Routers, Switches And Network Equipment
What quality level should we purchase?
Selecting basic networking equipment can be difficult when faced with so many options and ranges of products. Over the years, we have become accustomed to seeing retail and home quality level equipment running small business systems. The equipment is cheap and readily available at local retail stores like Staples and Best Buy. Even more appealing; it sets up easily and looks like a great way to save money.
So what happens a year or two later?
Often we see a problem pop up when the network starts to misbehave and troubleshooting options are limited because of the equipment. For example, the wireless access is integrated so we can’t move it around to test signal or maybe wireless standards have improved and the part is hard wired in to the router so it stays where it is. Also, home routers lack traffic control options which are a requirement when a business adopts VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) systems. Home routers tend to be littered with convenience features and “upsell” features (ie: integrated email or Dynamic DNS settings) which just get in the way and tend to get out dated in months or drop from existence so their presence in the router leaves a risk of failure by utilizing what appears to be a feature. Finally, forwarding of ports can be clumsy or limited keeping remote access options unstable or unavailable.
What if I already have a home use product for my business?
In our eyes, there is no room for the home equipment in an office. As a rule of thumb, as of the writing of this article, if it is being sold locally it probably will not be good decision for a small business. A properly selected small business router tends to be no frills and stable. Small business wireless should be separate and replaceable, and easily upgradable. Small business switches are available in larger sizes (24 and 48 ports) and have convenient uplink features. Price differences in what we see are not that large in the big picture (home router $90 vs small business router $228, Home wireless router $100 vs Small Business Wireless $180). So we highly suggest getting a little help in selection and knowing the differences so you can make the right choices.
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