Routers are not flashy and exciting. They aren’t as sleek as laptops or tablets. Having the best in class router doesn’t impress people like having the newest MacBook Pro. And yet, having a mediocre router with a hot-rod laptop is like putting retreads on a Ferrari.
Figuring out which routers are the best isn’t easy; you practically need to be a Ham radio geek in order to know what the differences are (yeah, we just went there). But don’t worry; we’ve spent many, many hours on a quest to find the holy grail of routers for both homes and businesses. Here’s what we’ve found.
First things first, make sure your router has the standard IEEE 802.11n wireless networking capabilities. While IEEE 802.11ac is expected to become the next standard, we don’t recommend spending the extra money until we know for certain it will be (if the powers-at-be approve it, the cost will come down as it becomes standardized).
Next, we only recommend routers that have a built-in firewall. It doesn’t provide a Helm’s Deep level of protection, but every little bit helps. What you really need is WPA2 encryption. While it’s typically overkill for home networks, it makes it extremely unlikely that anyone will bother trying to hack your network. For businesses however, it really is a must. And if you have truly sensitive information (like if you’re Larry Page and want to make sure Zuckerberg doesn’t have a chance at stealing your secret ingredient), and a dedicated server, you ought to look into RADIUS encryption.
Once you have your wireless network and security questions answered, look to see what bands the router operates on. To oversimplify the options, the 2.4 GHz frequency will extend your connectivity further than the 5 GHz will (it just isn’t as fast as the 5 GHz). For businesses that are running server or web-based software and sharing small files, the 2.4 GHz is more than enough. If you edit movies, or stream videos and music often, the 5 GHz is more up your alley.
Want both? Don’t worry; you can have the best of both worlds. We can set up a dual band router to jump onto the 5 GHz when it’s necessary and sit on 2.4 GHz the rest of the time.
As to the speeds, don’t worry about it. Even if it says it can do 600 mbps, it won’t most of the time. Your connection speed will be limited by the bandwidth your Internet Service provider gives you, and that depends on a dozen other factors, including how close you are to their servers and what type of fiber-optic cables they use.
So, Get Flashy & Fast. It’s Exciting
To wrap this up, the main difference between a router designed for home use and one for business is simply the level of security. If you have sensitive information and/or many employees that need remote access to your network, the higher end business class routers are the way to go. Either way, ensuring you have the right router is as important, if not more so, than the computer you’re working from. A machine is only as good as the sum of its parts.
If you have any questions about which router is right for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.