The following is a list of products mentioned on this website or that I personally have used, currently use, or would use myself. You can review the posts where these are mentioned or even contact me for more thoughts or a more in-depth review. Most of these products are geared towards personal / home use. Some may be good for small or non-profit businesses. Enterprise-class businesses usually have more resources to search out recommended solutions, so though I have worked with many of those products, I won’t mention many of them here.
Project and Learning
- RaspberryPi – These are cheap, small, and great for learning or using for a specialized project or purpose such as a media server, firewall, log collector, camera, weather station, and more. For more info see https://www.raspberrypi.org/
If you’re wanting to extend your wired or wireless network, the best recommendation is to run a network line and install another router or switch via that physical connection. This is the way to achieve the best performance and security. If you are frugal or can sacrifice performance you could try a wireless bridge or repeater. I do recommend staying away from those though as they can cut your wireless bandwidth in half or more! Apart from the above solution, here are a couple of cheap and easy ways for an average skill level that I would recommend.
The following products require good electrical wiring in the home or business as the signal will pass over the wires.
- TP-Link AV500 Nano Powerline Adapter – This will extend your WIRED network using your home’s power lines. I have had advertised performance with these and good stability so far. I have used them to stream media, transfer files, etc across rooms and floors in the house. They have higher and lower models, so choose the one that’s right for you, but this is a good middle-ground.
- There are also WIRELESS extenders that work well. I am retrieving the model I have experience with and then I’ll update this post.
For home use, your router and PC firewalls may be sufficient. Just make sure to keep them updated and active! However, with cyber crime and data collection on the rise, more security never hurts.
- Sophos Home – This is free, and I have been impressed so far. It has more features than typical free firewalls and is in active development with a great company. In fact, they have a complete lineup of free tools for personal use found here. If you have a spare PC lying around, I would recommend giving Sophos XG Firewall a try. You won’t be disappointed.
Routers (wired and wireless)
If you’re just looking for a cheap wired and wireless router for home use without many bells and whistles, you typically can’t go wrong with Belkin, D-Link, NetGear or Linksys. Here’s a list sorted by rating in the $25-60 price range on Amazon.
- NetDuma Gaming Router – Great for avid gamers. I haven’t owned one, but I’ve seen it in action and heard great things. It has some unique features centered around gaming and delivers great performance overall; though not necessarily the best choice for an all-purpose home router.
- NetGear WNDR3300 – If you’re looking for a cheap router to install custom firmware (aka “jailbreaking” in the iPhone world) such as DD-WRT than this is a good starting point. I owned several of these for years. I only moved on when I wanted faster speeds and the antennas eventually burnt out.
- NetGear Nighthawk Family – Though I haven’t used any of these personally, I’ve heard they are great home routers designed for streaming and gaming.
- Ubiquiti Edgerouter Lite 3-port – This is a great router for a small business or personal residence where you want to use professional grade hardware on a smaller budget. Their 5 port model is equally as good and can sometimes be found cheaper.
Wireless Access Points (dedicated, not bundled with router)
- Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC Lite – Paired with the Edgerouter Lite this is another great way to enter into professional grade wireless. The controller software is free and feature-rich. The coverage and speed are excellent. It does use slightly different PoE, so make sure it comes with a PoE adapter, you buy the right one, or the Ubiquiti router you purchase is PoE-capable.
Disclaimer:I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.