I am trying to find a reliable and most cost effective wireless router. I am not sure if I should go with G or N... Please advise... I don't know if a N router is needed. All my laptops didn't come with N compatible USB or built in adapter.
1) I want to be able connect an external hard drive so that I can share with other laptops
2) Provide best connection for Playstation3 for intense online gaming.
3) Strong enough to stream large video files to any laptop (minimum freezing)
Please let me know what my options are from low to high ($)
N promises faster throughput -- but only if you have N wireless adapters too. If you go with that better to have adapter and router same brand.
I suspect you'll find the Playstation is slightly old fashioned in spec so check that it supports N before spending extra.
Generally you can get away with any brand because most actually use the same chipsets.
But for support you need a brand which has the facilities and is likely to be around in future. Most people go for Netgear/Linksys/D-Link -- personally I like Netgear because they have a good support forum.
I have the NetGear WDNR3700 which my local Staple's has for $149
This is a Dual-Band N router which also supports A, B & G.
Usually sells for about $169 or more elsewhere unless you get it on sale.
It does have a USB port and a built in DNLA server, but I do not advise using this feature and keeping it disabled as there are too many problem with this feature.
As long as you keep the DNLA and FTP servers disabled, you should have no problems with this router, just remember to secure the router properly.
WPA2-PSK[AES] is recommended. Do not use TKIP as earlier this year it was discovered that TKIP could allow wireless to easily be cracked within seconds cause of the way TKIP works.
One other thing, if you do get the WDNR3700, do not update the firmware until they settle on a reasonable updated firmware. Currently, the beta firmwares are being influenced by too many demands by those not really understanding why the problems they are encountering are happening. I have included an explanation below on this aspect.
With D-Link, their support service has been going downhill which you can find out for yourself by visiting their forums. D-Link Support Forums. The DGL-4500 has been one of their biggest problem units to date. I used to own one and after well over a year, I gave it away once I was able to get my hands on the NetGear WDNR3700.
As to sharing a hard drive, you can just connect it to your desktop system on your network, then in
Windows Explorer, right click on the drive > Properties > Sharing tab > Advanced Sharing button > select the Share this folder box.
This will give permission to everyone to access what is on the drive. Now if you want to take things one step further such as giving everyone permission to write to the drive, then select the Permissions Button and under the add button, select the Full Control box. This will give everyone read/write permissions.
Routers have a limited amount of memory and the firmware is nothing more than a custom Linux OS with drivers and software modules all packaged and installed to the firmware chip.
The reason most people are encountering problems with DNLA and ftp with this router and other routers is when you add a hard drive to the USB port and there are lots of files to be indexed, this uses lots of memory. Again, routers have a very limited amount of memory.
Where as NAS units (Network Area Storage) are designed so that they have additional functions added into the firmware. These functions require that the hard drive/s be connected to the unit first and unless they were already prepared correctly, they must be partitioned by the NAS unit before any files can be added to them.
NAS partitions created will be the main partition and two hidden partitions. The hidden partition serves as a swap partition (virtual memory) and the other hidden partition serves for configuration information and media indexing and such.
This is how NAS units overcome the problems that are currently being experienced with routers which have built in ftp and media servers. Now if D-Link and other companies would add these NAS functions currently only found in their stand alone NAS units, to their routers such as the WDNR3700, then this would solve the majority of USB problems being experienced.
I'm fairly sure there are a few models out there which do have NAS features included in the router, but I do not recall which brands or models those are and I do not know if those models included the NAS functions for the hidden partitions necessary to function correctly.