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I'm currently studying for the CCNA certifications (especially for Cisco routers and configuration). I know that business routers provide more features than SOHO routers, the processing speed and RAM can be enough.

Assume I need to connect a number of users through a network (accessing internet, share files, printers, ...). I have a high speed connection to the internet and I already applied QoS.

  • How can I find out how many users such a single (SOHO) router could handle? In my case I'd attach to it multiple switches until I have the number of ports needed. Would everything work well and smoothly with 50 users? What about 300? At which point would I need a business router instead?

  • If I implemented VLAN here, would it make any difference in the performance?

  • When do I really need to use more than one router? (Both SOHO and business) I'm thinking that I may need them only if I want to increase the performance (instead of replacing the existing one) and if I have multiple locations, so in this situation I need to have multiple routers, right? Put differently: Is there is a need to have another router if my business all in one place?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

How can I find out how many users such a single (SOHO) router could handle?

How long is a piece of string?

There's no way to know. If those users send 1 byte per day, most SOHO routers could handle a million user. I can single-handedly overpower an older Linksys router. Most situations will be somewhere in between.

If I implemented VLAN here, would it make any difference in the performance?

Mostly no, vlan tags do add headers in trunks, and there's some processing overhead.. but no.

When do I really need to use more than one router?

When you need redundancy. And the types of routers that can work as part of a cluster are generally very expensive. It depends a bit on what you're requirements are for the redundancy. It's a range, as in "can be working again soon" at one end, and "instantaneous and unnoticeable fail-over" at the other.

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How long is a piece of string? Twice the distance from the center to one end. – Keltari Aug 28 '12 at 11:55

Like Chris said, there is not an easy one size fits all answer, but I will give my humble opinion on the matter speaking from experience. A SOHO router is really IMO only intended for very small networks with not much throughput, as they have very little RAM and very low processor speeds. You can upgrade certain models (ex, Linksys WRT54G) by installing DD-WRT, to give better reliability, and unlock additional features, however I would still never install one of these in a production environment. Either spend the money for the real stuff, or build a router using pfSense, m0n0wall, smoothwall, ipcop, etc... Simple answer is, off the shelf retail routers will be fine for practically any home network, but when it comes to business, go with enterprise grade... IMO

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