Monday, October 01, 2007

Linksys, must you insult my intelligence?

Linksys says, "yeah, OK the USB storage link doesn't work with your size hard drive, and you are correct, there is no documentation indicating this system requirement.... but it's not our fault you bought that hard drive."]

My Linksys WRT350N Wireless-N Gigabit Router with Storage Link does not recognize my large, Western Digital 1 TB MyBook Premium External Hard Drive 1394A/USB 2.0.

After some research (check out the angry review that starts, "Do not buy a Linksys WRT350N! ..." and ends, "Save yourself a lot of money and even more valuable time and don't believe what this company is telling you about this product. It is a lie.,") it became clear that there is a known issue (known by network users with common sense and troubleshooting skills) that Linksys is choosing not to acknowledge. That is what is really insulting. The lack of acknowledgment of any problem whatsoever. I have been postponing facing this issue for several weeks now, because I knew what I would be up against.

I've been around technology long enough to know that I will have to pay for a solution, whether it be payment in the form of telephone time on hold or the TECH SUPPORT GAUNTLET idiot dance (you may be familiar with the TECH SUPPORT GAUNTLET idiot dance if you have ever requested support for DSL, mobile phones, or laptops).

Here is what we accomplished in today's two 60+ minute session:

Joe Linksys: Hi, my name is Joe Linksys. How may I help you?
Crockett: Hi Munirih
Crockett: I have a wrt350N
Crockett: won't recognize 1TB USB HDD.
Joe Linksys: Hello, Crocket! Please continue.
Crockett: will recognize my little USB flash drive
Crockett: Firmware version 1.05.8beta didn't help
Crockett: Is there another firmware update?
Joe Linksys: Don't worry Crocket, I'll be assisting you with your concern.

Joe Linksys: Let me verify first this information. Your telephone number is 626-798-0323, right?

Crockett: right
Joe Linksys: I see. What's the size of your USB flash drive?
Crockett: I'm not reading it, but I believe it was something like .3GB according to the router's web interface... let me plug it back in & tell you exactly
Joe Linksys: Okay.
Crockett: "found new hardware... disk drive...."
Crockett: 30.9MB FAT
Joe Linksys: Alright. How about if you wire your 1TB hard drive to your computer, can it detect or access the HD?
Crockett: Yes.
Crockett: Would you like me to do that right now for verification?
Joe Linksys: Yes, please, but I believe it will no longer be read by the computer once it is formatted on the router.
Crockett: ok thanks for the warning. That's no problem, though. Give me 1min to run and get it and plug it in to the computer
Joe Linksys: Alright, take your time.
Crockett: OK, it's plugged in to my workstation's USB. give it a minute to recognize the hardware etc
Joe Linksys: No problem.
Crockett: OK now I have in "My Computer"...
Crockett: WD MyBook (F:)
Crockett: ah it's NTFS 465 GB- must be mirrored. I can re-format if you suggest it
Joe Linksys: If you reformat it, you will loose all your files in there.
Crockett: i understand. that is OK. I just want to be able to make the linksys function properly as a file server
Joe Linksys: Alright. You may reformat it so that we can properly isolate the problem.
Crockett: NTFS or FAT32?
Joe Linksys: You can use either one of those.
Crockett: looks like there is some kind of hardware RAID on this, because windows thinks it is a single device... let me look @ WD Raid Manager and make sure I eliminate any extra complicating

Joe Linksys: Alright. You can take your time.
Crockett: reinstalling WD MyBook Raid Manager....
Joe Linksys: Alright.
Joe Linksys: How was it, Crocket?
Crockett: looks like WD Raid Manager is not going to cooperate, so we shall ignore this for now and let windows format the drive as it sees fit
Crockett: do you know- is it normal for winXP to ONLY allow NTFS formatting?
Joe Linksys: Crocket, are you still there?
Crockett: yes
Crockett: I performed a quick format, and now I have "wd mybook (F:), 465.75 GB NTFS."
Crockett: What next?
Joe Linksys: Okay. But our objective here is to make sure that the computer can read your 1TB USB HDD.
Joe Linksys: As far as I know, it should not be like that. It should allow FAT or NTFS.
Crockett: we can change that objective to making it read my 465.75 GB HDD. I had forgotten it was mirrored, so I was off by 50% about the file size
Crockett: But the objective is to make the linksys wrt350N read the USB Western Digital MyBook HDD
Crockett: whether it's .5 or 1TB
Joe Linksys: You're right. After formatting your hard drive, try to create a folder in it to make sure that your computer can access the folder in the hard drive.
Crockett: ok, yes, that worked ("new folder" exists)
Joe Linksys: Good. Now it means that you computer can access your hard drive. This time, we'll connect it on the router.
Crockett: OK. 1 minute and I will go into the other room and plug the HDD into the router. Do you need me to be able to look at the router and tell you anything? It's in another room, so I will

plug in HDD and be right back.
Joe Linksys: After plugging the hard drive, just check the web interface of the router specifically the Storage tab and check in there if it is recognized.
Crockett: OK. Storage tab says, "Disk Detail There are currently no available disks." and, "Erase Disk No disks are currently defined"

Joe Linksys: This is weird. It should be able to read it. Can you please hold on for 3 to 4 minutes? I'll just try to verify this case to my superior and check for other possible work around.
Crockett: certainly. Thanks for helping. I will be standing by...
Joe Linksys: Thank you. I'll be back soon.
Joe Linksys: Thank you for waiting, Crockett.
Crockett: no problem take your time. i'm multi-tasking
Joe Linksys: I have verified this case and I was informed that it is normal for the router not to detect the 465.75 GB HDD. This is because the hard drive was mirrored and was in RAID. The WRT350N

can only support hard drives that are not in RAID or mirrored. We only have 1 device that supports hard drive that are in RAID or mirrored form.
Crockett: hmmmm.... can you hang on while I reformat without raid?
Joe Linksys: Sure, I can and just for an additional information, the router has not yet been fully tested to handled a hard drive that is in TB size.
Crockett: is there any "use at your own risk" firmware that I can try to better support 1TB?
Joe Linksys: As of now, the 1.05.8 beta is the latest firmware for the WRT350N.
Crockett: it sounds like the router doesn't do what the advertisement said.
Joe Linksys: I apologize if the product has fallen short on the level of your expectation, Crocket.
Crockett: i appreciate the apology but can you put me in touch with someone that can help? "Sorry the product does not function as advertised" does not solve my problem or give me my money back.
Crockett: I would like to know if there are plans for a firmware update, otherwise can I trade this for a non-storage-link router?
Joe Linksys: I understand your situation, Crockett. We at technical support are not yet informed by the proper department if there will be a firmware upgrade for the router. Our options left here

is to reformat the hard drive without RAID.
Crockett: this is what I'm doing right now.
Crockett: Now we have "New Volume (F:) 931.51 GB NTFS."
Joe Linksys: Alright. We can't really say that the product is faulty because it was able to read your USB flash drive. It's just that it's a product limitation that the router can't read or detect

HD that is in RAID or in TB size.
Crockett: Where was that information disclosed in the documentation?
Joe Linksys: There's no documentation that says that the router has that kind of product limitation.
Crockett: Can you put me in touch with someone who can help me?
Joe Linksys: Crockett, I am already a second level technician. Next to me is my team captain. I have gathered the information that I told you from her about the product limitation of the device.
Crockett: excellent, thank you.
Crockett: Do you think it is fair that I should be able to trade this router for a non-storage-link version, since it is unusable with my hard drives? Or can you tell me of plans and ETA for

upgraded firmware so I may use it with my HDD?
Joe Linksys: The only way for us to have the router read the hard drive is to reformat it without RAID. If after reformatting it, it still can't be detected on the router, then we could say that

it's because of the size of the hard drive.
Crockett: OK, then let's do that. Now we have "New Volume (F:) 931.51 GB NTFS." Shall I do a read/write test on the workstation before plugging in to the router?
Joe Linksys: Yes, please.
Crockett: OK, I created a "New Folder" as before
Crockett: What next?
Joe Linksys: Now, please connect the hard drive to the router.
Crockett: ok. standby...
Joe Linksys: Alright. Please check again if it will be detected on the router. If it's not, we can try doing a power cycle on the router and the hard drive.
Crockett: ok but didn't you already tell me it is known that this product won't work with 1TB drives?
Joe Linksys: Right, bur there is a possibility that it will read the hard drive. It is a may or may not work setup.
Crockett: OK in the web interface, I see, "Disk Detail There are currently no available disks." and, "Erase Disk
No disks are currently defined."
Crockett: How should I cycle the power? just unplug and re-insert power cables?
Joe Linksys: To do a power cycle, first, you unplug the power adapter of the router. Unplug the hard drive. After 5 minutes, plug ibn the router again and connect the hard drive.
Crockett: ok, I will be back in 5 minutes...
Joe Linksys: Wait, aren't we going to get disconnected?
Crockett: touche
Joe Linksys: What do you mean?
Crockett: a joke b/c i was embarassed that I didn't anticipate the obvious disconnection that would occur.
Crockett: OK, so what shall I do for testing and following-up with you?
Joe Linksys: Just power cycle the router and the hard drive and tell me if the hard drive was detected. When we get disconnected, you can relogin. You can ask the receiving agent if it's possible

for him to transfer you to me. If I'm not available, just check your email for a reference number. Give that reference to the next agent so they can pull out our chat session. If you don't have a

reference number, just give you email address so you don't have to start over with the receiving agent.

Crockett: OK. Thank you for your time and patience.
Joe Linksys: You're welcome, Crockett. I'm glad to be at your service. Do you have any other concerns that I can help you with?

Crockett: YES. What can I do to rapidly escalate this issue so that I may minimize the amount of time required for us to reach a resolution?
Joe Linksys: When you relogin, you will be automatically sent to a second level technician. Just ask the technician to pull out our previous chat so that you don't have to start over.
Crockett: OK thanks.
Joe Linksys: You're welcome. Be sure to visit our Knowledge Base located at and click on Ask Linksys. The site contains troubleshooting tips, how-to instructions, as

well as solutions to common issues relating to all Linksys products.

Joe Linksys: Thank you for giving us an opportunity to serve you through Live Chat Support. For your records, you may copy and paste this chat session to your Word document. Feel free to contact

us if you require further assistance. Once again, my name is Munirih with badge ID 19002. Please don't forget to close the window properly so we can assist other clients. Thank you for choosing

Linksys and have a great day!

Boys and girls, can you guess what happened after I reconnected the router and plugged in the non-mirrored 1TB HDD? Yes of course it still doesn't work just like everyone knows.

To be continued....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i just love tech support chat transcripts...btw, did you return this router? i've been battling one at a client's office. they wanted a network storage option - CHEAP - with no server or anything involved. told them to get this router or one like it with a usb port and we'd try that. i'm now on the third time trying to recover their data after the disk has shown up mysteriously as not there and with no data on it...