When you’re setting up or updating a business computer network, the router is one of the foundational elements. Whether you’re buying new or purchasing used networking equipment, you’ll need to heavily consider the router that’ll be the best fit for the needs of your business, and the following are things to help make the decision.
What Is the Role of the Router?
A router can be used in a home network or a business network, and it’s essentially a piece of hardware that allows for communication between devices, such as computers and the internet. A router is what protects your network from any outside intrusion.
Routers connect to a modem, such as a fiber or cable modem, and then to other devices allowing for communication between them and the internet. There are wired and wireless routers.
A router can connect physically to a modem through a network cable, or a wireless router can be setup.
When routers have multiple connections, they can serve as switches as well so that the devices on the network can communicate with one another. As an example, devices on a business network might not just include computers, but also printers and files can be shared too.
How Are Business Routers Different From Consumer Routers?
A consumer router is what you use at home, or perhaps in a very small business. A basic home router will usually be wireless and may include a modem. Home routers usually have four Ethernet ports, and they may have USB connectivity.
Home routers will also have a basic firewall.
Business routers, on the other hand, are usually considered integrated service devices. This means that within one device, they provide network, application and security services. Business routers can also provide a virtual private network (VPN) access for employees and clients who are accessing the network remotely.
A business router is different from a home router in that it’s very configurable, and there are a lot of advanced options for how connected devices are managed.
Cisco is one of the leading providers of high-end business routers, and they require the use of switches to connect devices, and separate devices are needed for the creation of wireless access points.
With a business router, it’s an investment because you’re likely going to be using that equipment for years to come. Business routers are specifically designed to offer a high performance level within a complex network.
Home routers are focused on connectivity and access, as well as ease of use.
Features to Look for In A Business Router
When choosing a business router, you’ll look for certain features which include:
- Ports: The importance of ports and which ports you need depend a lot on your particular business. LAN ports allow the other devices in your office to plug into the router and access the internet as do ethernet ports. If you have a printer without wireless functionality, you might want a USB port.
- Speed: With the business internet, there are two main areas of speed to think about. One is your internet connection speed, and the other is your router speed. Even if you have the fastest available internet connection, if your router isn’t fast enough, you’ll experience a slowdown.
- Range: If there isn’t enough coverage for your office, then your router is essentially useless. Depending on the size and layout of your office, you might be able to use one router, but in larger offices or locations where there are a lot of walls or obstructions, you may need more than one.
- VPN: VPN support is considered an advanced feature of a business router. If you have a VPN router, it gives you a secure connection for all the devices that are part of your network. If you don’t have a VPN router, you need to install VPN software on your device. A VPN server has the unique advantage of encrypting traffic.
A few other things—the cost of a router depends significantly on the features you choose. You can spend thousands of dollars on an advanced business router system, which is why some businesses will go with a used option. A business router may have a lifespan of several years, but for you to get that out of it, you need to choose a quality product from the start.
If you already have a router, but you’re noticing that it’s efficiency is on the decline, it may be time to consider upgrading.