Latest TP-Link updates resolve NTP data squandering firmware issue

The latest firmware update for TP-Link repeaters/range extenders saves their customers approximately 715 MB every month in unwanted internet traffic.

, I wrote about a design flaw in the firmware of TP-Link Wi-Fi repeaters that caused these devices to waste roughly 715 MB of data per month each in meaningless NTP traffic. TP-Link has now released firmware updates for most of their still-supported models that include the following changelog entry:

Improved Online detection method and reduced unnecessary data traffic.

The update changes the online connectivity check in TP-Link’s products to no longer sending one NTP request and five DNS requests out on the public internet every five seconds. These excessive checks resulted in a data consumption of approximately 715 MB per month per device.

The new check consists of sending one ICMP ping request to the local network gateway/router every five seconds instead. This means TP-Link repeaters will remain fairly chatty devices on your local network, but they will no longer slowly eat up your monthly data cap with your internet service provider.

Firmware update availability by model

  • RE650 V1 (update available)
  • RE500 V1 (no information – notably the hardware is identical to RE650 V1)
  • RE450 V1 and V2 (update available)
  • RE350 V1 (update available)
  • RE305 V1 (update available)
  • RE205 V1 (no update, but problem has been acknowledged)
  • RE200 V2 (no update, but problem has been acknowledged)
  • TL-WA855RE V2 and V3 (update available)
  • TL-WA850RE V4 and V5 (update available)

This update also removes the non-functioning check-for-update interface mechanism in TP-Link’s web administration interface. Rather than to fix the update check and introduce proper auto-update, TP-Link chose to removed people’s abilities to pretend to check-for-updates. I guess that’s progress? Customers must manually check for and download the firmware update from their local TP-Link website.

Please note that the update downloads are only available in some countries through the local TP-Link website in each country. Firmware for your region may still be available from a neighboring country. The problem appears to be that TP-Link just has bad routines for pushing out updates to each of their country-specific websites.

I wrote about this issue extensively in “TP-Link serves outdated or no firmware at all on 30 % of its European website”. For this specific firmware release, the issue also affects TP-Link’s websites in the United States for some models.

While researching this article, I noticed that some TP-Link repeater models have received updates for the KRACK Attacks security vulnerabilities that were disclosed in . About half of the models mentioned above have yet to receive updates for KRACK Attacks. These security updates have also only been pushed out in some countries; but the firmware for some models may be outdated even in countries that have received updates for other models. Which countries receive which updates appears to be a matter of random chance.