How to Pick the Right Wireless Router

The advent of wireless routers has helped small offices and home computers interconnect and function fast. No more sharing of files with thumb drives or squabbles over who will access the internet fast. If you have notebook or laptop you can keep repositioning your place of work within your house, such is the convenience of wireless networking. With a little bit of planning you can configure a network that suits your business requirements the most.

The task of settling for a particular model of wireless router can be very puzzling. There are many models from various manufacturers and each with many features. Some of the features of wireless routers to check out before buying one are explained below.

Router Functionalities
Firewall
Firewalls are ideal for home networks. They help in protecting home use computers by stalling the destructive efforts of other official websites and potential hackers. This software or hardware device filters the information coming through the internet connection, flagging the information that is not to be allowed through. You can find some such models at:

VPN Pass through
VPN pass through feature of routers allows traffic between the endpoints and does not support one of the endpoints. This feature is ideal for routers of home use or small office setups; they are less expensive than a router with full VPN that supports the endpoints.
DHCP server
Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) servers can be implemented for windows based system. The server automatically assigns an IP address to the computer TCP/IP stack software.
Wireless Access Point
The performance of your network will depend on signal strength of the wireless access point. Before you position it, find out the exact location from where it will give the maximum network range.
DSL Modem
Digital Subscriber Line modems are faster than regular modems and can use the existing phone lines. Both internet connection and phone lines for telephone calls can be used simultaneously.
Voice over IP gateway
VoIP routers have both wireless networking feature and telephone terminal adapters. With this feature the network can access both Internet and voice communications.
Protocols
These are formats for transferring data between the various devices. The protocols determine the various aspects of the data like compression types, delivery and retrieval by devices and error checking. The standard protocols differ in their various features, so in order to communicate with other computers correct protocols must be selected.

Internet Protocol (IP) enables unique addressing for computers.
When used with transport control protocol, it is referred as TCP/IP.
The newer IP version 6 is referred as IPv6. This version addresses 16 bytes in length.
DHCP: Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol assigns dynamic IP addresses to devices on a network.
Routing Protocols
The information packets have to be routed by a series of routers to get to its destination. Latest routers automatically exchange route information with other routers through the use of routing protocols.

While configuring the router on your own, you have to choose what types of routing protocol you have to install and configure.

RIP version-1: It is a dynamic protocol and automatically figures routing tables on its own, thus manual inputs are not required.
Encryption Standards
This feature configures the virtual private network, encryption hardware advanced integration modules and the network modules.

Data Encryption Standard – applies 56-bit key to 64-bit block of data. This is the most commonly used encryption standard. A single key is used which is very difficult to break.

Triple DES (3DES) – applies 3 keys in succession making it more difficult to break the code.

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) will be the next encryption standard for commercial transactions in the private sector.

MD5

SHA 1
Modulation
There are many standards of modulation. The most commonly used types are:
QAM: Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, a dominant modulation technique for high speed digital signals.
CCK: Complimentary Code Keying is a modulation scheme to operate in data speeds up to 11Mbps in the RF band.
OFDM: Orthogonal Frequency division multiplexing modulation is used for even higher speeds of 54Mbps.
DSSS: Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum use wideband signals that are not easy to detect and resists jamming attempts.
Security
Today no home and office network is secure. To counter the hacking efforts of hackers, look for good built-in security functionalities. These will ensure that your system doesn’t slow down, those within the range of your wireless are not able to view your files, emails, instant messages, usernames and passwords. Depending on the security features you can also block spams, illegal activities with your internet connection and prevent loading of dangerous software.

This however doesn’t mean your network is completely secure.
Some steps that can be taken are:
Enable WEP, wired equivalent privacy encryption provides security to WLANS. The WEP keys encrypt the data stream.
Turning on WPA encryption. The Wi-Fi protected access adds on the authentication and encryption features WEP explained above.
TKIP, Temporal Key Integrity Protocol covers up for the encryption weaknesses of WEP.
WPA2 protection is the latest one and provides high level of protection.
Enable wireless MAC Address filtering.

WEP Encryption length
The WEP encryption is based on a combination of secret user keys and system generated values. The key encrypts and de-encrypts the data that is transferred between the access points and the clients. There are two versions:
The earlier version supported 40-bit encryption; the key length was 40 bits and 24 additional bits of system generated data, thus a total of 64 bits.
Easy decoding of 40 bit WEP encryption encouraged vendors to go in for 128-bit encryption. 128-bit encryption has a key length of 104 bits.
Antenna Type
The omni directional antenna of routers broadcast 360degrees around the router. Position them in such a way that you can make the most of the radiating signals.

External antennas can add strength significantly, thus giving a wider range and increased network performance when compared with the performance of in-built antennas.

Detachable antennas disable 802.11a lower band communications when detached. On attaching the antenna the lower band is enabled. Thus they can be screwed into the device and can be upgraded easily.

The third type is the internal integrated antennas. These antennas are built-in, and hence cannot be changed or directed.
Brand Name
Wireless routers are still evolving, and at this infant stage it will do good to stick to one brand. Switching between brands can lead to compatibility problems. Linksys and Netgear wireless routers are among the few companies that have the highest wireless router ratings a company can get.
Linksys
Linksys wireless routers are easy to install and are reputed to give good performance and signal range. The various features that the router supports are protection from hackers with NAT technology, VPN pass through, and can encrypt all wireless transmissions. Most of its models have excellent performance and extremely useful support features. Some of the features are the firewall and routing capabilities, MAC address filtering and virtual server support. Most of the models are easy to configure with the browser-based configuration.
Netgear
Netgear wireless routers have not only superior looks but also good signal strength and wider range.  Security features are good and are taken care of with WPA-PSK, WEP (128-bit). Netgear markets wide range of wireless routers for home networking as well as business networking. The selling factors are ease of use, reliability, quality and security.
Apple
Customers loyal to this brand can go in for wireless routers of this brand; they are however priced higher than models of other brands with similar features. Security and support features are good.