Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

A New Wireless Router

Internet security made me decide to buy a new router...”

Folks, the very first article I published was, “The first Tech Paul Post: secure your web connection Increase the security of your Internet connection for less than $50“, which described the importance of using a router/WAP – especially in the era of ‘always on’ high-speed Internet connection – and provided the How To for enabling the protection features.. such as wireless encryption (WEP/WPA).

Linksys Wireless-G WAP

If that was the first thing I wrote about, I must have thought it was pretty important.

Well, guess what? I still do. (In fact, a router’s NAT may be the most important defense available.)

Since I wrote that article, in June of 2008, computers (and technology) have changed and progressed (at the exponential rate known as Moore’s Law) and routers and WAP’s (aka “wireless access points”) have as well. In 2008, “Wireless G” was the standard, which has a whopping 54 Mebabits-per-second “speed” (way more than my 3 Mbps Internet connection has). I have been using a Linksys WRT 54G, arguably the “most popular” router/WAP ever sold.

Today, 300 Mbps wireless is available to us with “Wireless N” hardware (aka “gear”)(way more than my 3 Mbps Internet connection has). Many offer “Gigabit LAN” (wired) ports as well. And, Wireless N has been on the store shelves long enough now that the prices for this new hardware are well within the range of the “average consumer”. But it wasn’t these facts which got me onto thinking it was time to upgrade my router. My Linksys was serving me well (and I am not trying to do any “media streaming”).

It was Internet SECURITY that made me decide to buy a new router

While chatting with a friend, it inadvertently came to my attention that an Enterprise Grade security feature was now being offered to us consumers (sometimes called “SOHO”), finally! (I had written letters to the manufacturers about this..) This feature was previously only available on “gateway appliances” costing thousands.

Have I got your attention?

What I am referring to is sometimes called (marketed as) “dual firewall”, “packet filtering”, and more precisely “SPI“. I won’t bore you with the Geek gibberish and technicalities (you can click the link if you are interested) but, short version: the router analyzes each ‘packet’ of your Internet ‘traffic’ to make sure it belongs, and the good ones do a basic antivirus scan of the ‘packets’ as well. That’s right: antivirus in your router. I want that. So I bought a new router. (Not all new routers have SPI/”dual firewall: you have to look for it.)

Dlink DIR-655

What I looked for: What I wanted in a new router (and, maybe, you do too) boiled down to 3 “factors”. Um.. four factors, actually.
* Gigabit Ethernet ports
* 300 Mbps version of Wireless-N
* Dual firewall/SPI
and…
* Under $100

What fit my bill best turned out to be the DIR – 655 from D-Link. It is an older model, and I found it priced at $70. (For those interested in a “virtual tour” of the DIR- 655, http://support.dlink.com/emulators/dir655/ss20/dir655_firewall.html.)

Unfortunately, I happened to get one of the devices which had a ‘bug’ and would not do a special, advanced ‘trick’ (port forwarding) which I needed for a special device I have. Most folks will not need port forwarding, but I did, so I returned the D-link. I could have tried a different DIR – 655, not all of them have that ‘bug’… and I really liked it, but I wanted to explore.

Netgear-WNR3500L

Next up was the WNR3500L from Netgear.

The Netgear was priced the same as the DIR-655, even though instead of 3 antennas, it had none.

Just kidding! The Netgear’s antennas are internal. Otherwise, the specs are much the same. I decided enough experimenting, and decided to stick with this make/model, and I did not put any special “firmware” on it, such as dd-wrt, though, as a Linux box, doing so is (supposed to be) simple.

I did not try the lesser known products – such as Billion. And.. if I had it all to do over again, I would probably be not so .. “thrifty”, and get a D-link DIR – 825, (about $130) as it has the additional feature of “true dual band” (that’s important when looking at dual bands.. most make you choose a bandwidth.)

Now I have Gigabit for my wired network, significant wireless range and speed improvements (and could “stream” Hi-Def video if I wanted to) and improved Internet safety for all the devices on my network.. for under $100.
Not bad!

Related articles:
* Protect Yourself With a Router
* How to secure your wireless network
* Protecting your network–use your router for access control (repost)
* How To Limit Your Roommate’s Bandwidth And Keep More For Yourself.
* Which Is Better, Ethernet Or Wireless?
* Gigabit Ethernet Didn’t Make Internet Faster
* Boost your wireless for 25¢

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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February 1, 2011 - Posted by | advice, gadgets, hardware, networking, routers, routers and WAPs, security, shopping for, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. I’ve owned the DIR 655 for a couple years now and find no reason to replace it. Works great and is customizable beyond my capabilities. I think I paid over $100 for it. It was a bear to port forward but after numerous attempts and lots of research, I figured it out.

    Like

    Comment by g | February 1, 2011 | Reply

    • g!
      It’s good to see you here again! I hope all is “groovy” up there where you be.

      And, you did better than I and D-link tech support could .. I probably just got a bad unit. (For those who are curious, my experience with D-Link’s telephone support was very good.) The DIR – 655 is a very good “home” wireless router quite suitable for most uses.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | February 1, 2011 | Reply


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