Balance 20 - 8.1.0 - unstable

I have been running a balance 20 for years with zero issues. Since upgrading to 8.1.0 I am having significant problems. The CPU is often pegged - and when that happens I cannot get a response from the web interface. If a link goes down, the entire system freezes and I often need to power cycle it to get back into the web interface or even ping it. A check of the log shows the system restarting on its own a number of times and not bringing links back up.

Is this “just me”? I really like this router but I’m starting to think the newest software has overwhelmed the CPU capacity of the system. I don’t even use most features - is an upgrade to balance one my only option here?

There are multiple generations of the Balance 20. Which generation is yours? Also, what was the last firmware version that ran without problems?


Please open a ticket to allow support team to check.

Can you afford a Balance Two? Hardware specs are infinitely better!

The reboot function of the GUI gives me an option to reboot in to 8.0.2 build 3667 which i believe was the last version I was running and I did not have this issue. Unfortunately it doesn’t allow me to send TLS e-mail which is why I upgraded, but I am considering downgrading anyway.

I am hardware revision 6

Balance two is not an option.Balance one is more money than I want to spend. :wink:

I suggest rebooting to the prior firmware and running it a bit just to narrow down the problem to the new firmware and eliminating things like a power surge that fried something internal.

Yeah - i think i will try that. Thanks for the push. :wink:

Our experience is that while the B20 is a great box it tends to run out of resources rather quickly. The first places where you’ll notice it are CPU utilization and the behavior of the UI. The GUI will likely return in time but not until the higher priority functions are dealt with.

As @AskTim suggested, the Balance Two would be a good-step-up, as would be the B One Core. Another alternative would be the Balance 20X – which, as a PrimeCare device, offers a lot of “bang for the buck.” This router costs roughly what a Balance One Core does but the feature set is vastly superior. In my view you’d generally be “ahead” even if you do not care to use the built-in Cat4 modem. It’s a superior value.

If you opened a ticket please report back and tell us what @sitloongs says. :thinking:

I have opened a support case and uploaded a diagnostic log.

I am stable since reverting to 8.0.2.

Balance 20x seems like an interesting router - i would never use the wifi or the cellular connection though. Does it have more memory/cpu than the regular balance 20? (rev 6)

I have a lot of configuration on my balance 20 with reserved DHCP and local DNS entries. I’m curious if any of my hardware upgrade paths would allow me to save the config from the balance 20 and load it on a newer peplink?

Your comment about the improvement seen when reverting to 8.0.2 is very illuminating. Thanks for sharing.

The B20X is a waaaay different and much newer design than the B20. (I’d probably have given it a very different name also.) While the B20 may look cool there in its steel case, and perhaps rack mounted, the 20X is greatly more capable. Check out the specs shown on the Balance comparison page on the Peplink web site. (If you can’t find it I’ll get you the link.) Peplink does not share much in the way of technical details e.g., CPU and RAM but I’d place a strong bet there is a huge different between these two routers. The specs really tell it all.

Config conversion: While someone at “Peplink HQ” may correct me on this, I am quite certain there is no means to convert between the two – either direction. And, in that I’d feel your pain. I can’t tell you how may hours we’ve spent doing manual conversions during upgrades – and how many errors we later had to correct because some parameter was fat-fingered or omitted. And, unfortunately, I do not see any initiative within Peplink to further develop their conversion utilities. (I hope I am sadly wrong on that.)

It’s too bad there is not a way to convert configs. Frankly, it would make upgrading to another peplink product a no brainer. If i have to do it all by hand then that opens the door to other vendors. IMO. Thanks for all the info.

Hi again. I can’t argue with that view. Peplink is “missing the boat” in this regard. Period.

Partners: Am I all alone in wanting this?

I feel your pain. Let me relay your message to the engineering team. Thank you.

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Peplink tech support just told me that I might “want to upgrade to a better device” for my network because I have about 60 devices that are attached.

They didn’t specify which brand or model they thought would be better.

I am still stable at 8.0.2 - so i guess that 8.1.0 is too much software for the hardware in my B20 - even though i do not use most of the features, and really none of the new ones.


60 devices is quite a number for a Balance 20. It’s easy to tell someone else they need to spend some more $$ but in this case it’s likely warranted. My guess is you’ve run out of system resources, mostly CPU and memory.

Well, the next “step up” is the Balance One (two variants – with and w/o wi-fi) and possibly the Balance 20X. A guess as to why a recommendation was not made? Hopefully that would come up during a conversation between yourself and your favorite Peplink Partner. But there is a good table which compares the various models here. Just a note: You’d find a move-up to either the B One or 20X to be significant vis-a-vis the speed at which hings “happen” – including the snappiness of the GUI.

Looking at the table you provided (thanks) they say 1-60 “users”. I have 2 “users”, and most of the 60 devices I have are generally doing nothing but getting an IP from DHCP - many are specifically blocked from using the internet at all. I am surprised that obtaining an IP via DHCP takes much in the way of resources, but apparently when they say “60 users” that also means “60 devices requesting DHCP addresses”. I have asked for clarification on this - but that seems to be the message from support.

Among most other things that router does, I am not using vlans, failover, vpn, speed fusion, or AP management, and have about 50Mbps throughput on the internet. I’m surprised and disappointed that handing out 60 DHCP addresses overloads this router on 8.1.0. Also interesting that if I want to go beyond “60 users” that I am pointed to a Balance Two which is a $1000 device. Yikes.

Honestly, I think I’d probably try the $60 tp_link first. But for now, I will just live without e-mail from the B20 with version 8.0.2 - hopefully this doesn’t expose me to a security issue. :slight_smile:

Footnote on the comparison chart states:

Recommendation for sizing purposes only. No software restrictions applied.

I doubt the issue is around DHCP, unless of course you have more than 255 devices :wink: on the same subnet at any given time.

I think where you’d run into issues with many “Active” users is regarding router throughput… say 30 active users watching Youtube or Netflix, or others running iOS update, Windows OS updates etc… could eat up your router throughput, but then your internet connection would max out before then anyways.

The B20 throughput is 150mbps vs 900 on the B20x. Strange that they recommend the same number of “users” though.

I have a B20x with an internet connection of 150mbps running on latest firmware and having some issues with WIFI dropping out and router no longer handing out IPs. Status lights on the B20x remain green, no faults. Only way out is to hard reboot the router. And I only have about 15-20 devices on my network. I do have a few vlans, some F/W rules and content blocking, but nothing crazy.

I’m thinking there is something with 8.1.0 FW… but so far support has found nothing. Theyve had remote logging enabled for the past few days and i sent them a diag report when the last crash happened, but nothing yet. :frowning:

If I look at my client list I would say that “normally” no more than 10 devices are simultaneously accessing the internet and there are only 2 people living in my house. My internet connection is capped at 50Mbps. Sometimes it still goes to 60, but that shouldn’t touch the limits of this router.

I think there is pretty clearly an issue with 8.1.0 that has not been discovered or made public yet by peplink. I’ll be watching for firmware upgrades and checking the changelog for bugs that fix things like “non-responding UI” and maybe will try to upgrade again when that happens. I have seen the same type of issues that you have seen with 8.1.0 and they all went away when I reverted to 8.0.2.

I had similar woes with my Balance 30, so I can only imagine what it is like with the Balance 20. One thing that did help tremendously for me was to put a gigabit switch in front of the Balance. If you can keep LAN->LAN transfers outside of the router – it helps.

It sounds like you have this thing doing more than just DHCP. Inferring from your post, it looks like you are using the firewall to limit access to the internet for some devices, you are using the internal DNS server for custom DNS entries, and it is all on one untagged Lan. You never mentioned how many WAN links you are using - but, I would assume that it is more than one.

Some of those IoT devices (assumption) can be very chatty with multicast “discovery” traffic. Maintaining large multicast groups can also be taxing on routers.

Another option (one I used until I replaced my Balance 30) was to put a cheaper BestBuy router in between the Peplink and the LAN devices. Basically, you use the Balance to manage the WAN links and routing, and you let the “other” router manage the LAN devices. You have to deal with double NAT potentially, and another potential point of failure – but, it saves a few dollars. If you find a router with IP-Passthrough, you can use all the load balancing algorithms, if not – you are kind of stuck with destination based routing since the Balance will only ever see the IP of the intermediate router.

Free advice – skip on the TP-Link multi Wan router – it is a hunk of hot garbage. I had one for a year and was waiting for some firmware to make it useful enough to actually use. They still have not released firmware for it. None of the UPnP stuff works at all and it requires a reboot to clear any forwarders that are there. In fact, rebooting is the ONLY way to get that hunk of garbage to do anything. I still have it in a box – I would gladly give it to you – but, I am pretty sure you would give it back.

For what it is worth, The Balance One Core is a great unit. No issues from me for over 2 years and I have a similar number of devices and use a very similar feature set as you. Expensive, yes; but it does do the job very well and uses a UI/rationale that you are already familiar with. There is value in just getting it going and letting it do what it does.


This is all really great advice - thanks a lot for the post.