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Improve Internet Reliability with a Dual-WAN Router

For many home businesses, a reliable internet connection is of critical importance. When you can't access the internet, that costs you time and money. Without the internet, you can't send or receive important emails, can't update webpages, can't access online banking, and can't access internet phone calls. You don't want to spend hours on hold calling your internet service provider (ISP) technical support, either. One affordable solution is to use a dual-WAN router with multiple consumer-grade ISPs at home. 

At a large company, keeping the company online would be the responsibility of the networking department, who would have access to enterprise-grade hardware and internet providers. At a home business, it's your responsibility. If you rely on a single ISP, your local cable or DSL provider, when they go down, you go down too. Even a provider that has an uptime of 99% is down more than 7 hours per month. This is unacceptable for many home businesses.

A dual-WAN router allows you to connect to 2 ISPs at the same time. When both connections are working, the dual-WAN router will spread the internet traffic over both of them. However, when the dual-WAN router detects that one connection is down, it will then automatically switch 100% of the internet traffic to the connection that is still working. When the router detects that the formerly broken connection is back online, it'll go back to normal using both connections. Obviously this requires that you open an account with 2 ISPs, for example 1 cable internet provider and 1 DSL provider, so it costs more money than just one account. But, the reliability increase and lack of headaches can be well worth the investment. Suppose that each connection is "up" 99% of the time. That means each is down 1% of the time. But, if the two connections are independent of one another (i.e. ideally using different technologies, example 1 DSL and 1 cable, instead of 2 DSL or 2 cable), when one connection is down (1% of the time), there's a 99% chance that the other one is not down. In other words, the odds of both connections being down at the same time is 1% of 1%, or 0.01%. That's only 4 minutes per month. For an extra $20 or $30 per month (or whatever the cost of the 2nd connection happens to be), that increase in productivity can pay for itself quickly.

As an added bonus, since both are connected at the same time, much of your internet use will become faster, as internet traffic would be automatically spread between both providers. If each connection is the same speed, for example, you can set things so that roughly half the traffic goes through cable, and half through DSL on a random basis. If one is faster than the other, you can weight the connections accordingly. If you have a really fast Verizon FiOS fiber-optic connection, and a slower cable connection, you can specify that the majority of the traffic goes through FiOS. You can even specify that all of the traffic goes through FiOS, unless FiOS is down, in which case it will use the 2nd connection purely as an redundant automatic backup connection.

Consumer-grade dual-WAN routers can be bought for under $300 these days. Popular choices include: