We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. Learn more

Networking

  • Wireless routers are an essential component of any network, no matter how big or small. These days, it seems that just about everything is network-connected, and requires a Wi-Fi signal to function properly. A wireless router can make or break a network; the difference between a good wireless router and a mediocre one comes down to how much unwanted attention your network draws to itself. That said, there's a vast array of wireless routers available today, covering a wide price and performance spectrum. Feature lists are getting longer every year, and there's a never-ending stream of new technologies to keep track of. If you've gone shopping for a wireless router recently, you'll undoubtedly have experienced first-hand how confusing this market can be. Rather than simply choosing the most expensive or cheapest option on the shelf, we recommend narrowing down your picks to the higher-performing options currently available. After all, this single piece of hardware serves as the backbone of your entire network, and you need to count on it to provide years of reliable service. To acquaint yourself with the terminology and technology involved, have a look at our wireless router buyer's guide below.
    August 15, 2019
  • A wireless extender (also known as a range extender or repeater) is a device that helps broaden the range of a wireless signal from a modem or router. These devices allow you to connect wireless devices to a network from long ranges, including those outside the maximum range of the source modem or router. One of the main things you should look for in these devices is the integration of dual-band technology which helps diminish some of the signal loss that most extenders create. Beyond that, it often comes down to a reasonable price and overall reliable performance to ensure an uninterrupted connection.We chose the following best wireless extenders because they offer the best signal quality and technology thanks to support for Wireless-AC standards which are the fastest Wi-Fi standards currently available. All of these models support a minimum of Wireless AC750, although some of them offer even higher data speeds. These are all dual-band models so they have amplifiers for both 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz which helps ensure optimal performance and signal clarity. You get indicator LEDs on all of these extenders as well so can tell when these devices are working properly at a quick glance. They have at least one Ethernet port for a wired network connection, and they all support 64-bit and 128-bit encryption to keep your data secure.
    April 04, 2016
  • A powerline network adapter turns the electrical wiring in your building into a computer network. You need at least two adapters working together, so you typically want to buy a kit to start with. One connects to your modem or router to receive an Internet signal, and then plugs into a wall outlet; this then turns your electrical system into a network. A second adapter plugs into another outlet and then connects to a computer, HDTV, or other device you want on the network. The data speeds indicated with these adapters are a best-case scenario and you'll probably get lower data rates, but it still gives you an idea of relative speed.We’ve chosen the following as the best powerline network adapters since they offer the fastest speeds, with support for at least 500Mbps, though some of these can run even faster. All of these adapters include LEDs that indicate when the outlet has power and when a LAN signal is being received properly through the electrical system. Installing these models is very easy, requiring no software installation or upgrades, and they only need to be plugged into outlets. Plus all of these are starter kits that include the two necessary adapters for your new setup.
    March 08, 2016
  • An Ethernet switch is a device that connects multiple computers together as part of a local network. As networking technology has improved, so has the speed that data can be sent between systems. These devices also have "Gigabit" or 1,000 Mbps ports to send data from one computer to another at very high speeds. Most home computer setups don't really need a dedicated Gigabit Ethernet switch since a consumer router typically includes both Internet routing hardware and an integrated switch for a small, local network. If you're looking to set up a larger network (especially in a business environment) then a dedicated switch can help organize your hardware and speed up data flow between systems.We've chosen these picks as the best Gigabit Ethernet switches thanks to at least eight ports, which gives you a lot of connections for your computers, devices, and other hardware. All of these models are either "smart" or "unmanaged" switches, which makes them easy to set up and use without extensive management on your end, so they're ideal for a small business or even home use. You will also find environmentally friendly features such as power reduction for ports not in use which keeps your energy costs low.
    March 07, 2016
  • While wireless routers have become more affordable and popular in many network setups, they're not always necessary or ideal for every situation. A wired router provides connectivity for multiple computers on a local area network (LAN) and gives them access to a wide area network (WAN) such as the Internet. Ethernet cables are typically used for these connections and most modern wired routers support 10/100 Mbps connections for optimal data transfer speeds. These devices often have different numbers of ports for setting up a network, so consider how many systems you want connected on your LAN before making a purchase. Additional features like firewalls and simple network controls can also vary from one router to the next.These are the best wired routers thanks to at least four connection ports for computers and devices, in addition to the input port that connects to your modem or other networking device. You get great speed and performance through these routers since they all support 10/100Mpbs ethernet connections, though some of them offer gigabit support for even faster data rates. All of these routers include excellent performance and security features, such as port forwarding, DoS protection, and firewall protection.
    March 07, 2016
  • Network attached storage allows for digital storage available across a wired/wireless network. Many implementations focus on redundancy, performance, or throughput. The better NAS devices are simple to use, feature excellent cooling options, and function reliably to allow for maximum uptime for accessing digital media over a local area network. Many NAS devices allow for multiple hard disks to be inserted within the unit to increase the storage pool and offer RAID support for physical disk redundancy, or through duplication within Windows Home Server. Before making a selection, take a look at the NAS buyer’s guide for more information and suggestions on the best option for your setup.
    October 13, 2015
  • Modems are one of the most important computer devices when it comes to setting up a network connected to the Internet. The modem connects directly to an incoming Internet signal, provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), and then relays that signal to other devices. There are quite a few different types of modems out there, based on the type of Internet signal you receive and the setting for your network. Cable and DSL modems are used for high-speed internet, replacing older dial-up modems that established an Internet connection through a phone line. Satellite modems work in a similar way, communicating with a satellite relay to receive and send signals. With so many options and devices available, take a look at the modem buyer’s guide below for more information on picking the right model for your setup.
    October 13, 2015
  • Wireless adapters let your desktop computer receive a signal from a router or similar device to connect to a wireless network. They typically come in one of two primary designs, either internal or external adapters. Internal cards install directly onto the motherboard of a computer, typically in some type of PCI slot. These usually have one or more antennas that stick out the back of a computer to find the wireless signal, send, and then receive data over a network. External devices, on the other hand, usually plug into a computer through an input slot such as a USB port. These devices come in a fairly wide range of designs and can either run small enough to easily fit in your pocket or end up being a bit larger. Internal antennas are quite common in such devices so they can remain small although some of them also have external antennas which can fold or flip out of the adapter. Be sure to look at the wireless adapter buyer’s guide below to help you pick just the right model for your system.
    October 13, 2015