Routers are a critical part of a company’s IT infrastructure. These devices manage traffic on computer networks. In particular, they make connections between different networks. For example, they can connect a company’s private network to a public network on the Internet.

The Internet would not be able to function without routers. These devices make sure that web traffic gets where it needs to go as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The router market includes consumer-grade and business-grade devices. As the name suggests, business-grade routers are more suitable for companies. They offer major advantages in three main areas: security, stability, and scalability.

Security

Business-grade routers have much better security features than consumer-grade devices. For starters, they include more sophisticated firewalls and better anti-malware protection.

Business-grade routers also allow you to have more than one virtual private network (VPN). VPNs provide data pathways between a company’s local network and remote users’ computers. These pathways are encrypted to protect the data.

Organizations with business-grade routers can use virtual local area networks (VLANs) to protect their data. With VLANs, you can make sure that a specific department’s data stays confined to its computers. This functionality can help protect personal data and sensitive company data in HR, accounting, IT, and other departments.

Business-grade routers can do more than just protect data. They can filter Internet content at a granular level. Most consumer-grade routers let you block access to content using web addresses. Many business-grade routers let you go a step further. Besides using web addresses, you can use keywords to block access to certain Internet content. You can even control what types of functions users can access at specific sites. For example, you can let users visit Facebook but prevent them from playing FarmVille on that site. Preventing staff members from accessing content that is not related to their jobs can improve employee productivity as well as security.

One option that you will not likely find in business-grade routers is Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS). Consumer-grade routers often include it because it lets users set up wireless networks with little effort. These networks, though, are much less secure. Hackers can exploit a vulnerability in WPS and gain access to the networks. With WPS-free routers, you do not have to worry about a user accidentally turning on WPS and putting your wireless network at risk.

Stability

Business-grade router manufacturers use high-quality components that are less likely to fail under pressure. They also design their routers to support networks that have many connected devices. Thus, business-grade routers can handle high workloads while still maintaining excellent levels of performance.

Consumer-grade routers are not built for high workloads and have a weaker record when it comes to performance. Users with consumer-grade routers can sometimes lose their connections or suffer from slower speeds.

Scalability

Business-grade routers are better equipped to scale with your business as it grows. A common growing pain is slow network connections because more people are using the network.

The speed of a network connection depends in large part on bandwidth. To increase bandwidth, an organization can set up more web connections through the router’s wide area network (WAN) ports. Business-grade routers offer more WAN ports than consumer-grade routers. This means you can have more web connections, which leads to more bandwidth and faster network connections.

Another common growing pain is the need to extend the coverage of wireless local area networks (WLANS), which you can do with repeaters. These devices extend a wireless signal and thereby provide more network coverage. You can use more repeaters with business-grade routers than consumer-grade ones. Thus, a company with a business-grade router will have no problem increasing the range of its signal. Organizations looking to expand their offices will find this ability particularly useful.

A Worthwhile Investment

Business-grade routers can help organizations become more secure, stable, and scalable. These improvements come at a cost, though. Business-grade routers are more expensive than their consumer-grade counterparts. Nevertheless, the added benefits are definitely worth the higher price tag.