A Complete Guide on Cisco Router (and How to Update it)
A Cisco router is a networking device that receives and sends data on computer networks. It is most often confused with network hubs, modems, or network switches but is an entirely different device. This device combines the functions of these devices and connects with these devices to improve the accessibility to the Internet or create business networks.
How does a Cisco router work?
Cisco routers are networking devices that are meant to guide and direct network data through packets. These packets contain different kinds of data, including files, communications, and simple web interactions.
A data packet consists of several layers or sections, one of which contains information that helps its identification. This information includes the sender IP address, data type, size, and the destination IP address.
The router is designed to read this layer, prioritize data accordingly, and select the best route for each transmission of data.
How is a Cisco router used for business?
Cisco routers have become a common tool for modern network computing as they connect employees to local networks and the Internet, where every business activity (such as application use, video conference, download, and web interactions) takes place. If there is no router, you cannot use the Internet to collaborate, communicate, and gather information.
In addition to guiding and directing data packets, a router also provides security. Firewall and content filtering software embedded in routers makes it possible to provide additional protection from malicious content and websites without interrupting the online experience.
Besides, a router also helps you to connect hard drives and use them as file-sharing servers or printers that can then be accessed by anyone on the network.
What are the different types of Cisco routers?
Generally, there are five types of Cisco routers that can be used when building business networks and accessing the Internet.
These routers are most suitable for service providers (such as Vodafone and Verizon) and cloud providers (Google, Amazon, and Microsoft). These devices provide maximum bandwidth to connect additional routers or switches and are not needed for small businesses. Sometimes, they are used by larger organizations that have multiple buildings.
Also known as gateway routers, edge routers act as a network’s outermost point of connection with external networks, including the Internet. They are optimized to provide higher bandwidth and designed to connect to other routers to distribute data to end users. They usually come with Ethernet ports to connect to the Internet and don’t offer Wi-Fi or the ability to manage local networks fully.
A distribution router or an interior router is designed to receive data from the edge router via a wired connection and sends it on to end users with Wi-Fi. However, a router usually has Ethernet connections to connect to additional routers or users.
Wireless routers, often called residential gateways, offer the combined functions of both edge routers and distribution routers. They are commonplace routers widely used for home networks and Internet access.
A virtual router is available in the form of software that enables some router functions to be virtualized in the cloud and delivered as a service. Ideal for large businesses with complex needs, virtual routers offer high flexibility, easy scalability, and a lower entry cost. They also offer the benefit of local network hardware.
How to Buy the Best Cisco Router for My Small Business?
When buying Cisco routers for your small business, you can determine the right router by keeping the following parameters in mind:
Connectivity: Check the number and types of ports such as phone, Ethernet, cable, and USB and see if you can connect the necessary devices in your office with it. Always remember that it is okay to have unused ports but a lack of ports can lead to problems as many devices won’t be connected to the network and Internet then. On the other hand, having unused ports allow you to expand the network as needed.
Bandwidth: To provide a smooth user experience, bandwidth must be sufficient. It helps you ensure maximum performance even when multiple users are connected. The more users you have, the greater bandwidth your router should support. Otherwise, it can lead to bottlenecks. If necessary, you can expand your business’s network by adding more routers or hubs.
Wireless Feature: Wi-Fi comes with routers but there are different standards. The best choice is to go with Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) as it delivers much higher transmission speeds, especially when multiple access points get connected at once. This standard Wi-Fi is also backward compatible with old standards.
Easy Setup and Management: Most routers offer a browser-based interface that connects directly to the router to help with the setup and admin. However, modern Cisco routers also come with mobile apps that provide more intuitive interfaces for easier setup.
In addition to the above parameters, you should also check if a router comes with the following features and capabilities:
- Guest networks
- User changeable configurations
- Quality of Service (QoS) controls
- Automatic updates
- Mesh networks
How to Upgrade My Cisco Router
Before upgrading your Cisco router firmware, you need to make sure that you have a sufficient disk or flash memory to store Cisco IOS, sufficient DRAM to run Cisco IOS, the new Cisco IOS supports all interfaces and modules in the router, and the new Cisco IOS supports all features used with previous Cisco IOS.
Steps to Upgrade Cisco Firmware
- Go to Network Configuration Manager and download the Cisco IOS software image onto the TFTP server.
- Verify if the TFTP server has IP connectivity to the router by checking that the router interface and TFTP server must have an IP address in the same range or a default gateway configured.
- When the connection is set up, copy the IOS image to the router from the TFTP server.
- Save your configuration to the router and reload it.
- Once the router reload is complete, the router will run desired Cisco IOS image.