A friend was having some trouble with the Netgear wireless router he was given by Virgin Media, which I fixed by replacing the Virgin-supplied firmware with the latest Netgear firmware. Doing this required a bit of digging around, so I thought I’d write a quick guide to sum up the information I found online.
Getting the latest firmware
First up, you need the latest firmware from Netgear. My friend has the WGR614v9, for which the latest firmware (at time of writing) can be found at http://kb.netgear.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/13279. Download the firmware from this page and open it up in a hex editor. On Windows I have tried out Geoff Prewett’s HexEdit, which seems to do the job, and on Linux I recommend Pixel’s hexedit – despite the name, these are not the same program! Alternatively you can use the
strings on UNIX-like systems (see the comments section at the bottom of this article).
In the hex editor, open up the firmware image. You're looking for the board ID that the firmware is intended for, which is in the file near the top and should look something like
U12H094T00_NETGEAR. Make a note of it. Once you've got it, it’s time to set the router to accept firmware for this board ID. To do so, you'll need to:
- Enable telnet access on the router
- Telnet into the router
- Change the router’s board ID
You can enable telnet on the router using a program called telnetEnable – see OpenWRT for information about it. First, log into your router. The usual way to do this is to open a web browser and go to http://routerlogin.com/ (if that doesn't work, try substituting “routerlogin.com” for “192.168.1.1” throughout these instructions). It will ask for a username and password, the default Virgin Media setup is usually
virgin for the username and
password for the password, it”s written on the label on the underside of the router so you can check for yourself if that doesn’t work. Go to the “Router Status” page and look up the router’s MAC address, which will be of the form
00:11:22:33:44:55:66. Make a note of this too. If you’ve changed any of the settings you may want to make a note of these too, as they will be lost when you overwrite the firmware.
Download the telnetEnable program from one of the links given above, and then open up a command prompt (on Windows you can do this by pressing the Windows key and ‘R’ simultaneously and typing
cmd into the box that appears). Change directory to the telnetEnable program – you may need to unzip it first – and run it using the following command:
telnetEnable.exe routerlogin.com 00112233445566 Gearguy Geardog
Here 00112233445566 is the router MAC address that you noted down earlier, with any ‘:’ characters removed. You should then be able to log in to the router using the command
telnet routerlogin.com (note: if you’re running Windows, you may need to enable telnet first). If all is well, you should see something like the following:
Trying 192.168.1.1... Connected to routerlogin.com. Escape character is '^]'. BusyBox v0.61.pre (2008.02.12-10:44+0000) Built-in shell (ash) Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands. #
At the ‘#’ prompt, type the command
burnboardid U12H094T00_NETGEAR (where
U12H094T00_NETGEAR is the firmware board ID you noted down earlier), and then restart the router with the command
Updating the firmware
Once the router has rebooted, you should be able to log in to it again from the web interface at http://routerlogin.com/. Go to the “Router Upgrade” page, select “Browse” and give it the location of the firmware that you downloaded earlier. For some reason if you try to do this in Firefox it gives an “Invalid filename for firmware” error. The upload works in Internet Explorer, I’m not sure about other browsers as I didn’t have any installed to test with. The router should then tell you it is upgrading the firmware. Once it’s finished, you’ll be prompted to log in again. Since it’s now using the Netgear firmware the username should now be
admin with password
password, although some users have reported that the login details stay at the Virgin-configured setting until the router is hard reset. You are now done and ready to configure the Netgear firmware to your heart’s content.
Once you start using the new firmware, I recommend changing the password and setting up the wireless to use WPA2-AES as this will make your network more secure.
Source: Most of the information in this post originally came from http://forum1.netgear.com/showthread.php?p=148146. Many thanks to DanielV.
If you have access to a linux/osx/unix box, the following will extract the info quicker:
imac:Downloads simonb$ strings WGR614v9-V1.2.24_37.0.35.chk | grep U12
the info in this tutorial is great and works a treat, but just wanted to point out
in the guide it says that once the netgear firmware is successfully loaded the user/pass is admin and password
but in my case it stayed as original virgin which is user: virgin pass: password
and only reverted to the netgear user/pass after a hard reset was done with the little reset button at the back, held in for 10 seconds
even though it was easy enough to realise that user/pass had not changed, you might want to change the guide to reflect this info
Thanks for pointing this out, I've added a note to the article. Glad you found it useful!
Good easy to follow instructions, thanks!
Now, I am wondering if you knew how to disable telnet again once the board id is set. Just feels wrong to have telnet access enabled on the frontline of my network...
Good question! Are you sure that telnet is still enabled? I think it is probably disabled again automatically by the firmware upgrade. The OpenWRT page on enabling telnet mentions the following:
If you aren't able to login anymore, which may occur after firmware updates or telnet-session timeouts/connection losses, repeat the unlocking procedure.
worked a treat brought this router from a carboot sale, ex-virgin media. I used the info listed on this site and now updated to V1.2.30_41.0.44 firmware thanks a lot............ keep up the good work john R U.K
Hi John, thanks for the kind words, glad you found it useful!
Not all routers are 'given' to you.
For example, Be Broadband simply lease you their router, so I'm not sure if it's a great idea to go flashing firmwares unless you are sure you will be able to change it back.
Having said that, hopefully your router has a reset button which will restore the factory firmware.
A fair point, this applies to at least some of Virgin Media's packages too (see http://allyours.virginmedia.com/html/broadband/wireless.html). Hitting the reset button won't restore the original firmware, to do that you'd need to follow the instructions above again in reverse using a copy of the Virgin firmware.
On the plus side, I've never heard of anyone being asked to return their router, by the time they reach the end of contract they're usually obsolete. Still, it's your call whether you mind breaching the T&Cs of your agreement with Virgin, we only provide instructions, not advice on whether it's a good idea to follow them or not!
I thought I might bring DD-WRT to your attention.
It is a Linux-based open source firmware for routers and it looks like it gives you much more control over your router.
I have a "BeBox" from BeBroadband (which is actually a Thompson Speedtouch) and it has very limited features. It only allows you to change settings via wizards and furthermore, the latest firmware version doesn't support VPN (!). Whilst the service is excellent, there's no point paying for a 24Mbps connection if your router isn't up to scratch.
I'll be writing a post soon with instructions on how to do this along with a brief review.
Watch this space.
There are several other open source firmwares available, e.g. OpenWRT, Tomato, plus a number of variants, but I'm not sure how much they'll help with the Virgin router discussed in this article. DD-WRT lists the Netgear WGR614v9 as a work-in-progress at the moment, it'd be interesting to know how well it works and how easy it is to install, but it doesn't sound ready for most people to use just yet. Feedback would be appreciated though! Anyone tried it out?
When I get time (and when I don't need the internet immediately) I'll try flashing my router with OpenWRT or something. I hate the firmware on my Thompson Gateway; it only allows me to adjust settings through annoying Wizards and doesn't allow much tweaking.
There's a saying... "If ain't broke don't fix it", but then if we never experimented, science would never advance!
Thank you sooo much for this - I spent so much time trying stuff from other posts I found to no avail. This guide was simple to follow and worked! If only I found this post first I would have saved a few hours messing about! Nice one - much appreciated :D
Thanks a lot: I'd got 99% of the way and was tearing my hair out because the router wouldn't accept my firmware file; turns out it was because I was using Firefox.
Annoying, isn't it? I had a similar issue with a 3Com router a few years back. Luckily that one actually worked in Konqueror, which was a life saver at the time since I didn't have a Windows computer available!
Thanks for a clear guide to installing standard firmware on a Virgin Netgear router!
There are other sites out there giving misleading instructions but yours worked perfectly - Thanks again.
Managed to upgrade my firmware using this, however had to do it slightly differently than explained above.
Instead of 'telnetEnable.exe routerlogin.com 00112233445566 Gearguy Geardog' I had to use my router's LAN IP address instead of routerlogin.com. i.e mine read 'telnetEnable.exe 192.168.1.1 00112233445566 Gearguy Geardog'
This enables telnet on the router but does not actually connect to it, so after entering this I then had to enter 'telnet 192.168.1.1' again before it connected and I got the response below.
Connected to routerlogin.com.
Escape character is '^]'.
BusyBox v0.61.pre (2008.02.12-10:44+0000) Built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.
After that everything worked great, just thought I would add this extra step :)
Thanks for the feedback, I've made a quick note in the article to try 192.168.1.1 if routerlogin.com doesn't work.
You guys are awesome. What a great idea! VM router has been giving me griefs for some time until i now decided 'enough is enough'. Thanks so much for the instruction - very detailed.
you must ensure the telnet client is on for this to work via control panel features. it is off as default in vista
Thanks for pointing this out. When I originally wrote the article, everyone was using XP so this wasn’t an issue! I've made a note in the main text.
I understand that this post was created back in 2009 and by 2010 everyone unlocked their device. Unfortunately for me, all these years I didn't unlock it. Now that I want to bridge the router I am unable with virgin locked firmware. I have tried your procedures again and again but with no success. Perhaps the telnetEnable.exe file I had downloaded did not work for me. And the link you provided also does not work. It is my sincere request that you give me a link for the telnetEnable.exe file.
Thank you in advance
The OpenWRT page linked in the article includes a link to telnetenable, which seems to still be live. I'm afraid I don't know anyone who still has one of the old Virgin routers to test whether the instructions still work.
Best of luck,
The instructions are still working, thanks! (I happened to use the Linux
Thanks for this great post. I could never use my Neatgear router after moving out from Virgin. This post made it possible to upgrade my router and now I was able to put it back online! Still works!!
Hi. I know this entry is very old, but I'm currently trying to debrand my virgin media Netgear DGN1000 router. Whenever I try to telnet into it, I get
8.0.1 (LAN MAC Address Here) admin changeme
send failed: 10057
Any help with this?
Got one of these routers out of a bin to extend my wireless network using it as a second access point. Still works as above using linux and telnetenable, however the only firmware I can find on the netgear website is for the american market. This means in wireless settings the region is locked to USA. Anyone still reading this know where a downloadable uk version is, even if its older so long as its not the virgin one.....
Didnt take long with a bit of googling to turn up an older worldwide firmware. Ive flashed it and all working ok. Miles better than the stock virgin stuff.
Forgot in my last comment to thank whoever posted this in the first place, so thankyou! You've saved another router from the bin and its now in service in the loft extending my WIFI upstairs.
For anyone else who is reading this and is looking to do the same the download link I found was http://drivers.softpedia.com/get/NETWORK-CARD/NETGEAR/Netgear-WGR614v9-…
Glad that the post was useful to you. Thanks for taking the time to post the link to the UK firmware, hopefully that will enable some other people keep more of these out of landfill!
Had a go with this in late 2020. I was having issues with a Virgin Superhub, and thought I'd try an old router as a temporary workaround. This also kept dropping out with the standard Virgin firmware.
I used the Linux version of telnetenable and the strings method. Some characters appeared after the _NETGEAR part of the string, which I think I discarded. The telnet username and password really were Gearguy Geardog.
Rick's comment above was most helpful with providing firmware that would actually update from the base Virgin firmware. After that, I was able to update to the latest Firmware Version 1.2.32 (All regions except North America) on the Netgear website.
The latter wouldn't update directly by following the telnet/burnboardid/update process.
For the last 48 hours the router has been rock solid, despite several phones, several computers, a TV and various home automation devices all competing for bandwidth. Wife happy. Result!
Not bad for instructions posted more than a decade ago...
Hey Mark, thanks for taking the time to post back with details about how to carry out the upgrade, great to hear that the process still works after all these years!
Managed to enable telnet, thanks to your brilliant instructions.
**I understand telnet is quite old, but it's required for me to unlock the router**
However, after enabling telnet, I tried connecting to local port using telnet 192.168.1.2, and it has given the error message: "Connecting to server... Could not open connection to the host, on port 23: Connection failed".
Hope you can assist me, thank you!
Hi Kevin, would love to help but I haven't had one of these devices around for years, sorry! The only thing I can suggest is that you double check the IP address - it looks to me like you should be using 192.168.1.1 rather than 192.168.1.2.