airport Extreme since they are gigabit ports, chances are your modem/router combo ports are not gigabit. I would say your SONOS etc. do not matter, everything will be on the same network. If it needs to be speedy (as in a NAS) make sure it's connected to the airport extreme.

    I would recommend getting an external hard drive and plugging it into the airport extreme for the time machine backups. Using it over a NAS is NOT supported and eventually you will run into problems. Since the purpose is to backup, having problems is not ideal.

    Good luck
     
  6. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    Mar 26, 2013
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    Elkton, Maryland
    #6
    You want the modem to be in Bridge Mode. Provided that this is ISP provided equipment, a simple phone call will be able to get it fixed. Then just reset the AirPort and set it back up and all things will be fine.

    You definitely want everything attached to the AirPort. Get a good quality Gigabit switch if you need more ports and remember to use at least Cat 5e cables. It is usually stamped along the sides of the cables in black lettering.
     
  7. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

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    Jan 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hawaii, USA
    #7
    In essence, the modes specify how the device handles the internet connection. In DHCP mode the Airport Extreme will handle the communication with your ISP in order to hold your IP address and obtain DNS server addresses. In bridge mode the Airport Extreme doesn't perform those functions, and instead obtains that information from another device on the network (usually the modem/router device) and acts as more of a dumb relay, or a "bridge to the primary device." Alternately, if you put your modem/router into bridge mode then it essentially disables the router aspects and the device becomes a modem for the Airport Extreme to utilize.

    The reason why people prefer to switch their modem/routers over to bridge mode instead of the Airport Extreme has to do with the router aspects of the devices. Cheaper routers tend to freeze up under heavy traffic, requiring a reboot of the device to restore performance. This describes many modem/routers, as well. The Airport Extremes are rock-solid by comparison. A modem/router functioning purely as a modem won't get itself into trouble.
     
  8. DutchguyJoost thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 20, 2014
    #8
    Everyone, thank you so much for your explanations!!

    My modem/router is a Zyxel P-2812HNU-F1 (http://www.zyxel.com/nl/nl/products_services/p_2812hnu_fx_series.shtml?t=p), accessible through an orderly web interface that I can reach by visiting the 192.168.x.x home address of my modem/router in my web browser. In this interface, I can simply choose to flip a switch "enable DHCP" to "disable DHCP" - it that all there is to switching it to bridge mode or is there more to it? And will I, afterwards, still be able to access the web interface, or is this an irreversible step :-?

    And the AE will setup by itself (and Airport Utility) after resetting? I don't have to fiddle around with static IP adresses or other things I'm not comfortable with?

    Just want to make sure that I understand the process step-by-step without rendering my network configuration useless.

    Thank you in advance for your replies!
     
  9. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

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    Jan 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hawaii, USA
    #9
    I'm not familiar with that modem/router, but I did a quick search and it looks like there's one additional step if you go about it by disabling things manually (as opposed to hitting the "Bridge Switch" button, which Zyxel routers supposedly have). You'll also need to disable NAT. The website I'm referencing is about enabling "Transparent Mode", which seems like a halfway bridge mode. That website doesn't specifically list steps about enabling bridge mode, though.

    If you're using DSL, you'll need to set the AE to Connect using PPPoE and then enter your ISP account details (username and password). If you're using cable, setting the AE to connect using DHCP should suffice. Assuming you're using a standard consumer-grade connection, you don't have any static IP to worry about. These are all under the "Internet" tab of Airport Utility version 6. Under the "Network" tab, the router mode should be set to "DHCP and NAT."

    As a precaution, I would export your Zyxel's configuration settings to a file and become familiar with the factory reset switch. Also be aware that changing the settings of the Airport Extreme will cause the Airport Extreme to reboot. Thus, this configuration change should only be performed when there's nothing relying on the wireless network, and when you have a bit of time to troubleshoot and/or restore your previous configuration in the event that things don't work.
     
  10. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #10
    Call the ISP. Bridging a modem essentially gives the global IP address to the AirPort. Simply disabling DHCP is not bridge mode.
     
  11. Hammie macrumors 65816

    Hammie

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    Wash, DC Metro
    #11
    Here is the link to the users guide: ftp://ftp2.zyxel.com/P-2812HNU-F1/user_guide/P-2812HNU-F1_1.00.pdf

    Go to page 35. It shows a field called "Mode". They want it set to 'Routing' in the guide. Change it to 'Transparent' or 'Off' or 'Modem Only' (Im not sure what options you will have. This will allow the AExt to be in charge of your network. As mentioned before, since you have DSL, you will need to set the AExt to use PPPoE.

    Good luck!
     
  12. robgendreau macrumors 68030

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    Jul 13, 2008
    #12
    Yes, essentially you need to make the modem as much like just a modem as possible...but it still needs to find your AE. On my 2Wire it seems to use something like what Zyxel called transparent mode. The 2Wire only routes via ethernet to a AE; on the 2Wire you have to put it in DMZ mode so essentially all traffic goes straight through to the AE, which handles routing, wifi, port forwarding, NAT, and firewall duties.
     
  13. MacTCE macrumors 6502

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    Dec 20, 2013
    #13
    I have a Ubee from TWC cable similar to how your Zyxel is setup. It has the router and wireless functionality baked in. You'll need to contact your ISP or research online how to place it bridge mode so it acts solely as a modem and let your AE do all the routing, DHCP, firewall, etc.
    I also have to agree that you'd be better off going with an external HDD connected to your AE and using Carbon Copy Cloner for backups. That way if your Mac has issues you can just unplug the external from the AE, plug it into your Mac and you have a fully bootable backup.
     
  14. DutchguyJoost thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2014
    #14
    Thanks everybody! Unfortunately, there is a complication that I had not thought of: my modem/router also provides my landline telephone signal, and I have been told that I cannot put the modem/router into bridge mode unless I find another way to handle VOIP... I appreciate any suggestions for solving this situation!

    In the meantime, my AE is in bridge mode and my modem/router still functions as router. Should I still connect the NAS and other ethernet-linked apparatus to the AE, or is that not useful?
     
  15. Hammie macrumors 65816

    Hammie

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    Location:
    Wash, DC Metro
    #15
    I was wondering about that, but figured it should not matter.

    My voice and Internet are provided over the same connection (Xfinity/Comcast), but I use an AirPort Ext as my router. I'm not sure if my modem can act as a router, but I specifically told my provider that I was using my own router.

    See if they offer another device where the router is not a required device as a apart of their service. I cannot imagine a provider mandating the use of their router to EVERYONE. There are a lot of techie geeks out there, like me. :)
     
  16. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    Location:
    Elkton, Maryland
    #16
    Still, connect your peripherals to the Extreme rather than the modem device.
     

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