Question NTP Server, DHCP, and multiple routers!

Aug 27, 2021
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Hi All -
I came here because I don't know where else to turn. My home network has been troublesome for many years, and I think I know why, but I will get into that. And up front, I'm probably a 3-4 out of 10 overall with tech - to a normal person, I probably seem pretty intelligent, but to people here, I am most likely very much a dummy. So I apologize if I don't explain right or use the wrong terminology.

My network starts with a cable modem supplied by Cox. I also have a security system through them, and I have a security system router through them (spoiler alert, I am almost certain this router - the existence of the router on my network, not the fact the router is old - is the problem). I just purchased a ASUS RT-AX86U a month ago because I was told I should get a router with WiFi6 technology. So I'm cable modem into security router, and ASUS router plugged into security router to get internet, My ASUS router is not being used as a normal router, as the security system router is the "initial" router, and to get the ASUS router to work with it and my network, I have DHCP on the ASUS router turned off.

I noticed recently that when I'm copying files to my network drive (connected via USB to the ASUS router), the date of the folder, when dragged from my C drive, changes to May of 2018. Not knowing what was going on, I looked it up and eventually found out that I need to configure my router to talk to an NTP server so it will synch and get the correct date and time. I have tried DNS Query, I have tried pinging websites......nothing works. The router settings continue to say "Reminder: The system time has not been synchronized with an NTP server" no matter what I do, how many times I hit apply and how many times I reboot. Whenever I reboot, the router is again saying May 5, 2018 at 1am as a timestamp.

Other issues - my router will not connect to the ASUS servers for a firmware upgrade, I have to manually download any updates and do myself. I also saw what (seemingly) looks like a cool feature to link my router to Alexa, so I can with voice control turn off my wifi, see how many devices are on the network, etc. I tried linking by following the instructions on Amazon/Asus's site, and it ultimately didn't work. I've tried to ping sites when logged into my router on my PC, and it just says "bad address".

The only thing I can possibly think of is that turning off DHCP doesn't allow all these features to work correctly. I don't know why that would be in a sense, but it's what I've come to conclude. ASUS support told me maybe that could be the problem (they were no help). What is equally as bizarre is the fact that my old router, while having different problems, did not have any issues with timestamps and reading from the NTP server, and I also had DHCP turned off on that router (it was also an ASUS router, but from 2014-2015).

I have quite a lot of smart items and other items connected to the wifi - light switches, TVs, receivers, etc. - and ASUS's answer of factory resetting the router is not appealing, as it took hours (days) to re-connect everything to the new network. And I would like to remove the security router from the equation to test, but that would require me to turn DHCP back on my ASUS router, then unplug it, then if it doesn't work properly, I think I'm essentially locked out of my router and would have to factory reset anyway. And, I have a buddy who is pretty good at this stuff, he is suggesting splitting the internet connection from the cable modem to the two different routers, but I think that would cause issues too, and I think Cox even tried to put the security router into the ASUS router in the past, and that screws up the network. My understanding is the security router has to be the main router, and DHCP needs turned off on the ASUS router. (Not that it matters in a sense but I don't even have the typical 192.168.1.0 IP structure, I'm 172.16.x.x because of this setup.

That is my situation. I can live with my setup, if I can somehow have the NTS server work properly. I am a music guy - I have thousands of albums ripped, and movies too - datestamps are important to me for sanity, backup, archival, etc. purposes. I cannot stand to see something I just ripped have a 2018 date stamp because my router cannot connect to a NTS sever, again in my mind because of DHCP. The Alexa thing is secondary, I don't care as much if that works, but would like it to if I could.

Based on what I said - any advice? Did I not explain something correctly? Am I way off with DHCP being the issue? Is this a potentially easy fix, or should I bag the security router, bite the bullet, reset the ASUS router, and add all my smart items to it again?

Any help would really be appreciated, I have spent so much time on this lately, and really, over the years, I'm ready to lose my mind. :(
 

OrlyP

Prominent
Aug 20, 2020
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At face value, I think your Asus router does not have a route to the internet. How is it connected to the security router, as in, which port on the Asus is connected to which port on the upstream router?

Are you able to ping anything on the internet from within your Asus router management portal? (ie. "ping yahoo.com", "ping 8.8.8.8", etc.)
 
Aug 27, 2021
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10
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At face value, I think your Asus router does not have a route to the internet. How is it connected to the security router, as in, which port on the Asus is connected to which port on the upstream router?

Are you able to ping anything on the internet from within your Asus router management portal? (ie. "ping yahoo.com", "ping 8.8.8.8", etc.)
My ASUS router is connected via WAN port to my security router. The LAN port does not have anything in it. The modem goes to the security router's LAN port.

And no, I am not able to ping anything from the portal. I ping and it says "bad address".
 

OrlyP

Prominent
Aug 20, 2020
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My ASUS router is connected via WAN port to my security router. The LAN port does not have anything in it. The modem goes to the security router's LAN port.

And no, I am not able to ping anything from the portal. I ping and it says "bad address".
Not familiar with your Asus router but there should be a page that shows you what IP address is assigned to the WAN port. For it to be able to access the internet, it should have three basic things, assuming there are no other issues:

  1. An IP address issued by the upstream security router, likely in the 10.x.x.x, 172.x.x.x, or 192.168.x.x range. If it doesn't have an IP address or you see a 169.x.x.x here, it means that was self-assigned as it didn't get an IP address from the DHCP server upstream. Suffice to say, we don't want the latter.
  2. A default gateway, which is typically the IP address of the upstream router.
  3. DNS IP, which can be the same as the default gateway, your ISP's DNS server, or some other public DNS server (ie. Google's 8.8.8.8, etc.)
Does your Asus have any of these configured?
 

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