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We had a disaster in our house earlier this year.
Forget about the fridge being empty. Or the boiler packing in and leaving us without hot water. All of these things would have been bad, but y’know we could have lived with them.
Nope, it was much worse. Our router stopped working. Our kids were devastated (No more Instagram!) My wife was distraught (What about my Netflix?!)
No problem, I said, I’ll nip out and buy a new one. So, I left them in the house staring blankly at blank screens, whilst I rushed off to pick up a new router and get this sorted out. How difficult can it be, I thought? Well, as it turns out, it was actually really difficult because there are literally hundreds of routers to choose from in so many makes, models, and colors. I didn’t know where to start.
So, I decided to do some research (at an internet café!) to see which were the best routers. I’ve got a recommendation for you below, and a list of some of the ones to avoid. I’ve also found out answers to a few of the common questions about routers, and tips on how to choose the right brand for you. Ready? Then let’s take a look.
Brand to choose: TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router
I’ve had a number of TP-Link products in the past and always been impressed by the tech and the customer support. The AC1750 is no exception to this. It’s great value for money and does everything you need a home router to do. Very easy to set up – just plug it in and start playing. The parental controls are excellent – useful when you’re trying to pry them off their screens to get them to go and finish their homework! Also, the coverage is very good – we’re in a modern brick house with the router at one end of the house and still get great reception in all our rooms. Great router. Great value Read more+
Brands to avoid: Amped Wireless AC2600 Wi-Fi Router, Cisco RV042 Dual WAN VPN Router, Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router, Verizon Novatel T1114v LTE Router
What is a router?
A router is a gadget that sends the broadband signal (the ‘internet’ signal) round your home so that you can access phones, tablets, TVs, and computers using the Wi-Fi signal, and therefore don’t need to plug those devices into the broadband connection with a cable. Routers will often come in the form of a small black box and may have short antennae on the top.
Do I need a router if I have a modem?
Yes, you do. As we’ve seen, a router is a gadget that broadcasts your internet broadband signal around your house as Wi-Fi. A modem is a separate gadget that brings the broadband connection into your house in the first place.
It looks a bit like this:
How to choose the right router for home
The question is does a good router make a difference? Absolutely. Older routers containing old technology will not have the capability to deliver a strong Wi-Fi signal to the many devices that we have in our homes today. If you have a daughter in one room playing video games, a son in another watching YouTube videos, and you and your wife are in the snug watching a film on Netflix, then you have to have a good router that is able to handle this bandwidth.
Look for a router with 802.11ac (my recommended router has this) with a data transfer rate of at least 1500 Mb/second (this one has 1750Mb/s) and coverage that extends from the location where you’ll place the router to the exterior walls of your house (the router I recommend has strong signal coverage of up to 2500 square feet.
How often should you replace your wireless router?
General opinion is that a router should last around 2-5 years before you’ll need to buy a replacement. If you find that you’re having issues with your existing router before then, it’s probably best to bite the bullet and not hand on until the 5 years is up before buying. Bear in mind that, in the space of 5 years, router technology will have come on in leaps and bounds. So the likelihood is that you will be able to buy a router with far superior technology, for much less money.
How to check if a router is working properly?
So, how to tell if your router is bad? Well, there are a number of simple steps that you can take. I would suggest that if none of these work, then it may be that your route is on the way out and it is probably time to replace it. Anyway, let’s take a look at the steps you can follow to test it first:
- Switch off your router (at the wall power socket), wait 30 seconds, and then switch it back on again – I know it’s a cliché, but this can solve many computer issues!
- Check all the cables going from the router to the power and the broadband socket to make sure they are firmly connected
- Using a cellphone or a friend’s computer, do a search for your internet service provider (the ISP) and “broadband status webpage”. This will show you a page that will tell you if there are any current known problems in your location
- If you can’t get access to the internet on your home computer, then try another device (e.g. a tablet or a laptop) – if you can access webpages on another device, then the problem is with your computer and not the router
- Try resetting your router, which can normally be done by pressing a button on the router box. This may restore the router to its default settings (including the password, if you’ve previously changed this)
As I said, if your router is not working correctly, then try these steps. If these don’t work, then it is likely that your router is on the way out and you will need to replace it.
Router brands to avoid
If you’re going to part with your hard-earned cash then, based on the reviews for these routers, I’d suggest you avoid them:
Amped Wireless AC2600 Wi-Fi Router: Amped Wireless promises much with their AC2600, but unfortunately it looks like the product isn’t matching up to the promises. Reviews talk about issues with setup, and then not receiving the assistance that they need to get it set up from the Customer Support team. Read more+
Cisco RV042 Dual WAN VPN Router: very mixed feedback for this router from Cisco. On the one hand, you get reviews that talk about easy set-up and great specs. However, you also get poor reviews, including one business customer who has installed 20 of them installed and says that 8 failed in the one year. Read more+
Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router: The WRT54G looks to be rather old tech from the listing (remember I mentioned earlier that you should look out for ‘802.11ac’? Well this is the older 802.11b/g) So the product is not up to today’s required standard. The other aspect that also appears not to be up to today’s required standard is the customer support. Steer clear of this one. Read more+
Verizon Novatel T1114v LTE Router: read the blurb and you’d think that this router was the ultimate in all-singing all-dancing 21st century tech. Sadly, the reviews don’t appear to back this up, with one reviewer stating that Verizon told him that his unit was actually stolen. Avoid! Read more+
It’s a confusing world out there, folks. If you’ve got router problems, then I hope this article has been useful in answering some of your questions and pointing you in the direction of a great router and away from a host of poor ones.
I’ve had a number of TP-Link products in the past and always been impressed by the tech and customer support. The AC1750 is no exception to this. It’s great value for money and does everything you need a home router to do. Very easy to set up – just plug it in and start playing. The parental controls are excellent, and the coverage is very good. Great router. Great value.
**Please note that our reviews are based on customer reviews, star ratings, and online complaints. Therefore ThisButNotThat are in no way liable**