Resolve an iChat login issue with certain Netgear routers

Jan 28, '09 07:30:00AM

Contributed by: robg

A few months back, I replaced my FIOS router when the Verizon-provided model died one day. The replacement worked OK, except for an annoying issue with DNS: every so often, seemingly randomly, my Macs would cease to load any web pages, just sitting there with a "looking for macosxhints.com" message. Clearly, there was some sort of DNS problem, but it had me stumped. It didn't matter if I set the DNS on the Mac or on the router, nor which DNS I told it to use. After a few minutes of not working, DNS would magically begin working again, for some other random period of time. (I'm not going to list the router I used, as I'm not sure it's a general problem with this brand; it may be something peculiar to my setup.)

Finally sick of trying to solve this problem, I replaced the router with a Netgear WNR3500 Gigagbit Router (about $105 at various places). Once connected, the DNS issues were gone (and the admin interface is a marked improvement over the router it replaced). However, I then had a new problem: I couldn't reliably login to iChat (using a MobileMe AIM account). Sometimes it would work, but more often than not, it would connect then disconnect rapidly, leading to a message from AIM stating I'd attempted to login too many times, and I'd have to wait a while before trying again.

After much searching, I stumbled upon this thread in the MacRumors Forums, which contained a simple solution: change the AIM server port (in iChat's preferences) to 443, the port for https connections. Make sure you're logged out of iChat, then go to Accounts » Server Settings, and just change the port from whatever it is (5190) to 443, then close iChat's preferences. (You'll need to make this same change on any Mac on your network, of course.)

I'm not sure what's going on with the Netgear and the default port; it may be related to some of the firewall features in the router, but I really don't know. In any event, this change fixed the problem -- iChat is now fully functional. I don't know if other Netgear routers have this same problem, but if they do, try using the https port for iChat for a simple fix.

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