I've noticed a trend lately. Rather than replacing a router when it literally stops working, I've needed to act earlier—swapping in new gear because an old router could no longer keep up with increasing Internet speeds available in the area. (Note, I am duly thankful for this problem.) As the latest example, a whole bunch of Netgear ProSafe 318G routers failed me for the last time as small businesses have upgraded from 1.5-9mbps traditional T1 connections to 50mbps coax (cable).
Yes, coax—not fiber. Even coax has proved too much for the old ProSafe series. These devices didn't just fail to keep up, they fell flat on their faces. Frequently, the old routers dropped speed test results from 9mbps with the old connection to 3mbps or less with the 50mbps connection. Obviously, that doesn't fly.
These days, the answer increasingly seems to be wireless routers. These tend to be long on slick-looking plastic and brightly colored Web interfaces but short on technical features and reliability. What's a mercenary sysadmin to do? Well, at its core, anything with two physical network interfaces can be a router. And today, there are lots and lots of relatively fast, inexpensive, and (super important!) fully solid-state generic boxes out there.