I have had problems with random modem freezes in which the Wi-Fi signal continues to work and all modem lights blink as normal, but the internet signal is lost. My internet provider reset the modem remotely, upgraded the firmware, physically checked the wiring, and even installed a new modem, but the problem continued. In each case, unplugging the power cord and then plugging it back in seemed to solve the problem ... until the next time.
I knew there had to be a simpler way — and I finally found one. The genre is called "remote reboot switches," and it's a narrow market sector with only a few offerings. Those offerings are not necessarily comparable, as not all offer all the features discussed here. They can be ideal for users who periodically must manually power cycle their router to regain internet connectivity, as well as for IT professionals who need to automatically or remotely reset devices. In addition to resetting networks and devices, you can use remote reboot switches to create an automatic power schedule for your network or to prevent the connection from timing out or going dormant.
After significant research, I settled on the ezOutlet2 ($75.99 on Amazon). It's an internet-enabled internet protocol (IP) remote power switch with an automatic reboot feature.
This outlet adapter reboots my hardware for me. It's a critical tool when I'm away from home and need to connect to my video surveillance or manage some part of my home automation. If my internet isn't up, I can't access those services. I used to have to ask a neighbor to go to my house and reset my modem and router. Now, the ezOutlet2 detects and solves my "problem" before I even know about it!
This switch worked perfectly out of the box. Plug the device into an outlet and then plug your Wi-Fi router and modem into the device. It further connects by ethernet to your router and is designed to automatically check if the network connection is online. When it detects a problem, the switch automatically cycles power to your router and modem until the internet returns. Because it constantly watches your internet connection, it allows you to monitor your network's status from anywhere. The device can reboot the connected equipment on demand, on a schedule, or automatically when the internet connection fails. It uses a cloud-based management site or a smartphone app to remotely turn on, turn off, or reset the outlet. Both the site and the app provide for management of multiple devices. I labeled my ezOutlet2 as "LaFolletteRouter," and the app added its unique identifier. I found the setup to be easy — I read the one-page instruction sheet, and the switch was up and running in a couple of minutes. I set my config to auto reboot at 2 a.m. every day. After installation, I tested it by physically disconnecting my internet modem. The switch rebooted as expected.
The ezOutlet2 is manufactured by Mega System Technologies.
Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA, is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Jeff Drew, a JofA senior editor, at Jeff.Drew@aicpa-cima.com.