What separates business routers from consumer routers?

Small-business owners shopping for a new router should avoid the flashy new 802.11ac models. Here's why.

By Michael Brown, PC World |  Networking, routers

If your router supports WPS, you should disable it (if possible), whether you're running it at home or at the office.

  • WEP/WPA/WPA2: These three security schemes involve the router and client exchanging preshared keys. WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), and to a lesser degree WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), have proven vulnerable to brute-force attacks. WPA2, which uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption, remains relatively secure--provided that you establish a complex password.
  • RADIUS: A few consumer routers support RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) security. I'll discuss RADIUS in more detail later.

Business-Class Router Priorities: Security, Remote Access, and Scalability

Now let's turn our attention to business-oriented routers. Prices for low-end business routers start right about where consumer models top out, around $200, and they share many of the same features, such as a four-port switch, 802.11n wireless support, virtual networks, and QoS support (for VoIP applications).

Business routers, however, lack some of the features available in high-end consumer routers. You won't find a convenient-but-insecure WPS button, for example, nor will you get USB ports for sharing a printer or storage. And it's no surprise that you won't find an onboard media server. Many entry-level business models have only a Fast Ethernet switch (10/100 mbps), and wireless models typically operate only on the 2.4GHz band. In this environment, raw speed is less important than supporting large numbers of users, because those users are typically only accessing the Internet, moving small files around the network, and using server- or Web-hosted applications.

What you will get in business-class routers at all price points is stronger security features, more flexibility in giving you access to your network from remote locations, and the ability to scale as your business grows.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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