It's always a rough day for users when an internet-connected device unexpectedly goes offline. We remember just a few months ago when Insteon devices went dark without any warning or communication. Customers had no idea what was going on or if there was a way to recover any of the devices they had built their smart homes upon. What rises above this in terms of internet issues is having your router go offline with seemingly no issue or recognition of the problem. This is exactly what Asus router owners experienced this week.
The beginning of the problem
On Wednesday, May 17, 2023, owners of Asus routers began watching their routers go offline across the world. In the beginning, there was no sign as to what the problem might be. So, using phones and other cellular-connected devices, users took to online forums, including Asus' own online help forum, looking for assistance. As time went on, more routers were going offline and more people were looking for assistance, so the conversations got bigger. While users were talking about the issue a lot, the company was not. At all.
For the next 2 days, users were being picked off in groups. It didn't seem to matter what part of the world the users were in, which model of router they had, or what their service provider was doing. The only connection was Asus routers universally. However, Asus was still completely silent on the issue. No responses in the forum, and no tweet from the company giving an update. In fact, there was absolutely no recognition that there was an issue at all, despite the activity in their own forum.
The issue revealed
It took nearly 48 hours from the first report of an offline router before Asus decided to recognize the issue. On Friday, Asus released a statement acknowledging that there was an issue, what it had discovered, and a solution to the problem. As it turns out, there was a configuration file error provided on their servers that was downloaded to the routers as part of a botched update. The config file prevented the routers from being able to continue operating correctly.
The company's first fix was to power cycle the router, getting their IT credentials from The IT Crowd. The hope is that before the router loses awareness of the internet, it will be able to grab the updated config file and be safe. If that doesn't work, which it likely won't, you've got to download a new version of the file yourself and upload it onto the router. If this isn't on your radar, you can also do a full router reset and it will grab the settings file before getting started.
The consumer problem
The issue here, as it was with Insteon, is that there was no communication from the company. As soon as it was aware there was a problem, Asus should have acknowledged its awareness of the problem. That helps owners understand that they're not insane and that they haven't done something wrong. These acknowledgments are important, and potentially legally mandated in certain parts of the world. In order to maintain face with your customers, the best bet is to be forthcoming not to be secretive.