When it comes to getting work done, do you remember the 1990s, when the web wasn't even part of your lives, or a pre-email 1980s? Thank your lucky stars—and your IT guy—for the router that now keeps you connected.
Likewise, consider the server storing all your files. Without servers and network attached storage (NAS) devices we'd be emailing, FTPing, Slacking, or whatever transfer of files makes life livable in an age of high collaboration. The central storage of a server makes sharing a breeze, and the modern servers/NAS also make it easy to share more than just documents—you can stream media, even out to the internet for remote access, with the right setup.
Servers and routers are the topic of this month's Business Choice, ancillary answers conducted as part of this month's Readers' Choice survey for consumer products in the same categories. Read on to see which networking vendors provide the goods suitable for offices large and small.
You can be part of Business Choice! Sign up for the Readers' Choice Survey mailing list to receive invitations in the future.
Looking for expert opinion? Check out our roundup of the Best Wireless Routers and 10 Things Business Owners Should Know Before Buying NAS Devices.
Routers for Work
Like last year, we took a dip in the polls overall of people rating work routers, leaving our previous top rated vendor, Asus, behind since it didn't earn enough ratings to be included.
Thankfully, Netgear is ready to step into the limelight. Whereas last year it tied with Cisco for a second place finish with an 8.2 (out of a score of 0 to 10, with 10 being the best), Netgear jumped up to an 8.5 in overall satisfaction this year. A similar score for the likelihood to recommend Netgear products to colleagues, and an excellent 8.9 for overall reliability, made Netgear the big winner for 2017 when it comes to work routers.
Cisco likewise had an increase, shooting up a tenth of a point to 8.3 overall—but it actually outscored Netgear when it comes to reliability with a 9.0, and the likelihood to be recommended at 8.7. Even its tech support rating is higher—though a lot more Cisco products actually needed tech support and repairs than the other vendors that placed in our results. That said, the scores show that you'll probably be happy with a Cisco router—a name that's synonymous with networking and internet connectivity in big offices.
Third place this year belongs to Linksys, not too far behind its former owner Cisco (the Linksys brand is now owned and operated by Belkin.) It also had a slight increase in its overall score and managed to have the fewest products that needed repairs at 29 percent, ahead of Netgear and Cisco.
WINNERS: WORK ROUTERS
NetgearWith almost across-the-board score increases in every category, Netgear steps into the spotlight for the first time as a Business Choice selection for workplace routers, as determined by the readers of PCMag.
Servers/NAS Devices for Work
Look at the chart from last year and you won't see much difference in 2017 except slightly better numbers. Taiwan's Synology continues its streak of performing high in the minds of PCMag readers, both at home and at the office.
Synology's overall score shot from a 9.0 last year to a 9.2 for overall satisfaction; it also earned an incredible 9.5 in reliability (up from last year's 9.0) and went up for tech support and likelihood to recommend (the latter rated so high, with another 9.5, that the NetPromoter Score based on the same number is an almost record high 84 percent.)
The only place Synology fell was that more people needed tech support (68 percent) and repairs (37 percent) than last year.
In second place with similar increases is Dell; it got a fantastic 8.5 overall score, though its likelihood to be recommended to colleagues fell to an 8.0 from last year's 8.4. Western Digital comes in third with the same 8.0 overall score it had last year and slight dips in other areas. Lost to us in this year's results due to not enough responses: Seagate.
WINNERS: SERVERS/NETWORK ATTACHED STORAGE
SynologyIt's been a long time since any vendor besides Synology impressed PCMag's readership with network storage capabilities. From the looks of the scores it earned here, it may be years again before anyone else comes close to equaling it.
We email survey invitations to PCMag.com community members, specifically subscribers to our Readers' Choice Survey mailing list. The surveys was hosted by Equation Research, which also performs our data collection. This survey was in the field from March 13 through April 2, 2017.
Respondents were asked to rate their routers and NAS devices using multiple questions about their overall satisfaction with the solution, as well as experiences with technical support within the past 12 months.
Because the goal of the survey is to understand how the email marketing solutions compare to one another and not how one respondent's experience compares to another's, we use the average of the email marketing solutions' rating, not the average of every respondent's rating. In all cases, the overall ratings are not based on averages of other scores in the table; they are based on answers to the question, "Overall, how satisfied are you with your router (or NAS)?"
Scores not represented as a percentage are on a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is the best.
Net Promoter Scores are based on the concept introduced by Fred Reichheld in his 2006 best seller , The Ultimate Question, that no other question can better define the loyalty of a company's customers than "how likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?" This measure of brand loyalty is calculated by taking the percent of respondents who answered 9 or 10 (promoters) and subtracting the percent who answered 0 through 6 (detractors). (For more, read PCMag's Top Consumer Recommended Companies for 2016.)
If you would like to participate in PCMag's monthly Readers' Choice surveys and to be eligible for our monthly sweepstakes promotion, please sign up today.