There is a huge difference between understanding how to use technology and knowing how to choose technology. If you are like many other Americans, you probably feel pretty comfortable navigating new software and following set up directions, but might feel a little less confident when it comes to discerning between different brands and specifications. If you are getting ready to purchase new routers, you might consider going straight to the store and relying on the expertise and recommendations of the nearest employee, but if you want to make sure that you are buying one that is right for you, it is best to do a little bit of background research.
Check Your Computer
Before leaving home take time to check the specifications on your computer. While new computers and gadgets come with a network adapter that is compatible with wireless n technology, the best routers for many years used wireless 802.11g technology, preceded by 802.11a and 802.11b. Wireless 802.11n was introduced in 2009 and is capable of a much greater range and speed.
Although wireless n is backwards compatible with earlier versions, they will slow the router speed down. Even a single wireless g device working over the network will cause the router to slow to wireless g specifications. Because wireless n routers are much more expensive than wireless g, knowing which kind of network adapters your computers and gadgets have can make a difference in which one you choose.
Determine Security Needs
Once you have determined the type of network adapters that you have on your devices, you have a much better idea of the type of router that you need. Another factor to consider is the security options that are offered. Most routers offer WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), and WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2). WEP protects data via encryption. WPA and WPA2 have increased security measures and make it more difficult for your passcode to be detected. There are also some routers that offer additional security measures, which may be necessary in certain locations or when you work with ultrasensitive information.
Consider USB Functionality
Some routers are equipped with a USB port that allows you to connect a flash drive directly to the router in order to share files over the network. This port also provides the option of connecting a printer directly to the router. This may be a beneficial feature for you.
Choose Antenna Design
A router that has an internal antenna can look much sleeker than one with an external antenna, which is why many popular manufacturers are incorporating the internal design. While either type of router may work, an external antenna may actually offer better performance and range.
Take Manufacturer Claims with a Grain of Salt
When you read the back of the router box, you will probably see that manufacturers claim that each router has certain speed and range capabilities. While these capabilities are possible under ideal circumstances, the range and speed will diminish if the wireless signal has to pass through walls or floors within your home.
With these tips in mind, you will be a lot better prepared to buy a new wireless router for your home or office network.