These days, getting access to wi-fi broadband is an absolute necessity for home workplaces and small agencies. And after greater than a decade of innovations, you would think that the standard wireless gateway/router would be a photo-best product by now.

What follows are six router problems that, quite frankly, I find the maximum demanding. I looked for feasible answers, and even as I didn’t discover one router that addressed all my concerns, I did find out features — and routers — that might make things a lot simpler.

1. Difficult configuration

The hassle: How lengthy does it generally take you to install your router? When changed into the final time you were capable of getting it right on the first attempt? What about whilst you wanted to feature a new PC on your wireless network? And how about getting your wireless printer to connect to your community?

Let’s face it: Each community is exclusive, and getting the proper aggregate of settings can be confounding. For example, even a few reasonably experienced PC arms might not recognize the variations between protection settings or know that WPA-2 gives better safety than WEP and regular WPA.

These and other hitches are why setting up any router can nonetheless be vexing, even to an experienced computer user. Some, along with the Buffalo AirStation Wireless-N 300Mbps Cable Router WHR-HP-G300N ($ fifty-three), have crowded menus with more than one layers that make navigation painful. Others, including the Netgear RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router WNDR3700 ($a hundred and seventy), depend upon an included setup that has a protracted series of instructions that should be followed to get a new PC for your network.

Possible solutions: Various carriers have attempted to make matters easier with smooth-setup CDs or one-click on connection buttons, but they cannot cover every feasible condition. Buffalo’s and Netgear’s setup instructions cross the greater mile through explicitly detailing the order in that you want to you plug the whole thing in before you run the CD. (Cable modems mainly should be powered on before you join your router to them.) That’s a pleasing contact — however, it assumes you’ve read the printed instructions that got here with the router. When turned into the closing time you read the guide before you plugged for your new tool?

Almost all routers have Web-based configuration screens, and so long as you bear in mind the device’s IP address, default username and password (which you need to have modified whilst you set it up), you should be capable of getting into the setup displays and make any changes you want. It’s just a count of identifying which modifications are important.

The Cisco Valet M10($100), a part of Cisco’s lately delivered Valet line, comes with a USB key that has the configuration software program on it. Once you set up one PC on your community, you use the important thing to run the configuration on every other PCs or mac (the important thing also consists of Mac software program) while not having to write down the wi-fi encryption key or different statistics.

Cisco has additionally made it loads easier to installation different gadgets, including wi-fi printers, through offering a precise display with all the applicable facts approximately your wi-fi network that you may print out for easy reference when you run the setup application on the USB key.

Buffalo has a pleasing diagnostic ordinary that exams to look if you have Internet connectivity and that your router is configured well. You run it from the Web configuration console.

Apple’s AirPort Express ($ ninety-nine) is straightforward to install and has a few neat features, along with the capability to share USB printers and to percentage audio throughout the community to a linked stereo receiver. You also can make bigger the range of your existing AirPort base station, that is something that most Wi-Fi routers cannot easily do. But if you’ve were given a Windows PC, you have got to put in Bonjour, and adding a brand new PC to an existing community isn’t always as clean as it can be.

2. Enabling record sharing from your router

The hassle: Why spend money on a separate community-connected storage (NAS) unit while you can use your router for sharing files? Many routers include USB ports to which you may connect an external USB power for easy backup or report sharing.

Sadly, even though plugging in an external drive have to be as easy as — nicely, as simply plugging in the drive — getting that pressure set up isn’t always simple. The Linksys WRT610N Wireless-N Router ($two hundred), as an instance, has a complicated setup screen that you need to fill out whilst you attach a USB drive to it.

It would be nice to have a software program that permits the sharing without a number of setup hassles. It ought to be smooth to attach the computer systems throughout your network to this shared garage, by means of the use of either the router’s SSID name or IP cope with. You additionally want so one can password-protect your shared pressure in order that it isn’t always open for everyone who is connected to the community.

The Netgear RangeMax doesn’t require any additional software program and can password-protect the files. It also gives a huge kind of access methods, which includes FTP and Web sharing, from its setup display screen.

Three. Performing firmware updates

The problem: Router firmware is a vital first line of safety defense in your community and desires to be kept updated. But finding firmware updates on a seller’s Web site is not for absolutely everyone, and plenty of companies do not make it easy.

You must carry up your browser, go to the seller’s aid site and try to music down the present day model in your specific router version. You then need to download the record on your PC and add it on your router in the right place inside the router’s Web control panel display.

To complicate matters, carriers regularly have several distinct variations for every router version, because they make frequent enhancements to the router, often changing chip units but keeping the version variety the equal.

Best to be had routers: Belkin’s N+ Wireless and Netgear’s RangeMax both have a menu-selectable software transfer to permit the updates. Once that is set, you can forget about approximately it and be assured that you will usually have the trendy firmware.

Four. Enabling temporary wireless access

The problem: If you have got traffic or needy buddies, do you really want them to have permanent get right of entry to in your whole network? Even if you consider them in your network, do you know how desirable their own protection is? (For example, will your neighbor’s notebook grow to be in the fingers of his youngster?) If you simply deliver a traveler your router password, then you probably want to alternate this fact whilst he leaves your own home or office — that’s a real ache.