For the last few months, Internet speed here at itinthedatacenter.com have been less than impressive. With a Business connection, the advertised speed earlier this year was 45mb/s down and 10mb/s up. That increased in late May and early June to 60mb/s down and 10mb/s up. Normally, 45mb/s was what we could hit all day long. With the upgrade, we where hoping to get that extra 15mb/s out of our connection.
For the last 4 years, since practically the days when I first got the business line, I have been using a very reliable Cisco 851 to do the routing. The little machine is simple, and it never once ever hung or died like some of the consumer routers from Speedstream or Netgear did on me. Knowing the router is very low end, I only really ran some NAT on it, and that was about it.
In March, after years of the same, I decided to enable the Firewall on the unit. Now some will say “no way!” you lived that long without a firewall on the internet. Truth is, since the router was NAT, it only allowed in a specific set of ports and only what was outbound, but it was not configured to do anything about spoofed packets or other problems. I run a DMZ firewall that does screening and other IPS, so I was not too concerned. However, I wanted to start a bit more filtering on the edge.
I enabled the firewall on the Cisco, and after a few days, I noticed the speeds hover at 30mb/s. Speedtest after Speedtest, it did not matter, the speed was the same. In early August, I contacted my provider, who also provides a Cisco 851 for my network access, and asked them to swap some gear and test for me. Sure enough, they swapped the 851 for a 867VAE. They performed their tests from that new router they got the full speed. Hooked up the old Cisco behind the new router, and the speeds fell to 30mb/s. We identified the culprit!
I had a choice, eBay a bigger, more power hungry Cisco, or find something that is enterprise class, but, not as expensive. After looking at Mikrotik (which is very good BTW), I settled on the EdgeMAX Lite by Ubiquiti.
The price and the performance have been very good! The initial set up and upgrade of the firmware to 1.5.0 was challenging, but once that was done, the network speeds have improved. I now run the same configuration as the Cisco, Firewall and NAT enabled, and get 60mb/s all the time. The CPU on the machine sits around 6% when at full speed here. This is the new model with the proper venting, so, I expect it to perform really quite well for the next while.
If you are suffering from poor Internet speed, and you have a fast connection like we do, seriously consider the EdgeMAX Lite (ERL). The price and performance cannot be beat!