Routers - software or hardware?
A DSL/cable modem router acts as an intermediary between your local network of computers and the rest of the Internet. Usually, router is also a firewall, protecting the computers on your home network from attack by hackers.
I use IPNetRouter (a software router on a MacIIci with two ethernet cards) and am happy with it. I am also testing a DSL/cable modem router. The jury is still out for me on this, but read what others have to say:
Arguement for software router, by Peter Schiel, author of IPNetRouter
Low end hardware routers are ideal for some users, but they also have their limitations. Consider the following:
Jeff Luszcz's reasons for using a hardware router
- Performance: Low end hardware routers may be underpowered due to their
cost driven design. I've heard from one IPNR customer who returned one of
these low end boxes because it was so much slower than IPNR. If you have a
relatively slow dialup connection, any router should handle this, but if
you are pushing a cable modem to the limit, some of these units can't
always keep up. One customer reported his $1500 commercial router would
choke under heavy loads that IPNR handled nicely.
- Flexibility: IPNetRouter is not limited to one configuration. You can
route or multihome any number of OT compatible data link providers limited
only by your Macs hardware. These include Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, PPP,
PPPoE, LocalTalk (MacIP), ATM, Token Ring, and AirPort Wireless. Software
updates are quick and generally free (all to date). IPNR is fundamentally a
utility for configuring TCP/IP under Macintosh Open Transport. It affords a
number of solutions that low cost Internet sharing boxes do not (IP
filtering, inbound port mapping, unnumbered interface, proxy ARP, multiple
public IPs, VPN,...).
- Mac Friendly: IPNetRouter is developed and tested for the Mac. The DHCP
Server works with all Mac clients. You don't have to restart DHCP clients
if the gateway suffers a power disruption. IPNR supports QuickTime
streaming and ICMP translation. We support Mac users.
Marc A Sarrel's reasons for using a hardware router
- The hardware router I use uses much less power than a dedicated
computer, my second most important consideration after security.
- Its much quieter (silent in fact), even a fan-less iMac is louder
- I don't have time to become a security expert. I play around with
Linux, but don't trust my configurations enough to have my important data
being protected by them.
- The blinken lights are sure cool to watch!
- smaller and lighter
- more energy efficient
- quieter (no fan or disk noise)
- more reliable (fewer crashes)
- quicker to boot (seconds vs minutes for my Mac 7100)
- cheaper to replace if economically unrepairable