How to Choose the Best Small Business Router (2021 Update)
Finding a home router has always been easy. You go to the provider whose services you want to use, and they give you the package that matches your budget and your needs. The internet is usually fast, it’s not difficult to install it, and you can mostly use it for everything you need.
And can it be used for business purposes?
Yes and no – when you need to purchase the business router, you must think of various aspects. For example, number of employees who’ll use the router, the VPN connectivity, wired or wireless access, number of LAN ports, etc.… This vocabulary might sound terrifying for non-techs, but don’t worry – it will be explained later on.
The best router for small business needs to meet specific requirements in order to complete its function flawlessly. Here is the list of 10 things you should have in mind when choosing the best router for your work:
1. WPA Protection
Security is the first thing that you should think about. So, find a router with WPA, WPA2 or even WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) encryption and protect it with a strong password that’s at least 15 characters long.
Consider changing the SSID (Service Set Identifier) name – most routers come with default title which consists of the company name and random numbers (Cisco12345). By revealing the model’s name, you give a hint to the hackers.
Also, look for a router with built-in firewall – it will protect your network from any possible outside attacks, and it will make your business network safer.
When you run a company with a lot of clients and employees, the best would be setting Private and Public Access. In that way, you’ll isolate your business network from the guests providing extra safety to your colleagues.
2. Dual Band Wireless Support
Unlike single-band routers which provide one 2.4GHz band, dual-band support provides both 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz bands. It allows you to separate the traffic and avoid unnecessary congestion.
There are also three band routers which combine one 2.4Ghz and two 5.0Ghz bands, but if you run a business with around ten employees, go for the dual-band.
3. Solid Number of LAN and WAN Ports
Speaking of the number of LAN and WAN ports, the rule is – the more, the merrier. The LAN (local area network) port allows you to connect more devices – IP phones with the router, for example. The best would be to find one with at least 4 ports, but if that’s not possible for any reason, you can use the switch and expand the number of devices connected to the router.
Speaking of WAN (wide area network), it serves for connecting various LANs into one WAN allowing the communication between the users of different networks. It’s desirable that the router has at least one WAN port.
4. VLAN Support
Virtual local area network (VLAN) reduces the amount of hardware you need for segmenting LAN computer network. VLAN support is crucial for any business router because it keeps any endpoint away from communicating with other endpoints with a different VLAN, even if they’re both parts of the physical LAN.
It’s about security again – by segmenting the network and applying appropriate controls, you provide a multilayer network surface that prevents any possible attack or threat.
5. VPN – an Inevitable Part of Any Business Router
VPN (Virtual Private Network) plays a significant role in small business router manufacturing. A VPN router allows the VPN tunnel to exist between two networks providing security in communication.
The VPN tunnel is encrypted so that nobody can see the data you’re sending; the VPN can mask your identity or even your location providing you and your business with extra security.
6. Quality of Service (QoS)
Quality of Service (QoS) defines the overall performance of a service, such as a telephone or a computer network.
The most representative example would be VoIP phones – if many people are streaming large videos at the same time, the IP connection might become slower, and that’s where QoS play its role – it helps you prioritize and balance the important service within the network.
7. Connection Speed and Wireless
You’re living in the contemporary age, and one of its characteristics is a fast and wireless internet connection. So, when choosing the best business router, have in mind that it needs to support at least 802.11n protocol.
Newer technology implements the 802.11ac which is even faster than the N version. It brings more speed and wider range, but the truth is that the small business owners won’t need it.
8. Gigabit Ethernet Ports
Even though the wireless connection is more present nowadays, the cable can provide better and stronger internet flow sometimes. The best business router includes four to eight-gigabit ethernet ports that bring the speed of up to 1Gbps.
However, the newest technology has developed even 10-gigabit ethernet switch which provides the speed of 10Gbps.
9. Backup WAN
The backup feature has saved many lives – and it can also save you from a bad or lost internet connection. Find the business router which has a dual WAN; it can help your business use two separate networks, and it allows you to add a 4G card in case your internet provider is down.
10. Content Control
Some employees tend to spend time on social networks or some similar sites during working hours. That usually has a negative effect on work, and the best way to stop it is to block the access on those webpages.
Find a business router that has the option to filter the content with specific keywords and to ban the traffic on desired websites.
The Best Small Business Router In 2021
Finding a small business router can be a tough job, especially when you’re buying it for the first time. So, let’s make it easier. Here is a list of 4 best small business routers that will empower your business performance.
Asus BRT – AC828
Asus is a leading company in producing computers, IT support and accessories. However, it’s worth mentioning that they’re offering outstanding networking solutions as well. The best Asus business router model is Asus BRT – AC828. It comes with all the necessary features providing speed, security and reliable connection to 250 users at the same time.
- Dual WAN VPN router – you can switch to your backup connection in case your main line goes down. It also gives you the opportunity to connect two separate 1Gbps connections and make it even 2Gbps fast.
- 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports – you can connect even 8 devices via Ethernet cable.
- Dual-band Wireless Support – the dual-band feature allows a stable and robust connection, and the coverage goes up to 100 meters range.
- SSD slot – provides even faster connection and it allows sharing files across your network.
- MU-MIMO – multiple users can send or receive data from the router at the same time without any interruption. This feature makes Asus the best commercial wifi router.
- Guest platform – you can make a free Wi-Fi hotspot for the customers; before they gain access to the network, they’ll need to sign in and accept terms and conditions. You can even redirect them to your business Facebook page to check in first.
- Integrated firewall – this small business router comes with a built-in firewall which sends an automatic notification if something suspicious is going on; if you have compromised users on the network you can either block them, or you can go and look at their device.
When you see the machine like this one, you’ll probably think that you’ll need IT expert to install it. However, it’s quite simple to set it, and the platform is user-friendly. The only limitations would be lack of process payment which only allows you to set up free Wi-Fi hotspot.
Netgear X10 Nighthawk
Netgear X10 Nighthawk router represents an innovation when it comes to wireless technology. It’s primarily designed for large houses, but it can be a perfect solution for those who run a business from home using multimedia like music, video or photo collections.
- 11ac Wi-Fi protocol – this innovative technology provides a speed of 4.6 Gbps; it’s excellent for transferring large data and streaming 4K videos.
- 7 GHz Quad processor – it allows you to combine wireless speeds of up to 7.2 Gbps.
- QoS feature – now you can set priority order of bandwidth using a Netgear Genie web-based console or Genie mobile app.
- Amazon Drive – this small business router includes automatic data backup to Amazon Drive cloud-based storage service.
- Plex Media Server support – this feature lets you manage multimedia content and share photos, video files and audios stored on a connected USB hard drive.
- 10G SPF+ and LAN port – this characteristic is usually found on the enterprise routers. It allows Netgear X10 Nighthawk to connect with 10-gigabit Ethernet devices, like enterprise servers.
- Outstanding Content filter – you can enable Parental Control and block internet access to certain webpages.
Even though it’s classified as a home router, Netgear X10 Nighthawk offers all the features like any other small business router. It comes with tri-band wireless support, the MU-MIMO feature, double firewall protection, Guest platform, and VPN support.
Linksys Business Dual WAN Gigabit VPN Router – LRT224
The name of this router says everything – it’s got dual WAN feature, gigabit ports, and VPN. What else could you possibly want? Well, this small business router has a lot more to offer, and its price is not that steep.
- Extremely secure VPN tunnels – both you and your employees can securely access the business network from anywhere.
- Firewall and Security set – the manufacturers, developed a new security set which includes DoS (Denial of Service) prevention, ability to block Java, cookies, ActiveX or similar code.
- Excellent IPsec – IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) usually uses cryptography to provide security to Internet protocol; speaking of that, LRT224 includes up to 50 IPsec tunnels (for site-to-site and client-to-site-VPN).
- Built-in DNS server – integrated DNS (Domain Name System) server is a huge advantage since it automatically translates the domain name into its prospective IP address.
- DMZ port – DMZ (demilitarized zone) is a kind of isolated network that separates LAN from untrusted networks (Internet). It provides an additional layer of protection, and DMZ port allows you to isolate one or more computers that include FTP server, mail server or Web server.
- Simple load balancing – this feature allows you to balance traffic across two WAN links.
- Content filter – you can block websites or URLs by specific keywords. But it’ll only help with the unencrypted traffic.
The Linksys Business Dual WAN Gigabit VPN Router (LRT224) includes all the features you’ll possibly need – from the integrated firewall to improved IP configuration, and the only limitation would be “scarifying” the DMZ port for the additional WAN. All in all, it provides the most secure VPN tunnels which make it the best VPN router for small business.
Cisco Meraki MX67C
Time is money, and Cisco wants to help you save it or spend it with quality. That’s why the company created Meraki series which provide cloud-managed IT solutions which save your time and bring more security to your business network. Cisco Meraki MX67C is specially made for small businesses with around 50 employees, and it comes with a lot of innovative components.
- Cloud-based management – it helps you connect your networks faster. You can also manage them from anywhere, on-site or remotely.
- Auto VPN – auto VPN provides a rapid setup; Cisco Meraki cloud negotiates VPN routes, authentication, and encryption, and all you need to do is make a few clicks.
- Traffic shaping – traffic shaping, or “packet shaping” provides optimized performance and increase of usable bandwidth by delaying the packets marked as less important.
- LTE backup support – this Cisco small business router comes with the integrated cellular model; it provides LTE backup connection in case your WAN connection goes down. Also, you can set LTE as your primary network and use it that way.
- Built-in SD-WAN – Software-defined WAN helps you reduce the operational costs and deliver the desired performance for critical applications without risking security or data privacy.
- Strong firewall – all Meraki small business routers function as an actual firewall. They control both ingoing and outgoing traffic by blocking any threat before it penetrates to your network.
- IDS/IPS – Cisco Meraki MX67C comes with the features of Intrusion detection systems (IDS) and Intrusion prevention systems (IPS) which are the processes of monitoring the network and analyzing the signs of possible threat.
If you’re looking for extra security for your business network, consider this Cisco small business wireless router. It provides you with all the necessary protection features, and its goal is to save your time and money by developing cloud-based system management and built-in SD-WAN. The only drawback could be the lack of STP protocol, which is not included in Meraki models.