Amazon Fire HD 8 Crashing My Wireless Router?!

I took advantage of Amazon Prime day this year and picked up a new Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet. While setting it up, I ran into problems when the wireless connection kept dropping. Others in the family had reported Wifi problems earlier in the day, so I didn’t think too much of it. Rebooted the cable modem and wireless router, but the problems persisted. Figured it was a problem at the cable company and decided to just let it go until the next day.

Unfortunately, the problems persisted into the next day… until I turned off Wifi on the Fire HD 8! It turns out that something about the Fire HD 8 was crashing my wireless router. This could be consistently demonstrated: the router crashed repeatedly every time I turned on Wifi on the Fire HD 8, and recovered when I turned off Wifi.

After doing some online research and finding a number of unusual solutions that were purported to work (make sure to check the “Hide Password” box on the Fire HD 8 before connecting? really?), I was able to track down the real problem (and a solution).

Wireless routers can be configured with a variety of different security options. These options control who has access to the network; it can be left entirely open for anyone to use, or can be secured using a variety of different protocols and encryption strategies.

Two of the strategies are to leave the network open or to use WEP security. Neither are good options: an open network is a bad idea, and WEP is a weak protocol.

Better options are WPA and WPA2, WPA2 being the most secure. My router’s configuration page includes the following description of the security options:

“Use ‘WPA or WPA2’ mode to achieve a balance of strong security and best compatibility. This mode uses WPA for legacy clients while maintaining higher security with stations that are WPA2 capable. Also the strongest cipher that the client supports will be used. For best security, use ‘WPA2 Only’ mode. This mode uses AES cipher. For maximum compatibility, use ‘WPA Only’. This mode uses TKIP cipher.”

Another thing to note is that the WPA2 with AES option allows for the highest wireless rate (generally around 130Mbps). WPA with TKIP is capped at a rate of 56Mbps.

How does all of this relate to the problem I was having with my Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet? My router had been configured as suggested, in ‘WPA or WPA2’ mode, for maximum compatibility. When I changed the configuration to WEP with TKIP only, the problems went away! It seems that something about my router, the Amazon Fire HD 8, and WPA2 with AES was a bad combination.

The solution was to configure the “Guest Zone” on my router, which effectively sets up a second network. I left my original network configured in ‘WPA or WPA2’ mode, so that all of my existing devices could take advantage of the better security and higher wireless throughput rate of WPA2 (assuming they supported it). The new “Guest” network was configured with ‘WPA Only’ and the TPIK cipher. I connected the Fire HD 8 to the “Guest” network, and now all of my devices (including the router!) are able to coexist peacefully together. As far as the lower throughput rate on the Guest network required by the ‘WPA Only’ option, it does not seem to be an issue. I have been able to stream video on the Fire HD 8 from several locations in the house, both near and relatively far from the wireless router.

Hope this information helps someone else!

 

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