As we add more traffic to our Wi-Fi networks in the office and at home, choosing the right router is critical for performance and security. If your router is more than a few years old, the combination of improved technology and the probable loss of full power due to wear and tear means you should consider investing in a new system. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune.
How do you know it’s time for a new router? The first sign is sluggish performance, and it’s a subjective call. Whether you use your router for business or home entertainment, you can notice that data just isn’t moving throughout your location as fast as you’d like. With today’s demands for moving more data faster, your router could be worn out or not have the capacity to meet your needs.
Routers do wear out over time. Heat can damage internal components, and that slows them down. Newer routers have fresher components, and they meet better performance protocols. This is especially true when it comes to dual-band routers. Older routers tend to operate on the 2.4 GHz wireless band, where they share space with your other household products, such as cordless phones and even your garage-door opener. That creates a lot of interference that affects network performance. This problem is more likely to affect home offices and small retail systems. In some homes, whether used for home offices or as converted office space, multiple stories and thicker walls require more powerful routers to send signals where needed.
Dual-band routers work on both the 2.4 and 5 GHz wireless bands, and that gives you options. You can set some systems to run on the 2.4 GHz band and use the 5GHz band for managing bigger data capacities. Some routers even allow you to run on two 5GHz bands. For a home office, a home with multiple devices (computers, mobile devices and smart TVs), a business in a converted home, or a small retail space, this allows you to dedicate bands to specific uses. Think of it as having a slow lane, an express lane, and a lane dedicated to buses and trucks.
For a home or small office or retail use, look for a router with at least four 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) Ethernet ports to connect wired devices such as desktop PCs, network-attached storage drives and home-automation hubs. A USB port makes it easy to plug in a printer or a USB drive and share it across the network, but with two ports you can do both.
You can manage how your Wi-Fi network is being used with parental controls, Quality of Service (QoS) options, and a guest-network feature. Parental controls and QoS are for home use. The latter helps you assign network priorities for applications and clients, such as downloading files, running printers or managing streaming to TVs or devices. You can also manage priorities for gaming systems.
A guest network for a home or business lets you create a separate network to offer Wi-Fi connectivity to guests without leaving your entire network vulnerable. This lets them connect to the Internet, but doesn’t give them access to your files, printers, and other connected devices.
Wireless routers for businesses have improved tremendously. To meet the complexity and requirements of running a wireless network these days, routers now have a much more varied feature set, including hardware that is often found in computers. You can find systems with dual- and triple-band connectivity, as well as a slew of other features usually found on far more expensive enterprise-grade models.
Priorities for business users differ from most consumer users. Security, support, remote access, business-grade VPN, WAN redundancy, connectivity options and scalability are critical. However, this doesn’t mean that some consumer routers cannot be used as business routers, especially in a home office environment.
We can help you find a router that meets your networking needs and help you find the best location and configurations to maximize performance. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to answer your questions about router selection and help you with setup and settings configurations.