WiFi firewall/router suggestions?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 20, 2011 4:43 PM GMT
    I need help from my techno-peeps.

    I need to buy a wireless router with firewall for my 3-level townhouse. The router will be in the basement, and the signal needs to be strong enough to reach the top floor. Below are the specs I need. Let me know if there is anything I am missing. CNET recommends the LinkSys E4200, but a lot of people complain about the heat, range, and reliability.

    1. Wireless N - 802.11n
    2. 2.4 Ghz, 5Ghz isn't necessary unless someone can suggest why I should invest in this now.
    3. Guest Networking feature - I want guests to be able to use my wireless without seeing my local network.
    4. Dual Stream? I can't remember why I wrote that down.
    5. WPA encryption - that's the best, right?
    6. Gigabit ethernet ports for my hard-wired equipment, like my PS3 for streaming videos.

    Thanks!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 20, 2011 7:48 PM GMT
    I have an older (2 generations?) apple airport extreme in a closet in the basement. The signal reaches up two stories OK. If there's a problem, I think you can usually buy directional external antennae. (Assuming that you choose a device with an antenna port.) Anything newer ought to be OK. The RAID disks plug directly into the USB2 port of my router, so the rest of the network can access them. I had all the devices stacked up (with the DSL modem) in a neat little group, but it seemed to generate too much heat sometimes, so I hung a wire shelf in there and spread them out.

    How are you planning to integrate the network with your home entertainment system? The TV boxes seem to all want an ethernet connection at your point of viewing. Are you going to stream music to your stereo through the network? The only way to get iTunes (for example) to the stereo (that I know of) is with an "airport express" repeater. (Or an aTV, but that only works if you have an HDMI TV.) Which would extend your network signal anyway. (I have a wireless repeater out in the workshop, connected by ethernet. Walking between zones is pretty seamless.)

    If you are backing up hard drives or otherwise transferring lots of data over the network, it's best to lay ethernet cable. You can do it wirelessly, but it's a real drag on the system.

    Guest networking would be good to have but not enough to make me buy new hardware. I end up having to turn security off more than half of the time that guests try to log on with whine-doze laptops. Most of them don't seem to handle WEP passwords. Or they only work if the password has exactly the right number of characters, or something icon_rolleyes.gif

    I guess the point is... draw your whole system out and figure out how everything is going to connect before you start buying.
    (If you think this is a headache, I'm shopping (and saving) for a network components for my sailboat. Besides the stereo and TV, I need to integrate the navigation instruments, autopilot, radios, and security system. It ought to all integrate through the laptop and repeat to a tablet in the cockpit. And it has to fit in the little cabinet behind the nav station.)
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    Oct 20, 2011 8:20 PM GMT
    I recently bought a Netgear WNDR3700 because my ancient Linksys WRT54G didn't have the range to get a good signal into my bedroom, where I use my iPad. I bought that particular router because Maximum PC magazine rated it the best. The range is fantastic. And, the built-in network storage (using external USB hard drive) is really handy... saves me a lot of sneakernet transfers; plus I can access my files over the Internet with a web browser.
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    Oct 21, 2011 2:58 AM GMT
    #3.. The newer Netgear routers do this out of the box. I'm pretty sure the newer Linksys/Cisco routers do as well. I've been using Netgear products for years without any issues.

    Most modern routers have the rest of the features on your list.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 21, 2011 3:15 AM GMT
    @mindgarden - Thanks for the great post.

    NAS storage is something I'm keeping in the back of my mind. I'm not sure where I would put it yet.

    My home entertainment system is next to my router. I plug my PS3 directly into it. I wouldn't try using wireless for my streaming, even though it would probably work fine. I don't plan to stream music at this point. My equipment doesn't do that anyway.

    I have Ethernet (Cat 6) cable in my house. The wireless is for devices that don't have a port, like my iPhone.

    I have it planned out in my head how I want this all to work. I haven't used wireless yet. I'm trying to refresh my memory on the technology.

    @paradox - Thanks for the suggestion. CNET rated your model highly as well. It didn't rate quite as high as the other one. I'm not sure why. Sometimes CNET rates equipment based on features I don't care about. I'll take a look at your model to see if it fits my needs.

    @xrichx - Thanks. I think most of the routers I've seen have the features I want. I think a couple didn't have gigabit ethernet, but most did.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 21, 2011 3:18 AM GMT
    Linksys routers/switches suck... especially with apple products. get a Dlink or Netgear (my fave).
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 21, 2011 5:07 AM GMT
    I use the Linksys E4200 for my place and whilst the coverage is good, the farther, more remote ends of the home got so-so coverage.

    I bought a Linksys RE1000 (RE = Range Extender) that solved the issue of not enough coverage. I can use any wireless device in my home with great signal/connectivity. Reliability after almost a year has been very good.

    The RE1000 also has an Ethernet port on it so it's located near equipment that requires a wired connection, the option is there. Some devices will not work that way though as I discovered with my AT&T MicroCell.
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    Oct 21, 2011 5:49 AM GMT
    Check this out http://www.netgear.com/landing/wndr4500.aspx

    I want to love Linksys since their parent company is Cisco.

    But... I've realized that Netgear just works until something new comes out that I just have to have.

    If my memory serves, it has all the features mentioned by the OP.
  • silverfox

    Posts: 3178

    Oct 21, 2011 2:37 PM GMT
    paradox saidI recently bought a Netgear WNDR3700 because my ancient Linksys WRT54G didn't have the range to get a good signal into my bedroom, where I use my iPad. I bought that particular router because Maximum PC magazine rated it the best. The range is fantastic. And, the built-in network storage (using external USB hard drive) is really handy... saves me a lot of sneakernet transfers; plus I can access my files over the Internet with a web browser.



    Ditto here....my trustee linksys wasn't getting the job done any longer....I got this Netgear....or one similar which has two different "bands" so that my home entertainment equipment was operating on different band than my computers etc.

    Also included is the ability to set up a "guest" wireless access which is separate from my home network.

    The signal is much stronger than I had before....also a tip- I changed the "channel" that my router was operating on so it wasn't competing as much with other devices. I think my router is on channel 1 vs. channel 7 (which is the default).
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 21, 2011 2:40 PM GMT
    Thanks for all the tips guys! There doesn't seem to be a stand out model. All of them have their flaws. I may just have to get one from Best Buy, try it out, and return it if it doesn't work well enough. I am still doing my homework on the subject. I hope to get one this weekend to set up.
  • fmrhugger

    Posts: 199

    Oct 21, 2011 2:57 PM GMT
    DudeInNOVA saidI need help from my techno-peeps.

    The router will be in the basement, and the signal needs to be strong enough to reach the top floor.

    5. WPA encryption - that's the best, right?
    6. Gigabit ethernet ports for my hard-wired equipment, like my PS3 for streaming videos.


    Even N may have trouble reaching that far. Better if you can securely locate the router half way up.

    WPA2 is the best avail right now, using a pre-shared key
    Gigabit is useless unless your PS3 and other hardware supports it.
  • jim_sf

    Posts: 2094

    Oct 21, 2011 3:41 PM GMT
    fmrhugger saidGigabit is useless unless your PS3 and other hardware supports it.


    Well, sort of. The switch should negotiate its speed with all connected devices, so anything that can do gigabit gets gigabit, and anything that needs to go slower can go slower - so while you won't get gigabit speeds from a 10-baseT device, you'll still be able to use the 10-baseT device with a gigabit switch. On top of that, if you have a gigabit switch in place, then you'll be ready for any new gigabit-capable devices.

    For the OP: Since your house has CAT6 Ethernet all throughout, use that whenever possible. It's faster, more secure, and less prone to interference than wireless networking. For the wireless-only devices, though, the router should be as close to the exact center of the house as possible; barring that, put it wherever the Ethernet cables come together. WPA2 should be good with a decent key, and most recent router models offer gigabit Ethernet, dual bands for wireless networking (2.4GHz and 5GHz), and a "guest network" option.

    I'm a Netgear fan, but Linksys and DLink make pretty good stuff too.

    Let us know what you decide!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 22, 2011 2:55 AM GMT
    @fmrhugger - I can't put the wireless router anywhere else because the cable modem is in the basement. My setup is a little complicated. My PS3 and my laptop are both compatible with gigabit ethernet.

    @jim_stl - I still plan to use my hard wiring as much as possible. The wireless is for my devices that only use WiFi (iPhone, iPad).

    I bought a Linksys E4200 because that was the high rated one I found. I'll play around with it this weekend to see if the signal is strong enough throughout my house. I bought it from Target, and I made sure that I could return it if it didn't work. I also bought an iPad 2 to play around with. That will give me something to test my WiFi.

    Thanks everyone!!!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 25, 2011 2:43 AM GMT
    I set up my Linksys E4200 wireless router over the weekend. I'm not having any problems with it so far. People complained about the heat and the range, but I am not having a problem with either. Keep in mind that I have a townhouse. A single family home could have range problems.

    It took some time to set up because I couldn't use the default settings. I had to set up an static IP address and make it more secure. The CD that came with it made a funny noise in my drive, and I had problems running it. I just downloaded the software instead. The software doesn't change the advanced settings. You have to use the web interface for that. I also had to download the latest BIOS from last year even though the router was brand new.

    All-in-all, it's been a good experience. One thing that surprised me is that the Guest wireless feature doesn't allow you to use encryption. I have it turned off for now. I'm using the wireless for my iPhone and iPad, and both are working great.

    Thanks everyone for your help!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 25, 2011 4:25 PM GMT
    That's odd about no encryption for guest mode. If I lived in town, there's no way I'd run an open WiFi access point. I've driven through town with a laptop running NetStumbler, and it is amazing how many people leave their routers wide open.
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    Oct 28, 2011 4:59 AM GMT
    paradox saidThat's odd about no encryption for guest mode. If I lived in town, there's no way I'd run an open WiFi access point. I've driven through town with a laptop running NetStumbler, and it is amazing how many people leave their routers wide open.


    Eh, some people can't be arsed to remember their WEP passcode for visiting guests.icon_rolleyes.gif

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/world/51684084-68/wireless-homeowner-someone-internet.html.csp

    http://gizmodo.com/5831472/cops-use-wi~detector-to-bust-kiddie-porn-pervs