Archer routers and the empty client list (no devices shown in web or Tether app)

Archer routers and the empty client list (no devices shown in web or Tether app)

Archer routers and the empty client list (no devices shown in web or Tether app)
Archer routers and the empty client list (no devices shown in web or Tether app)
2020-03-27 22:35:10 - last edited 2020-05-15 16:41:47
Model: Archer C6  
Hardware Version: V2
Firmware Version: 1.2.1 Build 20200110 rel.60119

There are a few threads regarding the client list, some are even few years old, but wanted to summarize the unsolved issue.

 

The problem some users face, including myself recently, is that the list of connected clients is empty (when set as Access Point) or just displays one client (the one being used to configure the device, when set as Router Mode). In my case DHCP is handled by another router (let's call it the main router). In fact, most issues refer to using the Archer as a second router or access point.

 

It looks like Archers build the client list by inspecting ARP packets, that's great for building a network map, but the implementation is not reliable, especially for wireless clients. Somehow they may miss them and pinging a device would make it appear in the list because the Archer catches the ARP packet. For a wireless device that has to authenticate against the Archer, the Archer should count it without having to catch any packet, after all it is managing the wireless link. When the list is empty, I've found no way to populate it, not even rebooting, unplugging from the mains, changing settings, changing mode, pinging, etc. In Router Mode it would show just one device, the one used to configure the Archer.

 

It's interesting to note that:

 

  • In Router Mode there's a section listing the Wireless Stations. That list is perfect, it shows the clients that are authenticated in the AP and even the traffic. That's what you would expect to see in the wireless client list and in the Tether App. But, instead, you may get an empty or partial list, even when the Wireless Stations section is showing the correct information. So, the Archer knows it has N clients connected, but the method used to count them says 0 or 1.
  • In Access Point Mode there's no Wireless Stations section, which is a real pity because then you can't look at the actual connected clients anywhere. And the wireless client list, both in the web and Tether App, would say 0 clients. It's weird that not even the device being used to configure the router is counted as a connected device.

 

The usual workaround to see the connected clients is watching the DHCP list in the main router, but of course that's not what you're looking for (that's just for DHCP devices and won't tell you the type of connection or the band). It's not a list you can trust to know the connected clients because someone might be authenticated in the wireless network but using a manually set IP.

 

I hope that you fix it eventually, it's been working for me until a power outage, then no matter what I do the list is empty and won't populate. Same as many users before using different Archer devices and different firmware versions. Difference being is that before you would ping a device and it would appear, not anymore in my case.

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Re:Archer routers and the wireless client count and list (empty list, incomplete list, etc.)-Solution
2020-03-31 09:38:40 - last edited 2020-05-15 16:41:47

@Kevin_Z  @Carl Guys, I've found the empty client list bug!!!! :D Indeed it always has to do with access point mode or router mode working as access point, because... it happens only when DHCP Server is set to Off!!!

 

If DHCP Server is set to Off, the client list will be empty as soon as you reboot (at least for some users given the amount of threads).

If DHCP Server is set to On or Auto, the client list will be populated as expected (by ARP inspection, but it's pretty much accurate to generate a network map)

 

So it looks like DHCP Auto does more stuff than just setting the DHCP Server to On or Off depending on the network.

 

I have the list working again after many tries and pretty much all my testing lead to the DHCP set to Off causing the empty wired and wireless clients list, so ask your R&D team what does DHCP Server Off besides disabling the server. Guess it also disables that ARP inspecting used to generate the list of wired and wireless clients.

 

Best! 

 

P.D: I've even simulated a power outage and the list is still working. So it's definitely the DHCP Server Off setting that was causing the empty list and 0 device count. With DHCP Server Auto in Access Point mode it works, even if the server is actually off because DHCP server in use is the one of the main router. And that explains all the threads telling that a factory reset bring the list back until a reboot, because the default is DHCP Server On (or Auto for AP), then you change setting to Off, it still works, but next time it boots you get the missing list and 0 count.

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Re:Archer routers and the wireless client count and list (empty list, incomplete list, etc.)-Solution
2020-03-31 09:38:40 - last edited 2020-05-15 16:41:47

@Kevin_Z  @Carl Guys, I've found the empty client list bug!!!! :D Indeed it always has to do with access point mode or router mode working as access point, because... it happens only when DHCP Server is set to Off!!!

 

If DHCP Server is set to Off, the client list will be empty as soon as you reboot (at least for some users given the amount of threads).

If DHCP Server is set to On or Auto, the client list will be populated as expected (by ARP inspection, but it's pretty much accurate to generate a network map)

 

So it looks like DHCP Auto does more stuff than just setting the DHCP Server to On or Off depending on the network.

 

I have the list working again after many tries and pretty much all my testing lead to the DHCP set to Off causing the empty wired and wireless clients list, so ask your R&D team what does DHCP Server Off besides disabling the server. Guess it also disables that ARP inspecting used to generate the list of wired and wireless clients.

 

Best! 

 

P.D: I've even simulated a power outage and the list is still working. So it's definitely the DHCP Server Off setting that was causing the empty list and 0 device count. With DHCP Server Auto in Access Point mode it works, even if the server is actually off because DHCP server in use is the one of the main router. And that explains all the threads telling that a factory reset bring the list back until a reboot, because the default is DHCP Server On (or Auto for AP), then you change setting to Off, it still works, but next time it boots you get the missing list and 0 count.

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Re:Archer routers and the wireless client count and list (empty list, incomplete list, etc.)
2020-11-28 20:23:09

@mocelet Thanks for the info. solved problem here.

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Re:Archer routers and the empty client list (no devices shown in web or Tether app)
2021-11-12 17:09:49

 

Like many others with TP-Link routers I had the problem of an empty Client List (both wireless and wired) on my Archer VR2800. This was true when I logged in from my main PC, tablet, phone and another PC.

 

I tried all of the usual things (firmware upgrade, factory reset, DHCP off/on etc.).

 

Nothing seemed to solve the problem.

 

My Archer runs in DSL Router mode with two RE305 extenders (wire connected) running as Access Points in other areas of the house. I have just over twenty clients both wired and wireless.

 

I ended up disconnecting all Ethernet cables and switching off all devices with a wireless connection. I then turned on my tablet, connected wirelessly, logged into the router and could see the tablet on the client list. Turned on my phone and that appeared.

 

I then added devices one by one. When I plugged in the cable to my main PC the client list wasn’t available on the tablet. Disabled the Ethernet connection on the PC and the client list was again available on the tablet.

 

On the PC I went into the Ethernet connection (properties configure) and unchecked ‘Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power’ then ‘OK’.

 

Low and behold the Client List was now full both on PC and tablet.

 

I’ve no idea why the power management settings for the NIC would cause this. Must be something to do with it interfering with the ARP packets the Archer uses to populate the client list.

 

Hope this helps somebody with the same problem!

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Re:Archer routers and the wireless client count and list (empty list, incomplete list, etc.)
2022-03-20 11:15:40

  @mocelet: Nice piece of detective work!  This same TP-Link bug also affects the WA1201, and from reading the huge thread here it looks like it's endemic to all TP-Link products, if you disable DHCP then it won't display any wireless clients.  The instant you change DHCP from disabled to auto, the clients appear.  So it's nothing to do with ARP, it's a firmware bug where disabling DHCP also removes the ability to display which clients are connected.

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Re:Archer routers and the wireless client count and list (empty list, incomplete list, etc.)
2022-03-20 12:20:53

Been playing with this a bit and it's actually a can't-win situation: If you change DHCP from disabled to Automatic then the *&#$*# AP starts assigning IP addresses to (some) connected devices instead of allowing the router it's connected to to do it, effectively making them unusable on the network.  Just spent about an hour trying to debug a can't-occur situation until I figured out that the TP-Link AP was assigning (invalid) IP addresses via DHCP instead of letting the router do it.

 

So it looks like you need to reset DHCP to Automatic if it's been disabled, wait for devices to appear, then re-disable DHCP again and possibly restart any devices that have been assigned an invalid IP address by the AP so that they can grab a valid IP address from the router instead of the invalid one the AP has assigned.

 

And that every time a new device joins the network.  Given that this thread points out that TP-Link have been ignoring this bug for over three years now I'm tempted to RMA it as a faulty product.

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Re:Archer routers and the wireless client count and list (empty list, incomplete list, etc.)
2022-07-01 11:53:00 - last edited 2022-07-02 13:46:27

I would agree with most of these observations. But I would have to say that not all TP-Link devices are susceptive to this issue.

For example Archer C6 v2 has this issue for sure - confirmed in a few threads including the current one and my own one.

But in Archer C64 for example and other devices (mostly newer models) this has been fixed.

The DHCP "Auto" setting in question is actually the TP-Link's so called 'Smart DHCP' feature.

This feature is mostly used in REs, APs, wireless routers with AP mode implemented and Decos.

If you go through the description of the feature you would see that it is stated:

 

" In some cases, even if your TP-Link wireless device has connected to the front device with a DHCP server enabled, it may still think that there is no server in the network for whatever reason, and then it will turn on its own DHCP server. The clients will get IP addresses from it instead of the front device, which may cause the devices to be unable to access the front device’s network. In this case, you can manually turn off the Smart DHCP feature on your TP-Link device. ".

 

It's worth mentioning that this feature is not implemented in Archer C64 (when in AP mode) - it has an option just to enable or disable the DHCP server.

Also worth mentioning this thread related to the same matter.

Finally, I would agree that this should be fixed through a FW update.

 

 

 

 

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