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Small Business Network Router

Last response: in Networking
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November 30, 2012 6:09:43 PM

Hey guys,

I'm currently working for a small business and we are looking to upgrade our router. I've been put in charge and am seeking some guidance.

We generally have 4-5 computers on our network, all connected via ethernet, as well as a big business printer, and our office server. One employee works from home, however remotely logs in to her computer in the office via gotomypc.

Our current setup is simple, modem>router>switch>devices. We have a cheapo, 2-3 year old d-link 4 port 10/100 router.

Our problem is our internet often bogs down, to the point that you can't load two pages simultaneously while working, which is a big issue as a lot of the job involves internet use. Upon rebooting the system, it seems the problems go away for maybe a day or two before it slows back down.

Like I said, my boss has put me in charge, though I have little to no knowledge of networking at the business level. She has given me up to a $1000 budget to select a new router for the office. I feel a low-end business class router or high end residential router costing ~$250 could fulfill our needs, however I'm sure you all or much more knowledgable than I.

Our goal for the router is to select a router that will perform at a high level for years to come so that as we upgrade computers/printers/servers, the router will not be left behind.

I have been looking around, and i feel the main things that we would need in a router are fairly high RAM/Flash memory, IpV6 support, 802.11ac and gigabit ports, as well as RADIUS security.

I don't believe many of the intricacies that come with high-end business networking are necessary for our application.

Also, if we were to introduce a wireless router, rather than our simple wired router, would the system still work the same as far as our network printer and server access? Or should we leave our computers as wired connections, using the wireless solely for our iPads, etc?

Any and all advice is valuable. Sorry for the long post, just wanted to be as detailed as possible to get the best advice I can.

Thanks
Zac
November 30, 2012 10:59:17 PM

For this size of network you can use a standard wireless router as your primary and have plenty of performance I think. A Linksys E2500 or greater would offer you the capabilities of a small business router for a basic business network.

I'd also recommend replacing that basic d-link switch with a decent gigabit switch, something like a 16-port unmanaged switch, to give you the performance, quality, and room to expand in the future.

The problem you are probably having with slow internet speeds probably has nothing to do with your actual equipment, though, and more likely has to do with your actual network internet connection. Either your ISP plan is currently too slow to meet your needs, or there may be some connectivity or signal quality issues that are causing you problems.
November 30, 2012 11:45:04 PM

I will have to mostly agree with the above post your problem is likely not going to be fixed by spending lots of money on a router.

First to understand some of your requirements.

IPv6. Does your company have IP6 addresses assigned from the ISP. Do you even use them for your internal machines. Unless you have a reason ...like you are developing software.... this is just marketing hype.

802.11ac. Does all your end user equipment already support AC. Just like G and N it does no good to spend money for fancy N routers that have mimo and wide band channels if you have G adapters. You need to be careful about buying AC equipment the standard is a year away so there are small compatibility issues between vendors. You would really have to replace all the adapters on all your equipment from a single vendor to really ensure it works. Of course you will have to wait until apple decides to sell you a new ipad that supports 802.11ac.

Radius support. Do you plan to use WPA2 in enterprise mode and does all your end equipment support this option.

You very first step should be to monitor the internet connection and determine if you have exceeded the bandwidth. Make sure you have the very latest firmware for the router, there are many bugs that cause slowness issues. Older routers actually tend to be more stable because they have had time to find the bugs and patch them.

You really should be able to use any $100 router. Stay with wired connections if at all possible. Wireless bandwidth is shared and only so much exists so you want to share it between as few devices as possible.

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December 1, 2012 12:12:08 AM

choucove said:


I'd also recommend replacing that basic d-link switch with a decent gigabit switch, something like a 16-port unmanaged switch, to give you the performance, quality, and room to expand in the future.

Either your ISP plan is currently too slow to meet your needs, or there may be some connectivity or signal quality issues that are causing you problems


Thanks for the reply choucove!

I may not have been clear, we have an old d-link router ($30) and a new gigabit 16-port unmanaged switch.

Also, we have Cox Communications for our ISP and I forget the exact bandwidth, but I know we have one of their business class packages that is 20-30 Mbps. We've had cox out and they show good signal strength to the modem and very close to the advertised speed.

We've replaced the modem, have the newer switch, and have had our old Ethernet cables in the office replaced within the last year so we're fairly certain the router is the weakest link.

I don't know much about routers, and I don't know what purpose ram and flash have in a router, but I do know that our router only has 8mb of ram and 1mb of flash, which seams like awfully little.
December 1, 2012 12:26:57 AM

john-b691 said:


IPv6. Does your company have IP6 addresses assigned from the ISP. Do you even use them for your internal machines. Unless you have a reason ...like you are developing software.... this is just marketing hype.

802.11ac. Does all your end user equipment already support AC.

Radius support. Do you plan to use WPA2 in enterprise mode and does all your end equipment support this option.



You really should be able to use any $100 router. Stay with wired connections if at all possible. Wireless bandwidth is shared and only so much exists so you want to share it between as few devices as possible.


John, thanks for the response,

As for IP6, currently we do not, however we do maintain a website and write some scripts for our website.

Same answer for 11ac. Currently, no. My boss wants to purchase a router that will be good for the next 5 years or so, and we will be replacing all of the computes in 2 years, so she wants to purchase a router that will cater to the abilities of machines in the future.

As for Wpa enterprise, again, not all of our equipment supports it, however we will be moving towards it. We work with confidential documents on our network, so the highest level of security we can have is always a plus.

I will discuss our wireless necessity with her. I don't feel like .11ac is necessary, but she doesn't like wires. I feel if we leave all devices as wired, it is more secure than wireless, and a simple g or n router would be fine for wireless to iPads, etc.. I don't know what article she read to have her hell bent on spending 500-1000 on a business class router.

I guess it is important to add that we are a not-for-profit business and likely will never have more than 5 employees, so having room for expansion is not something were worried about.
December 1, 2012 6:24:02 AM

The main risk with buying 802.11ac is it may be like all those people that went out and bought "pre" N versions. Buying it now and then it not 100% conforming to the standard may actually require another upgrade in less than 12 months.

Maybe the vendors will do a better job of guessing this time but it is a expensive gamble.

I am going to bet 802.11ac is mostly smoke and mirrors and is not significantly better than the more advanced 802.11n routers out today. Even though people pay good money for these advanced feature 802.11n routers they do not actually use the use them correctly...but it has a bigger speed number on the box so it must be better...


Too many people "don't like wires". That is a emotional thing and you can explain technically why wired will always perform better but they will not hear it until they personally get affected by the performance...and even then some think being "cool and hip" is still more important. The wireless forum is full of post of people complaining about poor performance and dropped sessions.
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