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Business Class Routers versus Domestic Grade Routers

What is a router?

At its most basic level a router is the network gadget that connects your computers to the internet. Depending upon how your network in configured it may also run essential network features such as “DNS” and “DHCP” that allow your computers and printers to talk to each other. Most routers will typically also offer a basic firewall to stop attacks from the outside world penetrating the network, and will also usually offer a basic wireless function.

As you might imagine the router is on 24x7x365 and like most customers you expect it to work perfectly all the time and will be pretty stuffed if it goes wrong – it’s mission critical!

Should you rely on a domestic grade router?

Most domestic grade routers (like the router that your ISP (internet service provider) sent to you) are adequate for the smallest businesses only. We typically see these installed at small home based businesses where no special features are needed and only one or two people would be temporarily impacted by a router failure.

If you have a business where there are any more than a handful of users and any internet connection outage is going to cause problems, then you should probably upgrade to a business class router.

Customers with cloud based PBX phone systems should also consider business grade routers if they are getting “choppy” phone quality.

What benefits can you get from a business class router?

In addition to the basic router features, business class routers will generally give additional features that could be essential for your business and reduce the chances of router failures or connection outages:

  • A built in VPN (Virtual Private Network) so that computers from outside the network can securely connect to your business network. This opens up the possibilities of working from home (yet still be connected to company servers and printers) or secure remote control of computers in the office from a remote location.
  • The ability to support custom HTTPS headers so that if you have an SSL VPN, a third party certificate can be installed so as (for example) not to fail PCI compliance scans. Note an HTTPS certificate attracts an annual fee to install and maintain.
  • Higher quality components found in better routers will usually last longer, be more tolerant of power issues, recover faster after outages, be less prone to disconnections due to line problems, and recovery more quickly after an outage.
  • As DrayTek Authorised Dealers we can offer an advanced replacement warranty cover of up to 5 years so we can get you a replacement router next business day at no extra cost.
  • Some business routers offer manual or automatic failover with a built in SIM slot; with the correct data package and mobile provider your internet connection can automatically switch to 4G when there is a line problem.
  • Configuration options so we can prioritise certain types of traffic – for example the network traffic from voice over IP phones can be given highest priority to help resolve issues with poor phone audio.
  • The manufacturers of business class routers regularly provide firmware and security updates to keep routers safe and secure. This is often not the case with the routers you get from your ISP.
  • As connection speeds increase, the processor in a business grade router will be able to cope with the heavier workload and so you’ll benefit from faster “throughput” in some scenarios.

What else do I need to know?

When we install a business class router in an office, we typically schedule a firmware update check once per month. This check means we can keep your router in as secure state as possible. This is chargeable and  forms part of our maintenance recommendations. Please see Router Firmware Updates 101 for more details.

The 4G failover requires you to have a decent mobile reception and a contract with a mobile provider. We can help you organise this directly from a recommended £6 to £25 per month with Giffgaff

In small offices with few staff and few visitors, we will generally recommend a router that has wireless capability built in. If you have a larger office that spans a decent area, or run a business with lots of visitors then we do not recommend a router with built in wireless, in this case you’d need a dedicated “flood” wireless solution and a router that does not have wireless.