Choosing the Perfect WAN Router for Your Small Business: Key Factors to Consider Product Reviews & Comparisons | by Nick Hohman - Admin October 12,2023

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Choosing the Perfect WAN Router for Your Small Business: Key Factors to Consider

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## Introduction to WAN routers

In today's digital landscape, having a reliable and efficient Wide Area Network (WAN) router is essential for any small business. A WAN router acts as the gateway between your local network and the internet, allowing your business to connect with customers, partners, and the world. With so many options available in the market, choosing the right WAN router can be a daunting task. This article will guide you through the key factors to consider when selecting a WAN router for your small business.

Importance of choosing the right WAN router for your small business

Selecting the right WAN router for your small business is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, it directly impacts the performance and reliability of your network. A high-quality router ensures that your internet connection is stable, allowing your employees to work efficiently and without interruptions. Additionally, the right router can enhance the security of your network, protecting your business from potential cyber threats. Lastly, a well-chosen WAN router can provide scalability, allowing your network to grow as your business expands.

Key factors to consider when selecting a WAN router

Understanding the needs of your small business

Before diving into the world of WAN routers, it is important to assess the specific needs of your small business. Consider factors such as the number of employees, the nature of your business operations, and the amount of network traffic you expect. This evaluation will help you determine the necessary features and specifications of your ideal WAN router. For example, if your business heavily relies on video conferencing, you will need a router that can handle high bandwidth and prioritize real-time traffic.

Evaluating the performance and scalability of WAN routers

When evaluating WAN routers, it is essential to consider their performance and scalability. Look for routers that offer high-speed connectivity, such as gigabit Ethernet ports, to ensure fast and reliable data transfer. Scalability is also important, as your business may grow over time. Opt for routers that can accommodate additional users and network devices without compromising performance. Features like Quality of Service (QoS) and load balancing can further enhance the performance and scalability of your WAN router.

Security features to look for in a small business router

In today's cyber threat landscape, security should be a top priority for any small business. When selecting a WAN router, pay close attention to the security features it offers. Look for routers with built-in firewalls, Virtual Private Network (VPN) support, and Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS). These features will help safeguard your network from unauthorized access, malware, and other cyber threats. Additionally, routers with regular firmware updates and strong encryption protocols are recommended to ensure your network remains secure.

Determining if cloud-based or fixed-based router is best for your business

Another important consideration when choosing a WAN router is whether to opt for a cloud-based or fixed-based solution. Cloud-based routers offer the flexibility of managing your network remotely, making them ideal for businesses with multiple locations or a remote workforce. On the other hand, fixed-based routers provide greater control and security, as they are physically located on-site. Assess your business needs and decide which option aligns best with your requirements.

Considerations for budget and cost-effectiveness

While it's important to choose a high-quality router, it's equally important to consider your budget and the cost-effectiveness of the solution. Evaluate the total cost of ownership, including upfront costs, ongoing maintenance, and potential upgrade expenses. Look for routers that offer a good balance between price and performance. It is also worth exploring leasing or subscription options, which can help minimize upfront costs while still providing access to advanced features and support.

Popular brands and models of small business routers

When it comes to small business routers, several brands and models stand out in the market. Let's take a closer look at some of the popular options available:

Cisco small business routers: Features and benefits

Cisco is a well-known name in the networking industry, and their small business routers offer a range of features and benefits. Cisco routers are known for their reliability, performance, and extensive security features. They provide advanced QoS capabilities, allowing you to prioritize critical applications and ensure a smooth user experience. Additionally, Cisco routers offer seamless integration with other Cisco networking devices, making them a preferred choice for businesses already using Cisco infrastructure.

Cradlepoint small business routers: Features and benefits

Cradlepoint is a leading provider of wireless networking solutions, and their small business routers are highly regarded in the industry. Cradlepoint routers excel in providing secure and reliable wireless connectivity, making them an excellent choice for businesses that require mobility or have remote locations. These routers offer features like dual SIM support, failover capabilities, and advanced traffic management, ensuring uninterrupted connectivity even in challenging environments. Additional features Cradlepoint routers offer include IDS and IPS which are able to expedite detection of threats and attacks which often go unnoticed for long periods. Cradlepoint also carries a line of routers that protect sensitive information and remove automatic access with its zero-trust network access feature. This feature automatically requires ongoing verification utilizing an adapter verification policy on a per-session basis.

Sierra Wireless small business routers: Features and benefits

Sierra Wireless is another trusted brand in the networking space, known for their small business routers that combine performance, security, and flexibility. Sierra Wireless routers offer robust wireless connectivity options, including 4G and 5G capabilities, making them suitable for businesses in areas with limited wired infrastructure. These routers also come with advanced security features, such as secure boot, secure firmware upgrades, and secure data transmission, providing peace of mind for small businesses concerned about data protection.

Best practices for setting up and configuring a small business router

Once you have selected the perfect WAN router for your small business, it's essential to set it up and configure it properly to maximize its performance and security. Here are some best practices to follow:

  1. Read the user manual: Familiarize yourself with the router's documentation to understand its features, specifications, and recommended setup process.
  2. Update firmware: Ensure that your router is running the latest firmware version to benefit from bug fixes, performance improvements, and security patches.
  3. Change default passwords: Change the default login credentials of your router to prevent unauthorized access. Use a strong, unique password that includes a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
  4. Configure network settings: Set up your network parameters, including IP addresses, subnets, and DNS settings, according to your business requirements.
  5. Enable security features: Activate the router's built-in firewall, VPN, and other security features to protect your network from external threats.
  6. Regularly backup configurations: Backup your router's configuration settings periodically to avoid data loss in case of hardware failure or configuration errors.

Comparison of the best routers for small businesses

To help you make an informed decision, here's a brief comparison of some of the best routers for small businesses:

Brand Model Features Cisco Small Business RV345 Dual WAN, VPN support, Gigabit Ethernet ports Cradlepoint IBR900 Dual SIM support, failover capabilities, advanced traffic management Sierra Wireless AirLink LX60 4G LTE connectivity, secure boot, secure firmware upgrades Consider your specific business requirements, budget, and the features offered by these routers to determine which one suits your needs best.

Conclusion: Making the right choice for your small business WAN router

Choosing the perfect WAN router for your small business is a decision that should not be taken lightly. By considering factors such as your business needs, performance and scalability requirements, security features, and budget, you can make an informed choice. Evaluate popular brands and models like Cisco, Cradlepoint, and Sierra Wireless to find the best fit for your small business. Additionally, follow best practices for setting up and configuring your router to ensure optimal performance and security. With the right WAN router in place, you can establish a reliable and efficient network that supports your business's growth and success.

About Author

Nick Hohman - Admin

Nick has 15 years of experience working within the critical communications industry and has a proven track record of success providing solutions to public safety communications professionals. Nick is an avid writer who has been frequently published on numerous industry-specific websites.  Below is a sample of Nick's writing portfolio: 

Improving Communications within law enforcement  What FirstNet means for the future of land mobile radios How hurricanes can cause havoc on law enforcement communications 

Nick regularly attends critical communication-centric conferences including the International Wireless Conference, APCO Conference, and International Police Chiefs Conference. 

Mr. Hohman has a BA in Business Administration from the University of Baltimore.  During his free time, Nick enjoys playing cards, traveling, and spending time with his family.


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