The Ultimate Small Business Guide To Routers

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If you own any sort of small business it is likely that you will be using a wired or wireless router to connect all of your employees to the web. These devices have been in use for some time and connect your business network to a wide area network (WAN) which then provides the Internet service. There are so many types of routers available that it can be overwhelming.

It is important that you select a router that meets your needs and it is wise to get some help with this from Netstar. You will get fully managed proactive and reactive IT support. You will not be left struggling to find your own technology solutions to improve your business processes. The fully managed IT service will help you to achieve your business goals. There is nothing more frustrating than struggling with a poor WiFi connection so here are some of the things that you need to think about.

Your need for speed

This starts with your Internet service provider (ISP). The more users you have and the bigger the sets of data that you need to upload and download, the faster you need your service to be. If your business uses video or audio streaming you need more speed but if you are simply sending emails and browsing the web your requirements will be less.

There are cost implications. A service with a higher speed will cost more per month. Also, routers that can handle higher bandwidth cost more. Have a frank discussion with your ISP about what speed of service you need. Then you need to invest in a router that will handle at least that speed.

There is no point in paying a high monthly fee to your ISP for a fast service if your routers cannot handle it. How many users can your router support and what sort of data can it handle?

Choose your WAN port

Your ISP should also tell you what type of WAN port you will need. This is the way in which you make the connection to their system. How critical is online access for your business? If it would be an utter disaster if you lost your internet connection even for an hour or so, you should ask for a second ISP for backup service. When you do this, you will need a router with two or more WAN ports.

LAN ports on your router

The number of LAN Ethernet ports and their speed are other things that you need to consider. These ports are vital because they are network’s connection to the Internet. It is the gateway to your business. You will probably find that most routers have up to four LAN ports. However, you do have more options. You could connect an LAN port to a network switch to expand the number of connections that you have available for PCs or printers.

Speed is also an issue here. Whilst the most common LAN ports on routers run at 10/100 megabits per second (Mbps), it is possible to get 1000 Mbps Ethernet network speeds. Think about what your business will need in the future. You may not need these faster speeds now, but if you are likely to need them in the next year or so it makes sense to invest in them early on.

Setting Up a VPN in your business

Are you likely to need to access your network from outside your main business premises? If you think that this is a possibility, you may need a virtual private network capability in your router. It is vital that you ensure that the router you choose will support the protocol you want to use for your VPN. There are several options for you to choose from including IPsec, PPTP and L2TP.

Security of your router

Cyber security is the big issue in IT right now and is likely to be for the next decade. You have a duty to protect your systems from cyber-attacks. Sadly, you will be the target of an attack at some stage so you must take steps to protect yourself.

The router is your network’s first line of defence against such attacks. You must make sure that a hardware firewall is built into the model that you choose. If you can afford it, you should invest in a model with full unified threat management (UTM). This is vital if your business has compliance requirements relating to cyber security.

USB ports

USB ports are needed to connect your router with other devices. The more sophisticated routers may have print spoolers so that you can better manage print jobs. USB ports are also used to connect to hard disks and flash drives and are used to share files. However, some business-grade routers will not have USB ports. If you need this facility you will need to get a NAS device for network storage.

Managed or unmanaged?

This is up to you. Most small business networks don’t use managed routers but that does not mean that your particular small business does not need one. If the quality of service needs to be managed in a way that prioritizes certain types of traffic then you will probably be better off having a managed router. Unmanaged routers are already preconfigured to handle common traffic and will handle most things that you throw at it.

Wired routers vs wireless routers

There is no doubt that wireless routers are much more popular than wired-only routers. However, there are certainly some business circumstances where a wired version would be preferable.

If your business location has a total area of less than about 2,000 square feet, then you will probably find that a single wireless router will successfully deliver Wi-Fi to all of your employees. You will need to take interference conditions (walls and obstacles) and the number of users into consideration.

On the other hand, if your business premises has multiple floors, router placement complications or is extremely large, a wireless may not be able to cope and a wired option would be preferable.