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

In addition, SMB routers support the aforementioned WPA, WPA2, and RADIUS (also known as WPA-Enterprise) security protocols, but you should use only the latter two to secure your business's network. RADIUS is the most secure option, but it is complicated to set up because it requires a dedicated server independent of the router. When a user logs on to a wireless network secured via RADIUS, a RADIUS client running on the router sends the user's login ID and encrypted password to a central authentication server. The authentication server then sends one of several messages back through the router to the user: 'Accept' (in which case the user is authorized to access the network), 'Reject' (the user is denied access, and asked to reenter their credentials), 'Challenge' (the user is asked to provide additional information), or 'Change password' (the user is recognized, but asked to create a new password before gaining access).

Next Page: More Details on Business-Class Routers

More Business Router Features

You might be surprised to learn that many business-class routers don't include integrated wireless networking. If the one you select doesn't, you can easily add such capability by deploying one or more wireless access points.

Higher-end business routers, meanwhile, deliver scalability, redundancy, and even stronger security features. Scalability defines the router's ability to expand as your business grows. Expanding a network's hardwired capabilities is easy: Plug another multiport ethernet switch into one of the router's ports. Voila! More ports! (If you're operating a complex network with a RADIUS server, multiple VLANs, and other features, you might need to invest in a managed switch.)

The only way to increase your Internet bandwidth, though, is to get additional connections to your Internet service provider via your router's WAN (wide-area network) ports. While consumer and low-end business routers typically have just one WAN port, higher-end business-class routers have multiple WAN ports, so you can establish more than one connection to one or more ISPs. Establish two or more connections to the same ISP, and you can improve your network's performance through load balancing. Establishing two or more connections to different ISPs provides redundancy for business continuity (since it's unlikely that two ISPs will suffer an outage at the same time). Cisco's RV016 Multi WAN VPN Router ($450), for example, is outfitted with 16 Fast Ethernet ports, including two that serve as dedicated WAN ports. But you can configure five of the other ports to function as WAN ports (making a total of seven) for load balancing or redundancy.

Here are some of the other features you can expect to find in a business-class router:

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