Cannot select or enter country while setting up a new Synology RT2600ac router

The Synology RT2600ac router is, in my opinion, very good. That said, there’s a chance you may encounter a show-stopping issue when setting up a new one. On the 2nd setup screen, you might see a field for Country. It looks like a drop down, but it has no options. Manually typing a country name doesn’t work, either.

Screenshot of useless Country input

Worry not. You don’t need to return it. We can fix this by doing a factory reset.

Yes, a factory reset on a device you presumably… just got from the factory. I know.

Grab a paper clip (or something similarly small and poke-ey) and do this:

  1. Make sure the router is on.
  2. Find the RESET button on the back. Poke it with your clip or other poker, and hold for at least 10 seconds. You’ll see the LEDs on the front flash as if the router were rebooting. That’s because it’s rebooting.
  3. Don’t panic while it takes several minutes to come back up.
  4. Try the setup again.

When you get to the 2nd screen, the Country field should be completely gone, and you’ll be able to proceed.
Huzzah.

Configure TP-LINK Archer C9 (or C7, C8) for access point mode

Some call it “bridge” mode. The point is you want your TP-LINK to play nice with another router from which your internet actually flows. Like if you have a fiber/DSL/psychic router you can’t replace because ISP reasons but you want some wifi that doesn’t totally suck. For example.

The reason this can be confusing with the Archer series is that many other routers have a setting like “AP mode” that you turn on and you’re done. Or Their WAN (a.k.a “internet”) port can be used for this job. While it’s a nice piece of router, the Archer doesn’t make it clear how to do this. And you may be dealing with/swearing at messages like “WAN and LAN cannot be on the same subnet”.

Anyway, let’s kick this pig! (Translated: “Let’s do this.”) I’ll just start from the top. You can skip ahead if you’ve already done any/some of these.

1. Don’t connect it to your main router yet

Just plug it in and hit the On switch.

2. Log on to that mess

Connect your computer to it with an Ethernet cable, OR hop on one of its default SSIDs it will start broadcasting automagically. (TP-LINK-XXXX).

With that done, head on over to http://192.168.0.1. The default login is “admin” for both username and password. Change that later. Do it.

3. Completely ignore the rest of the quick installation guide

Woman tossing a quick start guide instead of a flower boquet
Toss that thing. Or save it for later. Whichever.

4. Set a static IP address

We need your TP-LINK to have a different IP than your internets-providing router, which may likely also be using 192.168.0.1. We don’t want them arguing with each other. This can be whatever you want, so long as it doesn’t conflict with anything else on your network. I usually go with 192.168.0.254.

Visual guide for what to do here.
Ignore “WAN” completely.

5. Disable DHCP

Your other router will be on DHCP duty, so the TP-LINK shouldn’t bother.

DHCP

6. Other stuff

Change the SSID names and turn on WPA2 security. And change the router login (under Settings > Password and not under Security like you’re very reasonably assuming).

7. Hook it up

Plug the Archer in to your main router, Ethernet-cable-style. Do NOT use the TP-LINK’s WAN port. Use any of the other four.

8. Dance

Because you’re done now.

Wheezy Waiter a.k.a. Craig Benzine dancing