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Router/Firewall dilemma

Hi,
Very humbly asking for help on this very basic level: I have been using a Linksys BEFSR41 for all these years. Was not unhappy, because disconects I never thought could be caused by it, and actually are not happening lately. Support sucked but what's new.
I have outgrown it: bought a new laptop, so overall 1 have now 4 computers and one printer hooked up, so I need to expand. A few hours ago I learned for the first time to my greatest shock, that this model was not even a firewall as I have thought it to be all these years. That actually simplifies my choice because now I simply want to hook something before it that is a firewall as well. I have read a ton of reviews and this is what I figured: the newbies like everything, and the seasoned ones dislike everything. Also usually when they dislike something they do not say what is it that is so much superior.
So therefor it is now open to the expert level, so please spill the beens, what is the big secret weapon out there that works? What should I get? (To hook before this, or a one piece, min 5 ports or 4 + print server).
Thanks George
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gyurika
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gyurika
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1 Solution
 
Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
The BEFSR41 has very basic firewalling... WAN IP blocking.. and that's all.

http://www.netgear.com/products/details/WPNT834.php
Sweet unit.. Netgear Rangemax 240...

it has 4-ports.. though you can turn the Linksys into a switch. so you will go to 7-ports

Also, it is Wireless.  Should you go this route, then just get WIFI NICs..  the range is incredible, coverage with Excellent signal is a 300' radius.  Hight Security giving you 128-bit WEP encryption and WPA should you go WIFI.
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ECNSSMTCommented:
not to worry, most SOHO routers use NATting to translate IP information in packets from the outside world to a discreet IP infrastructure on the inside.  Your PCs and printers hide behind 1 external IP address, anyone looking will just see the external IP address of the router.  The most vulnerable time would be when you do port forwarding to a specific IP address/device.

If you re concerned, you can always put up a software firewall like ZoneAlarm on your PC.  http://www.zonelabs.com has a trial version that you can look at.  Otherwise ZoneAlarm Pro or Anti-virus is recommended.  ZoneAlarm Anti-virus is 2 products in one; firewall and anti-virus.

In terms of hardware, its really your call, but you may want to get something that you have the potential to grow into. A 5 port switch or a 4-port router with printer server will just be enough to only support your present entourage of devices.  If money isn't a big issue, you may want to look at the 8 port devices, whether it be a 8 port SOHO router or switch.  Also if you go this route, a single e.g. Hawkin print server that connects directly to your printer is considerably under $50 when you purchase on the internet.  It'll be favorable if you either have LAN parties or buy other equipement like IP webcams, TIVO, netwrk based storage and some extreme examples.

Regards,
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ECNSSMTCommented:
I meant to say " as some extreme examples."
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gyurikaAuthor Commented:
Hi guys, thanks a lot so far for all the effort.
For irwinpks: I do not want to go wireless, its set up already; for ECNSSMT who writes: "In terms of hardware its really your call" - no, because in this case that was exactly my question nothing else, and jabiii was very useful but it looks like $480 at min. and that I would spend only if this was life or death, but we are talking not to have to swap a wire...  ...but still, not wanting to get a junk and spend weeks wondering cursing returning... So please, I raised the points to match the apparent difficulty. Thanks.
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ECNSSMTCommented:
WELL, if that is the case.

1. rule of thumb; always try to plan for the future and it usually implies growth.  
I have an 8 port Netgear FVS318 Prosafe VPN Firewall; it nicely fills out your present requirements and it will give you 3 additional ports.

2. look for things that will complement each other.  e.g. my router has rudimentary firewall capabilities, but for certain PCs I also have Zone Alarm Pro installed, as I do port forwarding to them and specifically I want only certain IP addreses to hit them.  Zone Alarm Pro gives me the detailed control where I need them.

separate print server device for the non-networked printer.  I gives me granular control. I can either move that printer to another network or switch, I'm not tied down to the distance to a 4port + print server device, and if that 4port + print server goes, I have greater options when looking for a newer device.

3. Expect longevity when it comes to SOHO equipment. individually we keep a lot of aging equipment (as opposed to corporations) so whatever we have now will have to work with devices that will be marketed 2 or 3++ years from now.  Thinking wise, that means we have to set a direction for ourselves and determine how everything is going to fit in that direction. I try to keep things to rudimentary/open standards as possible and only try buy things that compliment that idea.  Hopefully I've clarified that in this post.  

Regards,
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gyurikaAuthor Commented:
Hi guys,

It appears that I have settled, it is the  D-Link DGL-4100. I appreciate all your suggestions though and reviews of the Linksys by irwinpks got me to this unit. As far as the Linksys suggestions per se, the 8 port is the leading in the very negative review category by a stadium length, and the other 4 port router, if you hit google the first review comes up, that this is an absolute crap, with a long discussion following... that led me to the this d-link. It looks so good that I stopped there, sorry ecnssmt. That would have been second choice. Thanks all again. George
PS: By the way, also got the DGS-1008D 8 port gigabit switch for lik $44 total after rebate including shipping... (newegg)  Just so that I can clear the deck from Linksys at the same time...
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
Hmmm....from experience here at EE over the last 4 months.. I came across 40+ Dlink product problems... less than a handful on Linksys.  When you first got your Linksys, that was pre-Cisco...Now with Cisco backing, the products are proving Superior and run neck-n-neck with Netgear...

again, that's from personal experience.  Usually reviews are ideal to base a decision on, but what they don't tell you is the pratical aspect of the device/component/service. Dlink is low - cost, lots of features, but poor in hardware quality..that's my opinion.
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gyurikaAuthor Commented:
To irwinpks: I hear you.
Also, network issues are my W-Link. (As in weak) - obviously not monitoring the issue like you apparently. But when need arises I do due diligence and read a ton, and by the end I understand at least half of it. So I must have read about a hundred or so user comments on Linksys. One that rings in my ear was the disbelief of a "pro" (functioning as administrator with mass oversight) over the fact that Cisco would give its name for such a product and paqrticularly over the Philippino customer support that he described quite amusingly - and I (like most of us) have a lot of experience so the laugh comes from the heart... So it appears that the time may have been too short yet for the Cisco thing to have a deep effect. (This is the positive/optimistic interpretation.) Emotionally it appears to give some satisfaction to boycott a company that does this outsourcing game, particularly so badly executed as Linksys. As you well know, negative reviews carry a lot of weight and some were very well established on top. That was the primary reason that I put my question up here, that the only thing sure was that Linksys appeared to have worsened as far as reliability and make since a few years back, and if it got to the support issue, it was clearly the worst.
I remember having rather low opinion about D-link due to a small item many moons ago (a USB hub, they misrepresented the chip it was based on which was a crucial compatibility issue for me) so initially I was having a blind spot  meaning not even wanting to see it...
But this unit got such overwhelmingly positive feedback, that at least that makes a try much more reasonable, then the Linksys.
By the way, the funniest thing was, on the 8 port unit I believe at the purchase link you gave (cdw) these were the numbers, just appr. from memory: Price: $88 // 1 year service contract $59,  // 2 yrs service $79. Now originally my traning is as an Economist from back Hungary. To me this indicates that they expect practically almost all units  to go belly up within the first two years. When have you seen a two years contract almost equaling the purchase price?
So now, got carried away, was nice talking with you, thanks for your reflections, will be part of my learning curve... Will know even more a few weeks from now...
George
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
@gyrukia...Ha!
:-)

Regarding the service contracts....that's a scam in itself, like insurance...they are banking that you will buy it.  For the most part..failure rate is low on items that don't move or wear out by friction.  Rolling the dice on the solid state electronics components is what the "house" is counting on you...the sucker to buy in to.  Most of the products come with a decent warranty, if you don't mind waiting for a replacement/repair.

Save the money for luxury stuff...like Beer! ;-)
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ECNSSMTCommented:
Wow, I've been away for quite the better portion of the conversation, but cool; no worries, I was not attempting to recommend brand, but just a method to plan your structure.  I've no qualms about any of the brands, I've used and recommended many of the SOHO brands.  (I also use a NETGEAR GS724T at home of all things) As for service contracts on small consumer items; it is almost pure profit for the companies that offer them (I use to work of an appliance store back in my HS and college days).  Most of the electronics; the common thought was if it worked beyond the warrenty time (90 days up to a year), then it was usually free of manufacturer's defects and depending on the amount of wear and tear the consumer added to the product it had a good chance of operating 5 or more years.  Statistically, the odds of electronic equipment becoming defective during the 1 - 5 year period was relatively low, especially if the equipment operated without manufacturer's based issues during the regular warrenty time.  Afterwards however, wear and tear does become more prevelent in the equipment's function.

@irwinpks ... what is this? No lobster or mahi mahi...  one track mind with no variations...

Regards,
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
@ecnssmt...i can do lobster right now ;-)
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