a networking issue with the netgear orbi rbr50, part 2

I received a tip on Twitter from @Lenzflair_Jack to look at pfSense ( https://www.pfsense.org/ ). It may not be appropriate for my hardware, and more specifically, I couldn’t determine if it would actually install on the Orbi.

In the mean time I opened up the Orbi admin web page and edited the NTP section:

It was configured to automatically update to DST, so I turned that off. I set the time to GMT. And while I was in there I pointed at a more trustworthy NTP server at time-a-g.nist.gov. It was initially pointed at Netgear. Why would I want a more trustworthy NTP server? Because there is at least one proof-of-concept where an ‘evil’ NTP server can perform a denial-of-service attack with a malformed NTP response. Basically it’s an issue of trust, and right now I don’t trust Netgear.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done something similar. When I first set up the Orbi I changed my primary DNS server to Google at, and my secondary to Cloudflare at I’ve never had any issues with either over the last few decades, and I don’t expect I will in spite of how people like to harp about the evil of Google.

For those of you looking for a trustworthy NTP server, you can check here at https://tf.nist.gov/tf-cgi/servers.cgi . I’m sure there are plenty of others out there, but I refuse to use any service from the vendor of Orbi at this point in time.

Now I get to wait and see if there are any more home network outages.

a networking issue with the netgear orbi rbr50

tl;dr — I disabled Netgear Armor in an attempt to mitigate my Orbi’s randomly shutting down networking, but I still have random Orbi network shutdowns.

I have a Netgear Orbi with two satellites, which I purchased Christmas 2018 from my local Costco. It was easy to setup and has run flawlessly, that is, without any drama or even knowing it was around, until a week ago.

It was then that the Orbi’s wireless network suddenly stopped working. The WiFi signal was still up but nothing attached to the home network via WiFi could reach the internet. When I attempted to troubleshoot the Orbi through my Mac Mini, which has a direct physical connection, it was unreachable as well. It was as if the entire system were locked up. The only way to get back in was to power down, wait a few moments, then power back up. The Orbi would come back and run for many hours before shutting down again.

I noticed that while the hour might be random, the time within an hour is not. Every time I’ve noticed the Orbi would shut down it was at the bottom of the hour. That is, if the hour was 8am, then the shutdown time was 8:30am. Or if the hour was 5pm, then the shutdown time was 5:30pm. And that was with all the times I would notice if I were doing something at the time on one of my computers.

I started looking around at the services that the Orbi runs as well as external services it works with. One of this is Armor, “Powered by Bitdefender.” This is supposed to be something of a digital “guardian angel” that safeguards my network from “cyber threats, such as viruses, spyware, spam, malware, hackers, and more.” I got a free year through 2019 when I purchased the Orbi, then renewed it again in 2020. In all that time I’ve never heard a peep out of Armor about any threat. Not one. So when this random shutting down started I decided to disable Armor to see if it went away.

That meant I had to install the iOS app, because I couldn’t seem to turn it off via the admin web page. Once I turned it off, I got a security theater warning on both the app as well as the web page (of all things) to re-enable Armor or Bad Things Would Happen.

The Orbi network ran without interruption for over 48 hours until 8:30am this morning, when sure enough I lost connectivity all over again. I was so hopeful I’d inadvertently stumbled into the solution, but alas, such was not to be the case. Regardless, I won’t re-enable Armor. I still don’t trust it, or what it is supposedly doing, if anything. I’ve already gone to the trouble to change the default admin password, turned of SSID broadcast, and disabled the ability to log in from the internet. All the common sense rules you should apply when first setting this thing up. And I religiously keep up with all the firmware updates. I do have some faith in my own abilities.

What annoys me the most about this is I paid $300 for the full kit (router plus two satellites), which at the time was $100 off the regular price of $400. So after all these past few years I’m in no mood to get a replacement, even if the newest is WiFi 6 compliant. WiFi 6, like 5G wireless, is a rushed-to-market technology that does one thing only, and that’s separate your money from you for new features of questionable utility.

This failure mode has all the fingerprints of a crashing internal app. In looking back, all of this didn’t really start until daylight savings time switched last Sunday. I might just turn off DST and automatic DST, and see what happens then.

A second possible path might be to see if I can install/flash my own OpenWRT ( https://openwrt.org/ ) image onto the Orbi. The Orbi already ships with a heavily modified version of OpenWRT, but in looking on the OpenWRT site I can’t find any direct support of this router. If I do replace this Orbi, I will replace it with hardware directly support by OpenWRT.