Gavin Wood is the Chief Technology Officer at Chess. With over 20 years in the IT industry, Gavin has a track record of driving successful business transformation through technology. An avid yachtsman, he's a massive advocate for remote working and anywhere operations.
We help customers work securely from anywhere and in this article, Gavin Wood, Chess CTO, gives some pointers on how to maximise the performance of your Small office or Home office (SOHO) network by improving your router:
A router is a device that combines a modem for accessing the internet with network functions for sharing the connection and communicating between devices within your network. Essentially this is a small computer through which all your network traffic is aggregated. It is pivotal for the security, speed and reliability of your network.
Many of us simply use the routers supplied by our Internet Service Provider and don’t give this a second thought. However, as we have come to rely on internet connectivity for both work and leisure, this may be worth a few minutes of your time to reconsider.
"Millions of people in the UK at risk of using insecure routers.
Weak passwords, a lack of updates and network vulnerabilities mean some home routers could be putting users at risk."
Source: Which?, 2021
A recent report suggests that many routers' inbuilt software hasn’t been updated since they were originally installed. TThis allows hackers and other bad actors to exploit in-built vulnerabilities and gives them easy access to your devices. You should update your router by installing the latest firmware if you can or replace it for a more up-to-date one if it has gone end of life.
As with any other computer, it is a good idea to make sure you change your router passwords regularly. There are usually several passwords built into your router. The admin password is often set to a default value for all routers of the same model. You should change this when the service goes live, just in case. The main wifi password is what we often give out to our friends, family and co-workers. The guest wifi password is intended to be used by occasional visitors. Get into the habit of changing these regularly and make sure you use a strong password if possible.
This is a network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and permits or blocks packets based on a set of security rules. Its purpose is to establish a barrier between your internal network and incoming traffic from external sources (such as the internet) to block malicious traffic like viruses and hackers. In simple terms, everyone needs a firewall – and networks without one are constantly in danger. Most basic routers do not include a firewall. However, more advanced ones can have firewall functionality included, which may need configuring. A firewall can also be a separate device that plugs into your router and links into your local network.
- Devices & CPU
The power of the CPU can limit the ability to process all the information flowing through your router. On a busy network, the router can act as a bottleneck and slow things down. If multiple devices are running applications that demand real-time data, like video calls, a basic router might struggle to keep up with demand. This means that after you have upgraded to the fastest fibre package your router may downgrade the performance.
There are many different WIFI standards available now. Whichever your router supports can affect the performance of your network, especially for devices located a distance away from the router. Replacing your router with a more up to date one or adding wifi access points onto the network may be a good idea, but be careful as some older devices, and IoT devices do not always cope well with more up to date protocols. Check your maximum line speed on your router if you get a new FTTP line – as it is often that the wifi is slower than the line and performance can be a disappointment.
- Your router as a single point of failure
If your router breaks, it will take your whole network down. You may be able to keep going using your mobile if you have enough data and a good connection, but unless you have an advanced service plan, there is unlikely to be any guaranteed replacement time for a new router from your ISP. Bear in mind mobiles may work ok for individuals but may not be so good for services that need a predictable IP address, such as mail servers or shared file resources.
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If your business line fails, a basic router is unlikely to have a failover route built-in. You can get more advanced routers with a 4g or 5g module to auto-failover to the mobile network to keep you going in the event of a disaster.
So whilst it is easy to overlook the router, it plays a key part in your day to day operations. Chess have a range of options covering all of the above if you need help deciding what is best for your business. From more advanced routers, firewalls, and wifi networks to fully managed broadband where we look after all of the above for you, we can help you connect your people no matter their location.
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