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March 27, 2006

AirPort Express and Voodoo

Okay, I have to clear this up because a myth has been propagating for far too long.

Some people are experiencing their AirPort Express base stations simply disappearing off the face of the earth when they go to use them, particularly in the later firmware revisions. I am among them.

Somewhere along the line, someone made a crazy jump of logic that the Express' DHCP client was the problem, because changing their Express to use a fixed IP address instead of a dynamic one fixed things. It just snowballed from there, with countless other Express owners experiencing no further problems after trying it, generating credence for the myth. I hate to break it to the DHCP Voodoo crowd, who are positively certain that it's assigning a static IP that fixed all their problems, but that's not the case.

The actual problem is not with the DHCP client, but with signal interference.

The reason your AirPort Express suddenly stopped dropping out is only tangentially related to DHCP.

Every AirPort Express unit ships in "Automatic" channel selection mode. Every time the Express is rebooted, it scans for competing base stations and selects the best possible channel. When you change any settings, the Express reboots. Ergo, after you selected fixed addressing and hit the Update button, the AirPort Express rebooted found a new, interference-free channel.

If someone sets up a new base station within range of yours, or someone's cordless phone happens to use your channel, your Express will still go tits-up regardless of whether or not it's using DHCP.

Posted by Colin at March 27, 2006 12:32 PM

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