Even just a few years before, wireless devices were chiefly dumb devices. Today, they offer everything – right from mobile management tools, to support for several wireless frequencies. The best routers today boast a better level of default intelligence, making it easier to configure as well as use the more advanced features. The functions that required commendable networking know-how is now possible to set up with just a click on the mouse.
Here are some features that you can consider before purchasing the next Wi-Fi router. Remember that some of these features may not appear in the product description of the router, so you may need to dig into the product’s detailed sheet or an online manual to check out whether a given feature is present.
2.4 GHz Wi-Fi airspace is extremely crowded. This offers only 3 wireless channels. So unless you stay in the middle of a corn field, there are high chances that you are using the same frequencies as the networks closest to you; this often leads to performance and interference problems.
Using a dual band router is extremely helpful.
Usage of the 5 GHz band is comparatively less commonplace. Moreover, the band comes with 8 wireless channels. This allows the adjacent networks to operate without stepping on each other. You just need adapters or wireless devices supporting the 5 GHz band.
There are some routers that support either the 5 or 2.4 GHz operation. So make sure that you are choosing something that can handle both of them simultaneously.
Regardless of whether you are setting up a business or a home network, you can offer the visitors a welcome mat. Nowadays, most routers include the ability to offer guest access. At times, this access is enabled by default. If you are conscious about security and don’t intend to allow visitors access to your network, you need to disable this setting.
If allowing guest access, it’s better to change the guest password regularly. If you have a router supporting multiple frequencies that are 5GHz and 2.4GHz, you can limit guest access to the slower network, that is the 2.4GHz network. You can save the higher performance access that is the 5GHz network for internal connections. Several router makers permit a better level of control access with a capability to limit the time or number of hours guest access is available for usage.
Nowadays, most manufacturers offer mobile management apps; this will help you to change the password, control access to multiple frequencies as well as enable or disable guest access from smartphones.
This is not just for children. In a small business environment, this can prove useful for managing the websites that are better not to access on company time. The router vendors offer multiple levels of control. This may range from granular blocking to a full-blown control system managing access to the external sites. The capabilities here include an additional security protection with malware detection and anti-phishing capabilities.
Wireless Off/On Button
You may need to disable your Wi-Fi network while troubleshooting interference or before an extended absence. The ability to do this through a switch or a physical button is significantly more convenient when compared to logging into the configuration console. Contrary to yanking the power cord of the router, your internet connection and wired network will remain intact here.
The routers with an internal antenna are quite popular and they make a sleek and compact device. However, you may be in trouble if the integrated antennas fail to provide the requisite coverage. If you choose a router with detachable or external antennas, you can easily upgrade or acquire directional varieties if essential.
Enhance External Storage
The latest routers have the capacity to reduce pain pertaining to shared data storage. The high-end models of today offer the capability of connecting external storage directly to the router. This data is accessible through different paths apart from network mapping. This can be via the router based FTP servers that can make folders on drive available externally via the Web. Usually, the USB storage devices are possible to attach as well as made available in the form of shared storage device.
With the emphasis put on the Wi-Fi capabilities of router, most of you overlook the Ethernet type on offer. If you have wired devices on the network, you need to consider routers offering Gigabit (1000Mb) Ethernet. Though this won’t do anything to improve performance of aspects like video streaming or file downloads, this can create a huge difference while transferring data between devices on the network.
Routers with traffic monitor can monitor data consumption of all the devices on a given network. It will notify you as soon as you approach the predefined threshold. If needed, it can put brakes on internet connection thereby avoiding extra charge.
The routers with USB port offers easy and quick way to share the content of storage devices across a given network. At times, the USB port of the router offers an option to share access to several other devices like webcam or printer.
You can keep the wireless networks reasonably secure through WPA/WPA2 Personal. However, if you need added protection, you can consider the routers supporting WPA Enterprise. With WPA Personal, all the devices on a given network are using the same passphrase to connect. In case this falls into wrong hands, you will need to change the passphrase for each device. This will be a huge problem if there are lots of them.
WPA Enterprise authenticates the users to an external server through password and username. Moreover, it gives the PCs an encryption key. Since the users can’t see this, they can’t share it either.
If you visit a hardware retail outlet, you can find a large number of wireless routers. No doubt, all of them are doing the same thing, but some are bound to be better than others. You can check out on the reviews submitted online. The real world users will provide you the best insight.
Images: “Modern wireless wi-fi router close up/Shutterstock.com“
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