Monday, July 07, 2014

How to Choose a Router for Your Business

If you are purchasing a router for your business, you need to think more because a router for a business isn't as simple as picking a consumer product. Your company might has special or serious network needs, such as number of users, security, locking down company data ...etc.

Before you go to a retailer store and shop around for your router, you need to understand your requirements, types of equipment available, as well as typical uses and features. This blog will talk about the type of routers, Ethernet considerations, Wi-Fi considerations, remote server considerations, network separations and File shares.

Types of Routers:
A general rule of thumb in networking says that 802.11b/g/n and devices support a range of up to 150 feet(46 m) indoors and 300 feet (92 m) outdoors (1500 to 2000 square-foot). Another rule of thumb is that the effective range of 802.11a is approximately 1/3 of 802.11b/g/n. Obstructions such as brick walls and metal frames or siding greatly can reduce the range of Wi-Fi network by 25%. 5GHz Wi-Fi connections like 802.11a are more susceptible to obstructions than 2.4 GHz connections.

If you need to support only a dozen PCs and Wi-Fi devices at the most, a simple consumer or small-business router should do. Like I mentioned earlier, these routers will provide Wi-Fi coverage for a 1500 - 2000 squarw foot, two story office space. Normally a consumer router will have 4 ethernet ports. The PCMAG ( has a nice article about "The 10 Best Wireless Routers" (,2817,2398080,00.asp).

If your office has a large space and you have 30+ PCs and WiFi devices to cover, you'd better go for a business router. If Cisco 1941W is over the budget, I would recommend "SONICWALL 01-SSC-4892 TZ 205 Wireless-N Hardware" (

VPN router/firewall: 
These routers is a step up from basic wireless router, can be wireless or ethernet-only. They have an integrated virtual private network server, and sometimes offer advanced features such as VLAN support and multiple SSIDs. For example, D-Link VPN Router (DSR-150)

UTM (unified thread management) gateway or firewall: 
These routers include advanced features and usually are ethernet-only, they require separate access point for Wi-Fi connectivity. In addition to serving as your router and Internet gateway, as well as providing a VPN server and firewall, these units typically also include virus and malware protection, content filtering, antispam functions, and intrusion detection and prevention.

Wi-Fi considerations
You might notice that different wireless standards each have varying maximum speeds. You should at least go for 802.11n. If you have close neighbors, consider a dual-band router or access point that also works in the 5GHz frequency band, which provides you more choices.

Multiple SSIDs:
Multiple SSIDs is a wireless variant of a VLAN. You can crate multiple network names to broadcast from a single access point or wireless router.

Security: If your business has more than a dozen PCs, you should consider using enterprise-class Wi-Fi security (WPA or WPA2 with 802.1X), which lets you create a unique uername and password for each user that connects with Wi-Fi. The personal or pre-shared key (PSK) mode of WPA or WPA2 is easier to set up than the enterprise mode, but it isn’t ideal for business networks. Personal mode lets you create only a single password for the Wi-Fi network, which becomes an issue if a laptop or smartphone is stolen.

Ethernet considerations
Ethernet speed: Supports 1000Mbps
Switch capacity: You should consider the toal maximum simutaneous bandwidth supported.
Dual or Backup WAN: If internet connection is crucial, you should consider a second WAN port on your router for failover or load balancing.
DMZ port: If you have a server or another device that needs direct access to the Internet, consider a router, gateway, or firewall that has a dedicated DMZ port.

VLAN considerations
Most business-class networking gear supports VLANs, which allow you to create multiple separate virtual networks inside a single network. You can create private VLAN for your private network and public VLAN for guest access; this kind of configuration prevents the guests from connecting to your computer or snooping on your traffic.

File/Printer sharing
Some premium consumer-level wireless routers have a USB port which allows you to plug in a USB flash drive to share files on the network. This also provides a central storage location and doesn't require a certain PC to remian powered on. Business-class routers, gateways, and firewalls usually don’t have USB ports. You need to purchase a network attached storgae device for file sharing.

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