Budget router recommendation for small school

Mike Reed
Mike Reed used Ask the Experts™
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Looking for some router recommendations for a budget-minded K-8 school having about 150 students, maybe 250 total devices (when you add up access points, computers, devices/phones etc).  Most connections will be to one of 20 OpenMesh A60 access points that are gigabit wired to 5 new Cisco SG250-26P (Gb PoE switches).  They have Verizon Fios 150 Mbps service on the WAN side.  The current, supposedly business-grade, router that Verizon sold the school is grossly under-powered and buggy.  New router just needs to have basic features such as port forwarding, basic firewall, LAN & WAN management GUI etc.  Nothing too fancy (no AV)...
TIA,
Mike
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
Consider a Cisco RV345 VPN router.  Not too expensive for your size. VPN access when you need it. High (900 Mbits/second) throughput. I have a Cisco RV325 here in my home office.

I have seen this (NETGEAR N750 Dual Band 4 Port Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (WNDR4300) but not used it.
Mike ReedOwner, janitor, bottle washer :)

Author

Commented:
I saw some critical reviews of the RV325 (EOL'd in 2017?) .  Here is one of the critical reviews:

End-of-Sale and End-of-Life Announcement for the Cisco RV325 with three vulnerabilities that have no workaround

If I remember right, the "RV" series were Linksys routers, now owned by Cisco?  I had used some earlier RV routers (can't remember model, maybe RV042?) with good success.  Granted, no product will be without its critics :)

But, overall Amazon shows 4 stars for the RV345, which I assume is the replacement for the RV325?
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
The RV345 is a replacement for the RV325 which I have (and have had for nearly 2 years). Firmware updated this weekend as it remains in support. Excellent router. I would expect the RV345 to be as good.

Before that I had an RV042G (still a spare) and before that an RV042 (I needed higher throughput)
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Depending on your interest in learning, you may want to consider the free PFSense software.  I've been buying refurbished i5 computers and installing Intel quad-port NICs and using the software to turn them in to firewalls.  They're not too tough to set up for basic use and can do some very sophisticated things if you care to put in a bit of effort.

Otherwise, the RV345 is likely a very good solution if you want something off-the-shelf.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
I've been using Untangle for years.  VERY reliable.  Free version and optional paid features.  They definitely target the educational market too.  I would strongly recommend trying them out (you can build an untangle router using an old PC and second network card or make a VM on a server - I've done both).
www.untangle.com
SouljaSr.Net.Eng
Top Expert 2011

Commented:
I would check out Ubiquiti line of Edge routers.
Mike ReedOwner, janitor, bottle washer :)

Author

Commented:
Thanks N. Spears for the Ubiquiti router suggestion.  But it looks like none of their products have a web admin GUI, just CLI.  I don't have time to learn a new device command set, prefer more intuitive GUI...  But they do look like very capable products!
SouljaSr.Net.Eng
Top Expert 2011

Commented:
Yes, they actually do have GUI interface for configuration. I have used the Edge Lite in the past.
Mike ReedOwner, janitor, bottle washer :)

Author

Commented:
Hmmm, looking at some of their routers at CDW.com and they all seem to say CLI, SSH etc.

e.g. the Ubiquiti EdgeRouter ER-4 - router - desktop states:
Remote Management Protocol :  CLI, SNMP, SSH, Telnet
pn: ER-4
Mike ReedOwner, janitor, bottle washer :)

Author

Commented:
Maybe Ubiquiti forgot to list http/https in their specs?
Mike ReedOwner, janitor, bottle washer :)

Author

Commented:
Reviews on Amazon for the Ubiquiti ER-4 are almost 5 stars!  But I did see several folks mention that the web interface is very limited and buggy.  I just don't have time to be a CLI guy :(  I'm leaning towards the Linksys/Cisco RV340...
Business Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018
Commented:
I have a Ubiquiti AP along with my Cisco gear and the Ubiquiti is a bit more picky to set up (using the Controller GUI).

I find the Cisco RV series easier to set up and use.

Commented:
Look at WatchGuard M370.  Not sure what state you are in but you might be able to purchase it at E-rate (state contract).  https://www.watchguard.com/wgrd-products/rack-mount/firebox-m270-m370

You can get live security subscriptions like Gateway Antivirus, Reputation Enabled Defense, WebBlocker with HTTPS URL filtering, APT Blocker, and Intrusion Prevention Service (IPS).

https://www.watchguard.com/wgrd-products/appliances-compare/8811/26071/15016
Mike ReedOwner, janitor, bottle washer :)

Author

Commented:
Thanks, but I decided to go with the Cisco RV340.  I used the RV042 many years ago (Linksys at that time) and it was quite good.  Hopefully they've had plenty of years to get even smarter?  Time will tell...
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
Your choice is a very good router
Mike ReedOwner, janitor, bottle washer :)

Author

Commented:
Thanks everybody!
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
You always have the option of trying Untangle.  15 days free.  It's a shame if you don't want to try it - great product and I prefer them MUCH more than anything with the Linksys name attached.
@Lee: have you looked at PFSense?  It might be a good alternative to Untangle with no cost (if you'll rely on the net for support).
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Yes, I've looked at it - several times over the years - it lacks many features out of the box.  Untangle offers support for the free version - just low priority.  It also brings up a GUI for management (albeit via web page) on the console - something I never could find on pfSense (you had to access remotely).
@Lee
No argument with your comments... good feedback.  Thanks.

I've not found it missing significant features out of the box, but we may be looking for different things.  I've been impressed with how I can turn about $200 of (used) hardware into a very respectable and easy-to-use firewall.  I may look at Untangle, though.

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