Flashrouters is a networking company who provides top of the line routers. We got the chance to interview Joe Soria, FlashRouters Co-Founder and Sales Manager, to get to know a little bit more about Flashrouters, and networking security. Don’t forget to check out our FlashRouters Review here.
Why did you create FlashRouters?
Our purpose at FlashRouters is to provide networking solutions for a variety of home and small business needs.
We started out 3 plus years ago on a mission to help users simplify the process of upgrading their wireless router networks, the most important, and the most under appreciated tech gadget in any connected home. This is accomplished through the process of “flashing” a router with the some of the latest and greatest open-source router firmware projects: DD-WRT and Tomato. Many routing features are limited by the firmware that manages the router hardware. Open-source firmware unlocks the true potential of any router hardware.
The router is your network backbone and all traffic through any network will have to pass through a router to reach the outside Internet. Our open-source upgrade solution provides customers with the tools to protect their private Internet traffic from hackers, identity thieves, and ISP interference.
We strive to educate the general public on the necessities of Internet security by providing extensive coverage on any of the latest news and updates in the field of virtual security and encryption in weekly blog posts. We have also established partnerships with a large number of VPN providers, to help promote access and privacy across the web.
How has FlashRouters changed since its beginning?
While our initial focus was on the niche area of router VPN setups, we discovered that open source router firmware can provide a variety of home network solutions from wireless extender setups and SmartDNS setups, to WiFi Hotspots, VPN and DDNS servers setups; all features that we are beginning to promote and support.
Initially, we saw a need for network security and we filled it,but it has led us into the middle of an open-source technology boom.
The beauty of open-source is that is public. But for the average user, it can be a bit intimidating after years and decades of experience with simplification. The reason many programs like a Microsoft Office are so popular is because they are omnipresent, and people were used to them while open-source was kind of a stepchild for geeks but give me LibreOffice for free any day of the week.
Educating users of their options is the hardest part of our job. Sometimes they just don’t believe that things we are offering are actually possible. But now people have gotten a taste of the great free and user-generated projects that don’t require huge expenditures on licenses for the individual or business. And they see that if you do a little research and put in a little elbow grease, they will get something more agile & nimble for their expanding needs. Open-source projects are crafted with the long-term user-desires in mind rather than profit.
Can you give some insight on why someone would prefer DD-WRT versus Tomato firmware?
This is probably our most frequent question and is hard to give a simple answer to.
Some nice added DD-WRT & TomatoUSB features outside of the robust VPN implementations include improved bandwidth management/graphing, improving wireless transmission power, processor overclocking, and VLAN support for a truly segmented guest network. Some are just minor tweaks that customers are looking for like the ability to turn off the constantly flashing LEDs that annoy them.
The advantages of DD-WRT are in the amount of router models supported, which results in a larger user base/community in general because of that support. We prefer DD-WRT for certain setups like wireless extenders and repeaters as we find the implementation more encompassing with the type of setups users are looking for.
DD-WRT generally includes a larger feature set in its interface but can be considered a bit geekier and a bit less user friendly. DD-WRT also supports the use of 3G/4G USB modems for users looking to do away with a wired Internet provider or are always on the move.
For open-source beginners looking for a friendlier interface, Tomato is preferred. Some of the advanced setups are a bit easier to handle like individual user bandwidth management, installing a networked USB hard drive, or saving multiple OpenVPN connection options within the router. The versions we usually lean towards have added some nice touches like an update notification and a visual map of connections for the wired Ethernet ports.
Yesterday, a customer called to say that WiFi affects their mother when she is trying to sleep so they wanted to find a setup where they can schedule the WiFi to be off between 11 PM – 8 AM. We were able to help them out with a Tomato router that had built in scheduling for this. It’s the little things sometimes. It feels good to know we are helping people solve problems.
This is a part of the landscape that we excel in navigating and are always willing to help users with a recommendations based on their needs.
Whether that is the best device for a specific VPN provider, for a specialized business setup, for creating a WiFi hotspot for a small business, or for IT staff/remote workers looking a to connect or manage something remotely. The applications seem endless and we seem to get a new setup idea from our users on a daily basis. Wireless is the way everything is going and we feel the more knowledge, understanding and control the user has the better it is for everyone in the long run
Does FlashRouters come with any proprietary software?
A FlashRouter comes with knowledge and experience, which is why all of our routers include a warranty and a free support plan. Something that you will not get when flashing yourself either. What our team focuses on is testing routers for home and small office users to make sure they are getting the most out of their hardware for the long term.
Anything that we do users can do on their own if they wish to put the time and research. But the process comes with no backing so if done incorrectly, you may end up with a “brick,” a dead piece of brand new hardware. We have daily horror stories of people trying to do it themselves only to spend the time and energy and end up with what amounts to nothing.
When I think of a FlashRouter, I think of cooking a great meal. You need the quality ingredients, the recipe, and the cooking skills. We take the excellent ingredients— the router hardware, send it out with the best recipe— enhanced firmware. Then we include setup information and support. So the meal is already cooking and ready to be served.
The benefit here is that you don’t have to make the meal over and over again. You get the benefits of our networking cornucopia of knowledge everyday.
Can a router improve Internet user security?
That’s our top priority and why we started this. Not only can a better router improve security but also it allows you to have increased control on what goes in and out of your network.
With the recent spate of major errors and flaws found in standard router firmware from Asus, Netgear and Cisco, most owners of these devices don’t even know about the problems. They will keep getting Internet and as long as it works they will not be aware of the serious security problems. I would estimate that for around 98% of Internet users, the word firmware might as well be in another language.
Our routers are the first step in the process of network wide protection for many users. Some users are very aware and experienced with securing their network and activity and they just don’t want to deal with the hassles of flashing. Other users are still stuck on old Wireless-G routers because they are functional but their entire network is subject to numerous security holes.
So our goal is to get you that excellent hardware while removing those prospective issues. Who wants to buy something online or at a store that is meant to improve your network only to be harmful right out of the box.
Do you support only certain VPN providers?
As far as our support & relationship with VPN providers, we consider ourselves a Switzerland. We did start out early with only a few as partners so they have long been in place and prevalent on the site.
But as we grow and see increased demand from VPN providers and their customers, we have done our best to be as fair and honest about each and every provider that we support. Our goal is to help people get the right router for whatever VPN provider or setup they desire at their budget.
Some of the current providers we have tested for functionality and are able to support include Private Internet Access, IPVanish, OverPlay, Hide My Ass, EarthVPN, IVPN, VPNSecure.me, CyberGhost, Proxy.sh, VPN.AC, VyprVPN, ExpressVPN, ExpatTelly, Astrill, Seed4Me, 12VPN, Kepard, Mullvad, PureVPN, AirVPN, IronSocket, BTGuard, VikingVPN, BananaVPN, BeeVPN, MyPrivateNetwork, ProxPN, VPNUK, BolehVPN, BoxPN, HideIPVPN, ibVPN, SaferVPN, and more. Not bad off the top of my head.
If you do not see your VPN provider on our supported list contact us and we will be glad to test a provider before adding direct support.
Lastly, do you personally use a FlashRouter? If so which router?
In my home, I test pretty much every router at some point. Right now, I am running on the Asus RT-AC68U, which has been the most requested router model on our site for months. Just like most people, I have a mix of older devices and new Wireless-AC ready devices so I am always working on trying to figure out even better setups and configurations.
Wireless-AC is just starting to enter the mainstream but users looking for future-proof their network for years to come should be looking at our Wireless-AC routers as a long-term solution.