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Old 11-29-2012, 01:07 PM   #1
Fardringle
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Default Small business router recommendations

One of my client offices recently changed their ISP and their router (old PC running Smoothwall 3) will not communicate with the new ISP properly, so sadly it's time to retire the old beast. The box will not communicate with the 12mbps Qwest DSL line at more than 1.5mpbs no matter what we tried, including replacing the NIC cards, DSL modem, and multiple troubleshooting options suggested by the Smoothwall devs.

The office also has a Netgear WNDR3700 that has been functioning just as a wireless access point. The Netgear is a nice router and it gets the full 12mbps on the DSL line, but it is missing a function that is an absolute requirement for this office - it has to be able to assign the SBS 2003 domain controller as the primary DNS server or domain logins don't work right (known issue with SBS 2003), and it can't do that unless I install Tomato or DD-WRT. Normally, I'd have no problem with that, but I tried multiple different builds of both custom firmwares and they are all very unstable on this Netgear and it frequently locks up and has to be rebooted even though it has been perfectly stable with the stock firmware as an access point for more than a year - and returns to stability if I put the stock firmware back on the router.

So...long-ish story short...I need recommendations for a router for a small business, serving between 20-30 devices (depending on how many wireless devices are active at any time) and that will sync properly with Qwest DSL. The budget is relatively small so options are limited. The boss wants to spend around $200 or less if possible, but I can probably talk him into a bit more if there is a really good option. Wireless is not required since they have the Netgear, but a nice combination box would be fine if the price and quality are good.
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Last edited by Fardringle; 11-29-2012 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 11-29-2012, 01:16 PM   #2
drebo
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Just disable the DHCP server on the Netgear and configure DHCP on the SBS 2003 server. That's how it should be set up anyway.

My recommendation is a Juniper SRX100.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:13 PM   #3
Fardringle
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Originally Posted by drebo View Post
Just disable the DHCP server on the Netgear and configure DHCP on the SBS 2003 server. That's how it should be set up anyway.
That would probably be best, but I might still need a router if the Netgear continues to have problems acting as more than just an access point. I'll give it a try, thanks.


The Juniper looks nice but that's way out of the budget that the owner is willing to spend..
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"I had a dream where every American would be free to run SETI@Home!" - Martin Luther King Jr.
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:15 PM   #4
theevilsharpie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fardringle View Post
One of my client offices recently changed their ISP and their router (old PC running Smoothwall 3) will not communicate with the new ISP properly, so sadly it's time to retire the old beast. The box will not communicate with the 12mbps Qwest DSL line at more than 1.5mpbs no matter what we tried, including replacing the NIC cards, DSL modem, and multiple troubleshooting options suggested by the Smoothwall devs.
Any computer capable of running any version of Smoothwall is capable of routing at more than 1.5Mbps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fardringle View Post
The office also has a Netgear WNDR3700 that has been functioning just as a wireless access point. The Netgear is a nice router and it gets the full 12mbps on the DSL line, but it is missing a function that is an absolute requirement for this office - it has to be able to assign the SBS 2003 domain controller as the primary DNS server or domain logins don't work right (known issue with SBS 2003), and it can't do that unless I install Tomato or DD-WRT.
Disable DHCP on the router and enable the DHCP server on the SBS 2003 box.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fardringle View Post
So...long-ish story short...I need recommendations for a router for a small business, serving between 20-30 devices (depending on how many wireless devices are active at any time) and that will sync properly with Qwest DSL. The budget is relatively small so options are limited. The boss wants to spend around $200 or less if possible, but I can probably talk him into a bit more if there is a really good option. Wireless is not required since they have the Netgear, but a nice combination box would be fine if the price and quality are good.
$200 is really limiting your options for stable small business firewalls. ZyXel's low-end UTM firewalls are around that price range, and while I don't have any personal experience, I've heard good things about them.

That being said, both your Netgear router and your Smoothwall box will function if they're configured properly.
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:25 PM   #5
Fardringle
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Originally Posted by theevilsharpie View Post
Any computer capable of running any version of Smoothwall is capable of routing at more than 1.5Mbps.
Yes, it should, and it worked fine on the old dual bonded T1 lines (3mbps up/down) but it wouldn't do more than 1.5 mbps up or down with their 12/2mbps DSL line, and the DSL techs and the Smoothwall devs couldn't figure out why.

Quote:
That being said, both your Netgear router and your Smoothwall box will function if they're configured properly.
The Netgear works fine when it is up, but it locks up several times per week (sometimes several per day) if it has any build of Tomato or DD-WRT installed. It doesn't make sense, but that is what is happening. I plan to go ahead and set up DHCP on the server and put the Netgear back to the stock firmware to see if it will behave properly.

I know that the budget limits the options a lot, but that's the available budget, and unlike the U.S. Government, I can't just print more money to buy things that the office owner can't afford...
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Old 11-29-2012, 04:19 PM   #6
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If you are on a shoestring budget and don't mind tinkering, you might try some of the Smoothwall alternatives such as PFSense or Zentyal. I suspect that whatever routing limitation you were hitting at 1.5Mbps was due to some kind of network issue. I would swap out the NICs and try one of these other router builds to see if that resolves the issue. Good luck!
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Old 11-29-2012, 05:40 PM   #7
drebo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fardringle View Post
Yes, it should, and it worked fine on the old dual bonded T1 lines (3mbps up/down) but it wouldn't do more than 1.5 mbps up or down with their 12/2mbps DSL line, and the DSL techs and the Smoothwall devs couldn't figure out why.
Sounds like a duplex mismatch.
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