Networking Hardware - assistance requested

December 31, 2009 at 12:39:41
Specs: Windows 7, Intel i7 950
Hi guys,

I am going to be moving into a new place in a couple months, and would love to be able to network everything. I'm looking into hardware to figure out what would be good to get. My question is on the router.

The general setup that I want is like this:

cable modem - router - switch(es) - PCs/NAS/etc.

So the router acts as the gateway for everything on the network. So first off, wanting to confirm thatthis is a good setup.

Next, the actual router I am looking at is this:

I really like the VPN capabilities that are built into it. That is something I would like to be able to do (remotely access my network). But I want to ensure that this router would also be able to act as a regular router, and be the default gateway (so basically, just want to ensure that it is just a regular router plus these vpn capabilities).

Second, any suggestions on a good switch? Maybe a small business one? It'll be a couple rooms in my place, and I'll probably have a couple ports per room, so more than your regular 4 port switch.

Thanks for the help and suggestions.

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December 31, 2009 at 13:26:07
Your understanding of the hardware configuration is correct.

Not sure why you are looking at a dual wan port router. No mention of two isps. This router has no wireless either.

I haven't had good experience with Linksys and now avoid them. Their older stuff that supports WDS was pretty good but the last couple of newer ones [linksys wrvs4400n was crap].

At the level router you are looking at you could get a Sonicwall wireless firewall router.

Cool thing about sonicwall is that you can buy yearly subscriptions for add on modules like AV and spyware blockers.

What is the total amount of ports do you expect to ever have? This would determine the switch recommendation.

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December 31, 2009 at 13:38:43
Not really about total ports. I am thinking atleast 25 for the switch.

As for wireless routing, I can do that, I was looking more for a wired router, and I had really liked how that had built in VPN features. What I was hoping to setup is cat5e cable (with rj45 connector) from cable modem to router (which would then give the internet to the devices connected to router).

So it wouldn't really be used for wan connections. I just need it to receive the internet via regular cat5e cable. Is this really too much for what I am looking to do? I dont mind the price, but I just wanted to make sure that that router had the functionality and ability (ports wise [being able to distribute internet by receiving it from an cat 5e cable from the modem]) to do what I wanted.

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December 31, 2009 at 15:11:06
All soho routers can distribute the internet to lan pcs/devices.

wan=wide area network= side of the router facing the internet
lan=local area network= side you plug the pcs into

You may have 25 ports in the house but you never will have all of those hooked up at the same time so you don't need a 24 port switch. Again you figure the max devices you are going to have, add a couple of ports and that is the port count you need in a switch.

Might want to read up on "cabling home runs" "patch panels" so you understand your cabling requirements.

Sonicwall also does vpn client connections as do many mid range routers. You can always turn off the wireless but if you have anyone around that using ipod touch or other wifi mobile devices you will regret not getting a wireless router.

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December 31, 2009 at 21:05:38
OK, well that makes much more sense. So if you could, please confirm this. WAN connection isn't a literal type of connector (rj45, rj11, etc.) buy just a literal term to describe the end of the router connecting to the internet? So if I use a regular cat5e cable from cable modem into my router, it needs to go into the WAN port?

If so, that makes sense, and I had just never grasped that concept.

Switches I think I would feel more comfortable to be able to find myself, but the router I just wanted to verify.

If you wouldn't mind confirming my statement, that would be great, and I'd definitely appreciate it.

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January 1, 2010 at 06:38:03
WAN = Wide Area Network

So yes, it's a term. With regard to the actual connection on a router (SOHO or otherwise) the connector itself would be an RJ-45 port and is also referred to as the "external" connection. The clear plastic connector/plug at the end of a network cable is in fact an RJ-45 connector. The type on a telephone cord is an RJ-11.

Most SOHO routers, if you look at one, will have one port marked "internet" or "WAN" for the connection to your highspeed modem. There will also be one or four "LAN" ports (LAN = Local Area Network) which are also RJ-45 ports.

As wanderer said, if you're going to cable some or all rooms in your house, it's best to use a Patch Panel at the end where your router and switch(es) will be. Make sure you get one spec'd for the type of cable you're using (Cat5e/Cat6). Instead of having loose cables hanging out of your wall, I would run them to outlet boxes and get some faceplates for RJ-45 "keystone" type connectors. The term "keystone" may actually be a brand name but is used generally to refer to the types of RJ-45 connectors that snap onto a faceplate.

If you don't have available outlet boxes you can always buy (at most any hardware store) outlet inserts that all you need to do is cut the right size hole, fit it in and screw it in place then attach the faceplate to it.

The only tools you'll need for cabling will be side cutters, a stripper (or utility knife if you're VERY careful not to score the covering of the actual wires when cutting the cable casing) and a punchdown tool (for network cables).

Lastly, you'll want to have all your cables tested and certified. This can be done by most any electrical contractor or specalized network cabling company. I'd call around and get quotes based on the number of runs you'll have when you're finished.

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January 1, 2010 at 07:05:37
Awesome, thanks for the help with that guys. It makes much more sense now.

As for how I am looking to do it, I am planning on buying basically the "outlet" (for lack of a better term) and basically outlining it in the wall, and cutting out that hole with a sheet rock cutter (or something similar) so that I can place it in the drywall.

I do already have a network cable crimper (I am fairly knowledgable, I work in IT, however I work primarily server side[which is why I came here to confirm for network stuff]), so I have made regular cables, and straight through cables before.

I'm planning on buying plenum rated cat5e cable, and yes, I do plan on having it in a patch panel. The only other tool I really need off hand is a punchdown tool to wire the network outlets themselves.

Other than that, I think I've got it, and have a pretty good understanding on doing it.

Thanks for the help and advice guys, I appreciate it.

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January 1, 2010 at 09:53:25
As for how I am looking to do it, I am planning on buying basically the "outlet" (for lack of a better term) and basically outlining it in the wall, and cutting out that hole with a sheet rock cutter (or something similar) so that I can place it in the drywall.

As I said above, you can use the insert type or check out the outlet box in this video about putting an outlet box in after the wall is up. The style I was talking about is similar but doesn't include the entire box, just the top lip that goes against the wall and which you attach the faceplate to. I'd go with whatever is less expensive.

The following link is one type of "keystone" RJ-45 connector. This type is "toolless" as you don't need the punchdown for it. I actually chose this one for you to look at as it shows the pattern for both A and B standard. Whatever you get (toolless or the type requiring the punchdown tool) make sure what you get:

A) shows both the A and B standard color codes
B) fits properly into the faceplates you're going to use

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