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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Routers

I hate to badmouth anyone or anything if I don't have to, but I feel the need to warn everyone:

STAY AWAY FROM BELKIN ROUTERS.


I recently picked up a Belkin F5D8236-4 v2 wireless N router. Being that it was less expensive than the Linksys version, I knew it was not top of the line, but nothing could have prepared me for how bad it actually was. 

First and foremost, you'll never believe this, all of the network (RJ45) ports were only half of what they should be. Quick lesson: Network cables (Cat 5, 5e, 6 etc) are made up of 8 wires that are configured as 4 twisted pairs. Knowing that there are only 4 true "Channels" of information, Belkin decided to only use 4 pin connectors, therefore rendering half of your network cable useless. More importantly, redundancy and other significant signal quality benefits, including speed, are thrown to the wind.

Some numbers:
Theoretical maximum speed of wireless G technology is 54 Mbs (we won't talk about N right now).
Theoretical maximum speed of 10/100 Wired technology is 100 Mbs.

So, why I ask, did files transfer at nearly twice the pace using the 'slower' wireless than through the wired? This was strange to me, because even if the wired technology dropped down to the 10 Mbs threshold, it still should have been faster than the wireless, who's protocols require more time and effort to operate. (For those paying attention, 54 is bigger, therefore faster than 10, but because of the technology, they should appear to be the same speed when in action.) What a pain... Moving on...

Firewall. Thats a good thing right? Keeps me safe from the engine compartment of my car, protects my computers from unwanted traffic, protects brick and mortars from other brick and mortars and protects my network from various malicious attacks. But wait, should it be blocking all of my traffic? Why can't I perform a simple Google search without having blocked items? Why do speed test results look very sad compared to other routers? There is protecting me and there is getting in my way. There needs to be a balance, but I need to say what and when.

I wrote an article for my school paper along time ago once, it's topic and purpose was to complain about, and hopefully help rectify, parents that overprotect their children. At that time, I had a few classmates that appeared to be frightened of crossing a road without hand holding and I had a hard time with that. At that point in their lives, if crossing a road was an issue, how could they be expected to get a job and live on their own in the near future. I don't know that my efforts made any difference, but I had to try.

My efforts would have been completely lost on Belkin. They have provided a firewall that does what it feels like, when it feels like it, which seam to be preventing me from accessing the internet. Not only could I not access content I knew to be safe, but it actually allowed a spoofing virus to get through that it claims to help protect from. Thanks for that.

Spend the extra money people; buy Linksys, avoid Belkin.


(Everything here is my opinion, there are no disclosures to inform you of.)