The Netgear FVS114 router is a small little box, but don’t let it fool you: It’s the biggest pile of shit I’ve ever had the displeasure of trying to configure. VPN on the whole seems to be some kind of smoke-and-mirrors, propellerhead handjob involving IP addresses (check), shared keys, certificates (uh…), authentications, policies (WTF?), and seventy-three other acronyms that make my eyeballs bleed. This product is billed as an easy-to-configure product for the average homeowner, but this is LIES. The only homeowner doing any configuring on this thing is that guy who ran the computer lab in college who smelled like cheese.
Buying the box and configuring it is pretty straightforward, I guess. I say “I guess” because it could be continually pinging every server in the Czech Republic and I wouldn’t know; after I stepped through their wizard, there was a pretty simple little screen that came up and connected with the Netgear website, and I could see the internets, and so I figured it was working OK.
Attempting to connect using the built-in VPN client in XP met with a big zero: Netgear wanted to read a menu in Mandarin Chinese and XP wanted to recite times tables in Swahili. After looking around for open-source help (hint: don’t bother), I found that Netgear sells VPN client software which is supposed to work seamlessly with the box, and come with pre-configured setup files that I could use to connect to the router. Not wishing to waste any more of my client’s time, I ordered it, and it arrived this afternoon.
My installation process went something like this:
- Install the software.
- Use the “wizard”, which misconfigured my client software so badly that I had to uninstall and reinstall it.
- Follow the PDF “Manual,” which was written for the entire family of VPN routers but mainly focused on the more expensive FVS318 VPN router, and includes multiple menu items that our router doesn’t have, making configuration impossible.
- Folow the software “Help” files, which recommend a THIRD, COMPLETELY DIFFERENT METHOD OF CONFIGURING THE SOFTWARE. Which doesn’t work. And results in another uninstall/reinstall cycle.
- Research the downloadable profiles, and find that there are only two files written for routers that I don’t have.
- Realize there is no online help, and that support via Netgear is fee-based.
- Uninstall the software for the last time.
Netgear’s documentation is the most poorly written, incomprehensible mess I’ve ever been forced to read: each of the manuals were written on different continents by different engineers about different products. And none of them worked; if I’d been able to get one of them to function properly, I’d be happy.
Consider yourself warned: This is crap. Stay away.