Business Router 101

What Is a Router?

A router is what is used to direct information from the network to the internet, and vice versa. Routers come in many different types, with the most common difference being whether it is a wireless or wired router.

Wired routers are the less common, older types. They are losing popularity due to the increased demand for wireless routers. They are connected to your computer using cables, unlike wireless routers, which are connected through wireless internet. This means much more mobility, because once the router is plugged into the network, it can be placed anywhere in your work space (within a reasonable distance, depending on your router’s abilities) and can be connected to using not only computers, but also tablets, laptops, and smartphones.

Another common distinction between routers is business or residential.

Routers can also be helpful in security. They have the ability to protect critical information, which is why it is so important to choose the appropriate security settings during installation and to keep them up-to-date. While some routers only have a basic firewall, some are more advanced.

For these reasons, it is important nowadays for every business to be equipped with a quality router, as it is a key to better work and entertainment quality.

Difference between Residential and Business Routers

On average most people can’t tell the difference between residential and business routers, while in truth, there are some distinctions that set the two categories apart.

First of all, residential routers provide services in a smaller radius. An average home router covers the standard apartment and house sizes. Larger homes, with multiple stories, however, require an additional extender or even an additional router.  On top of this, residential routers are also designed for video/movie streaming, online gaming, and internet usage. They are also mostly wireless, due to the number of smartphones, wireless speakers, tablets, etc, used by people.

A business router, however, is designed for office use. They tend to have better security, quality, and customization.

On the of the firewall, which is found in residential routers as well, business routers also have options for Virtual Private Network (VPN). They are also, usually, built with better quality parts, decreasing the need for frequent replacements. Business routers tend to offer more customization as well, through options like Quality of Service (QoS) and Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs).

While a residential router might work for a home office or a small-scale business, they don’t provide advanced features, security, or support Voice over IP (VoIP). For these reasons, we recommend using business routers for business needs, regardless of your business’ size.

Business Router Features

When you decide to pick a business router, you have to make sure it is one that fits your needs. These following specs factor in greatly to routers’ performances.

Ports

All routers contain some ports on their backs. Some are present on every router, some are not. Before investing in a router, you should make sure that your preferred option contains the ports that you need the most.

LAN (or Ethernet) ports enable you to plug your computer and other devices into the router for access to the internet. A USB port is useful for devices not having LAN ports, like printers. A USB port can also be used to share data over Wi-Fi or an external hardware.

Speed

Speed is a key factor in routers. There are two important speed categories: the speed of your internet connection and your router’s speed. The speed of your internet is defined by your internet provider, indicated by a number followed by “Mbps”. Your router’s speed is just important. It decides whether your router can keep up with your plan or not. It doesn’t matter how fast an internet connection is if you do not have the router to support it.

Range

Range is the radius in which your router works effectively.  Small offices may make due with one router, but larger spaces or offices require a larger, more advanced system to be effective.

Dual- or tri-bands

Dual-band routers offer one or more frequencies on which your networks run on. These frequencies are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Routers which are dual-band switch in-between the two frequencies depending on speed and congestion.

Tri-band routers offer the same type of frequencies, but they have one 2.4 GHz band and two 5 GHz bands, allowing for faster connection in case of multiple devices using the network.

Gigabit support

Gigabit internet is on the rise. In case you are purchasing a new router, keep in mind that routers equipped with a “802.11ac protocol” support gigabit internet.

In case of using a fiber connection, gigabit support is crucial to ensure that your internet speed is fast enough. Wi-Fi protocols, however, still make sense even if you don’t have gigabit internet. This is due to the use of beamforming, which points routers wireless signals in the direction of your devices, providing better range and a stronger signal.

Quality of Service (QoS)

While you are aware what your priorities in internet usage are, you router is not. With QoS, you can make sure you and the router prioritize the same activities. You can even prioritize users and devices.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

VPNs are a feature that makes business routers worth it. VPNs creates a secure connection for all devices on the network.

A VPN is also available for users without a VPN router, but it must be separately installed on devices. A VPN router, however, doesn’t require any software. VPN routers provide a private network which encrypts all traffic through a VPN server, better protecting sensitive information.

Further Information to Note When Buying a Router

Router Costs

The cost is mostly defined by the features a router has. The costs range from ~$50 to ~$300-$400, depending whether you are looking for a basic router or one with more advanced features.  You can also lease routers from your internet provider usually, for a monthly rate.

Routers Provided by Internet Service Providers

Most providers offer equipment like modems and routers, with some even requiring you to use their equipment. The three ways to get a business router from your provider are renting, leasing, and purchasing.

While there are advantages to using the equipment provided by your service provider, there is no guarantee that it will be able to properly handle your individual needs.  To be sure that your router is right-sized, contact your IT department or your third-party IT consultant, like Vistanet, for recommendations.

Business Router Lifespan

Business routers can have lifespans of several years, depending the quality and your usage. A good way to make sure your internet is up to par is to plan a replacement for your router every couple of years.

Cleaning and updating your router on a regular basis is just as important.

 

Having the right router is an absolute priority and one of the most important investments for your office network. Picking the right one can help you to get the most out of what you are paying for.