Sunday, December 6, 2020

How to set up a better separate parental control network for your kids using the Synology RT1900ac router

Again, this is to set up a private, separate, controllable network to implement parental control for the kids, without affecting the main network.

First, don't do what I did here and use a Netgear with Circle built in.  The Synology is SO much better.

Very briefly: set the Synology in bridge mode, then set up Safe Access for parental control.


1.  Get an RT1900AC or other Synology router.

2.  Boot it up, go to

3.  Set it to Access Point mode.

4.  Give it a unique SSID.

5.  If you want, set it to a static IP address.

6.  Let it start up.  If you haven't already, plug it into your "first" router.

7.  Go to or the static ip:8000 to get to the web interface.

8.  Go to "Safe Access" and set up the profiles/settings you want.

9.  If you want, download the app "DS Router" for mobile management.

OK, I probably got the order wrong.  You get the idea.

Compared to using the Netgear, it's soooooo easy.  Everything works: logging, history, filtering, off times, bedtimes, the mobile app, everything.

And there's no subscription fees.  Unlike Circle.  It just works.

Surprisingly, the router started blocking illicit requests from my son's tablet.  It seems there is some hidden process that is trying to ping X-rated websites.  It wasn't him and I can't find any bad apps with Bitdefender, so it's either a bug in Synology (which I doubt) or some really sneaky nasty.  Circle never caught it.


-  Leaving tabs open on a PC will cause the PC to drain their time quota,  even if they're not actually using the PC.  The same doesn't happen for tablets or Chromebooks as they're battery-operated and a lot more frugal with their Wi-Fi usage.

-  Pausing the Internet will also cut off all access to everything upstream of the Synology access point, including any NAS devices.  So: no access to stored music, video, or files.  This could be a pro or a con, depending on your needs.

-  The Synology app supports pause, editing of filter level and time-based access, and rewards.  Pretty much just like Circle.

Regrettably, the Synology doesn't support renaming devices, and doesn't allow you to discover the MAC access of some devices directly, which makes setup harder than it needs to be.  These are the only areas where Circle has an edge, but it's not nearly enough to make Circle better.

You could also (obviously) use the Synology as your main router, in which case kids will have LAN/NAS access without having internet access.  

I didn't do this because I have a bunch of port forwarding already set up in my main router, had limited time, and plan to swap my main box for pfsense later.  Keeping the Synology as a parental support bridge made more sense.

But the RT1900ac looks like a very capable router - easily as good as the R7000 Nighthawk I already have.  I wouldn't be scared to swap the Synology in as my primary router.  

It even supports OpenVPN to allow PIA, NordVPN, ExpressVPN or whatever other service you prefer.  Parental controls AND OpenVPN client in a single box!

Ironically, the person who sold me the Synology has also had problems with Circle Gen 1.  So I'm not the only one.

Obviously I highly recommend the Synology routers over the Circle.


  1. Can you elaborate on step 7? What do you mean by "first" router? The modem?

  2. This post assumes you already have a router (your "first" router) and are adding the Synology to it as an access point.

    If your Synology is intended to be the main router, these steps would not apply.