Their additional functions include determining the best path for a data packet through Network Address Translation (NAT), restricting harmful viruses and other software from reaching the network, and if required replacing hubs and switches--devices required to connect hosts within a network. Besides, some routers have built-in modems. Routers also allow file sharing and gaming on home LANs. There are several models of broadband routers for wired as well as wireless networks. With numerous options to choose from, buying a broadband router can be quite confusing. Here's how:
- Step 1
Buy the broadband router from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Most ISPs provide broadband routers along with their Internet access plans for a nominal monthly charge. Sometimes, ISPs lease routers for an extra monthly charge. If you need a multi-feature high-end router beyond your budget, you may benefit by initially leasing it. The biggest benefit of buying or leasing the broadband router from your ISP is that you do not have to worry about compatibility with your Internet connection.
- Step 2
Alternatively, compare the features and pricing of various broadband routers online as well as in local stores. However, in such cases you will have to ensure that the broadband router is compatible with your Internet connection as well as your network. The steps below help to assess compatibility:
- Step 3
Determine the number of computers in the network for which you need the broadband router. Also determine the number and type of ports required. For instance, if you have a DSL connection, you may either need an ADSL router or a standard broadband router. ADSL routers usually connect to a phone line, whereas standard broadband routers connect to the ISP's Internet gateway with a CAT5 cable.
- Step 4
Make a note of the broadband Internet connection type--cable or DSL. Broadband routers for cable modem (also known as an Ethernet router) are different from those used for a DSL connection (ADSL or standard). Some routers work for both connections, though.
- Step 5
Know whether the network is wired or wireless. Broadband routers for wired networks are different from those required in wireless systems. If buying a wireless router, determine the underlying network technology-Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Make sure that the wireless router you purchase is compatible with the wireless network of your ISP.
- Step 6
Make a list of tasks you want the broadband router to accomplish. For instance, most broadband routers include NAT capability; others additionally function as hubs or switches making it possible to form small networks without the use of hubs/switches. Yet other broadband routers provide additional firewalls saving the network from external harmful components. Routers with port forwarding ability are required to host a web server. Needless to say, broadband routers with more features are also more expensive. A list of essential features is thus critical when buying a broadband router.
- Step 7
Pay attention to power requirement. High power routers can manage a higher workload.
- Step 8
Assess the general shape and aesthetic features. An ergonomic shape with easy-to-use components is desirable. For instance, a clearly visible and easy to operate on/off switch is better than a conspicuous on/off mechanism. Similarly, all knobs and handles should be smooth and comfortable when used.
- Step 9
Research the market for the variety of routers available, their features, top selling routers and customer feedback. Identify the router that best suits your requirements and situation.
- Ensure data security in wireless routers by purchasing a Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)-compatible router.
- Save the receipt and fill out the warranty card soon after purchasing the router.
- 3Com, Cisco Systems, D-Link Systems, Linksys and Alcatel are some popular manufacturers of broadband routers.
- All deals may not necessarily be available on the latest models. Check before buying.
- Avoid routers with little or no warranty.