3 Things to Know When Choosing a Wireless Router

choosing-a-wireless-router
I’ve seen a lot of questions online and in my email lately asking “How do I choose a wireless router?”

It can be an overwhelming choice, especially for those just starting out on their wireless journey. There are so many to choose from, they have their own alphabet, and some come with more features than the Starship Enterprise.

With that in mind, I started a new “How-To” article series to help answer some of these questions. These articles are geared mainly toward those folks who know little to nothing about wireless networks and this one, specifically, deals with how to go about choosing the right wireless router for your home and technology needs.

 

Your Wireless Purchase Starts with Three Questions

Before you type “wireless routers” into Amazon’s or Best Buy’s search bar, ask yourself three important questions:

  • How do I use my Internet?
  • What devices in my home need to connect to the network?
  • What Network Features do I need?

Your answers to these three questions are your guide as you determine the type of router you need and whether a dual-band or single-band router will work.

Question 1: How do you use your internet?

How you actually use your internet is one of the biggest factors in determining the type of router you need.

Do you use the it only to check your email and pay your bills?

Are you streaming video in the evenings or pitting Night Elves against Orcs in an online game?

Do you work from home and use the internet for everything from contacting clients to video teleconferencing?

Question 2: What devices in your home need to connect to the network?

Now that you’ve answered the internet usage question, you need to make a list (a mental list will work) of all of the devices in your house that need to connect to the network. These devices include things like:

  • Cell phones
  • Tablets
  • gaming systems (like Xbox and PlayStation)
  • TVs
  • DVD players
  • laptops and
  • PCs

Most of those devices run on a 2.4GHz frequency band meaning they’re going to compete with each other for bandwidth and you could experience some slower speeds.

Question 3: What type of network features do need?

The last thing you need to think about before choosing a new router is what type of features your home network needs.

If you have children, you may want to look into a router with parental controls and time restrictions.

Do you get a lot of visitors? If so, you may want to invest in a router that lets you create a guest network so your visitors can connect their wireless devices without you having to hand out your network password.

If you have a large media library you and some empty flash drives, you could look into a model that can double as a media server.

And speaking of flash drives, plug an empty one into your router, expose it to the internet and voila! You’ve got your own, personal cloud server.

The possibilities with today’s technology are rather endless.

A Story of Three Networks

To help you figure out where your answers to the above questions fall, let’s take a look at a few network usage scenarios.

Email Joe

First, we have “Joe,” who only hits the internet long enough to check his email and pay his bills.

He’s only got one computer, a DVD player and two cell phones in the house. He’s not going to notice or care about a slow network and a less expensive, single-band router will work just fine.

Gaming Ian

Then we’ve got “Ian,” a gamer and Netflix aficionado.

Ian spends more time online than he does in bed, streams videos and plays online games. His household technology inventory looks like this:

  • 3 Desktops
  • 2 Laptops
  • 4 Tablets
  • 4 Cell phones
  • 3 Gaming Systems
  • 1 DVD player

Entrepreneur Danielle

Finally we have “Danielle.”

Danielle runs her business from home and spends a good portion of her time speaking with clients over Skype, transferring large files and has wireless printers and scanners running nearly non-stop.

These last two home networkers will have to invest some money in a more powerful, dual-band router that will meet their networking needs and cut down on the network congestion caused by their multiple devices running at the same time.

For them, high network traffic caused by working from home while their youngest is streaming the latest season of Dr. Who on Netflix, is causing them to fantasize about beating their computers to death with their monitors.

A dual-band router will allow them to move half of their devices to the 5GHz band and set restrictions on their children’s devices, splitting up their network traffic and saving themselves some ‘net rage.

Networking Wrap-Up

Now that you’ve determined how you use your internet and made a list of devices that connect to it and the features you need, you’re ready to start looking at what’s available.

To give you an idea of what’s out there, we’ve recommended a range of routers, including the one we use for our own network. You’ll find those recommendations in the Amazon box at the beginning of this article.

But if you need help choosing a router, or have questions about anything covered in this series, please feel free to call us at 1-888-863-3033 or email us at help@computergeeks2go.com and we’ll be happy to help you.

The Amazon affiliate links mean that if you click on them and choose to buy the product, ComputerGeeks2Go will receive a commission. This will not increase the cost to you.

6 Responses to “3 Things to Know When Choosing a Wireless Router”

  1. Gina Forrester

    Goodmorning, We have recently had satellite internet installed after only having dial-up for ever. We have a desk top for him and a laptop for me. All I want to do is hook up my laptop. The satellite installer said the router would be $150.00 from them and for me not to try to get it myself. That sounded a little high to me. Now, I’m ready to connect my laotop and am shopping for a router. After reading your wonderful article, I’m smarter than before, but not smart enough. We fall somewhere between scenerio 1 and 2. We do family tree searches on Ancestry and other sites and listen to music as well as the normal e-mail traffic. That having been said, do we need a dual band as apposed to a single?
    Thank You ,
    Gina Forrester

    Reply
    • Jon

      Hi Gina,

      Thanks for coming by and asking. Good choice on turning down the satellite guy. If you only have the 2 computers and no other devices to connect. No cell phones, tablets, or tvs, then the cheaper router is certainly an option for you. We have selected above a capable router if you want to order directly from this page. I would caution against buying some brands of routers as recently they have been suffering from quality issues. Also avoid no name cheap routers as they just way more hassle than you need. If you have a large house or garden and want to use your laptop at greater distances I would spend a little more and get a slightly more powerful router.

      Reply
  2. polymer

    With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement? My website has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my agreement. Do you know any techniques to help stop content from being stolen? I’d certainly appreciate it.

    Reply
    • Jon

      We regularly check our content through “Copyscape” (it’s free) and if we find it’s been used without authorization, we request that those using it either remove it or give proper credit. You’d be surprised at how many people just genuinely aren’t aware that they’re not supposed to re-post or copy internet content without permission.

      Reply

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