One of the problems many we find many of our clients suffer from is a poor internet connection and various issues with their network. While we do not specialise specifically in networking services we do offer some basic services for out clients in order to make life a little easier for them.
Without a doubt one of the most important aspects of a business is its ability to connect to the Internet and the internal network of the company.
We find that many SMEs will frequently have an inadequate connection to the internet and quite often a cheap router that is not cut out for the job. Some of the issues a client will typically face include:
- Slow connections (Downloads + Uploads)
- Lack of SMTP server
- Frequent disconnections
- Drops in performance (due to congestion)
- Poor security (if any)
In order to reduce these problems we strongly advise companies to chose an ISP and router that is capable of handling their day to day tasks.
The ISP we typically use is Be and we generally recommend Be Pro. We find Be Pro to be an excellent option for a small office as it has speeds of up to 24 meg download and 2.5 meg with Upload Plus service. It also includes a static IP and access to Be’s SMTP servers which are used for sending emails. There is no official download limit so it should be more than capable of handling any downloads, however as with all ISPs there is a fair use policy so downloading several hundred gigabytes per month may cause issues.
One word of warning with Be is that it is ADSL 2+ and the speeds you receive are dependant on the distance from your exchange.
If you do decide to go with Be they will send you out a free wireless router which is adequate for most situations, especially for home use. However for a business we personally recommend in investing in something a little more capable.
Our router of choice is the Draytek Vigor 2820. This is a fantastic little router that is capable of handling Annex M which is used for the increased upload speeds.
Some of the other features include:
- ADSL/ADSL2+ and Broadband Router
- Dual-WAN ports for ADSL or cable modem or both
- 3G (Cellular) Modem support
- Comprehensive and Robust Firewall
- Twin VoIP ports with PSTN passthrough (‘V’ models only)
- Content Filtering (by matched keyword or data type)
- SurfControl Web Site Category Filtering
- Ethernet and WLAN Virtual LAN segmentation (common/distinct)
- Configurable QoS Features (For traffic prioritisation)
- VPN Dial-in/dial-out with VPN hardware co-processor
- 802.11n Draft 2.0 Wireless LAN (‘n’ models only)
- Gigabit Ethernet LAN Port for LAN Server connectivity
- USB Port for Printer or 3G Modem
- Highly configurable but easy to install and monitor
We like this router for many including:
- Gigabit Ethernet LAN Port: It would be nicer is all the ports were Gigabit however if you connect the single Gigabit port up to a Gigabit switch you will have a true Gigabit network that should future proof the network for quite a long time.
- The firewall features measure for protection against attacks including DoS (Denial of Service) attacks, IP-based attacks and access by unauthorised remote systems. Wireless, Ethernet and VPN are also protected by various protection systems including WPA, MAC Address Filter, Switchable Hidden SSID, and Wireless LAN Isolation. The new DrayTek object-based firewall allows even more setup flexibility than ever, enabling you to create combinations of users, rules and restrictions to suit multi-departmental organisations.
- Content control features of the firewall allow you to set restrictions on web site access, blocking download of certain file types, blocking specific web sites, blocking IM/P2P applications or other potentially harmful or wasteful content. Using the SurfControl site categorisations enable you to block whole categories of web sites (e.g. gambling, pornography etc.), subject to subscription. You can also block http downloads of file types
- Bandwidth management including QoS and Class-based Bandwidth Guarantee by User-Defined Traffic Categories
We have used this router ourselves since it was released an have had no issues with it. In general we have never had any unwanted re-boots and system uptime is normally in weeks.