How to Choose the Best Mesh Wireless System For Your Home


| How-To

Page 3: Software: Intrusion/Malware Protection, and Parental Controls

The Tri-Band Linksys Velop units stand tall and can often blend in well with other items in your home.

Software: Intrusion and Malware Protection

The more devices we have in our home, the greater the chances that one of them will get compromised and start doing something undesirable. For most of us this is largely a question of when, not if. The good news is that our routers are in a perfect position to detect, report, and even stop this activity. Even better news is that some routers are able to do exactly this!

  • Amped ALLY: ALLY has built-in AVG Security that provides protection against malware and phishing attacks, alerting you if/when there are issues.
  • eero: eero offers basic protection for everyone, including automatic detection and blocking of suspicious devices. Their $9.99/month (or $99/year) eero Plus service, available for all eero hardware, adds anti-malware, anti-phishing, anti-ransomware, and anti-virus.
  • Google Wifi: Not currently supported.
  • Linksys Velop: Not currently supported.
  • Luma: Malware and intrusion protection are built-in, and will alert the user via the smartphone app when a security threat is detected or blocked. The new, $5/month Luma Guardian service adds outbound VPN and antivirus features.
  • Netgear Orbi: Not currently supported.
  • Plume: Not currently supported.
  • TP-Link Deco: Deco includes a full-featured “Antivirus” system with a malicious content filter and intrusion protection system, and will quarantine infected devices. The entire Antivirus system is powered by Trend Micro’s database and is automatically updated every day. A three-year Trend Micro subscription is included with every Deco package sold, after which users would have to activate with a monthly fee.
  • Ubiquiti AmpliFi HD: Not currently supported.

Advice: This will become more and more important as time goes on. I don’t yet consider this a make-or-break feature, but it’s close. The good news is that it’s available on enough units that most folks will be able to get all the other features they want and have some level of intrusion and malware protection, too.

Software: Parental Controls

The term “Parental Controls” can mean a lot of different things, but at its most basic – and common – level, it means allowing you to set profiles for each person in your house, assigning all of that person’s devices to their profile. Then you can pause or resume any given person’s internet access, either manually or on a set schedule. Some devices go beyond this with packet inspection and active category filtering, as well.

  • Amped ALLY: In addition to a standard profiles-based feature, ALLY also supports blocking specific apps and site/service categories from specific profiles, providing a very comprehensive parental controls feature.
  • eero: eero includes a basic profile-based system by default. With an eero Plus subscription, you can get a little more granular with these controls.
  • Google Wifi: Basic profile-based feature included.
  • Linksys Velop: Velop supports a standard, profile-based parental control model, and adds to that the ability to block up to 10 specific website URLs per user.
  • Luma: Luma employs a standard profiles feature, and enhances it with a content filter that uses a G/PG/PR-13/R, movie-style rating to let you decide what types of content each user can access.
  • Netgear Orbi: Orbi uses Disney’s Circle for parental controls. Circle comes in both a free and $4.99/month Premium version. The free version allows filters, pause, and history for every user in the family. Premium adds things like Time Limits on apps/people, bedtime, rewards, and usage tracking.
  • Plume: Parental controls are possible via a clever password-based profile setup.
  • TP-Link Deco: Profiles and time limits are supported in a fashion similar to the others, and in addition Deco contains a content filter that lets you not only filter from a pre-set list content categories, but also lets you configure the filter to block specific websites and apps on a per-user basis, too.
  • Ubiquiti AmpliFi HD: Parental Controls let you set quiet time for specific devices/profiles.

Advice: Most people we surveyed don’t seem to use or need any sort of parental controls, but for some this is a necessary feature. For us, the Amped ALLY and TP-Link Deco have the best out-of-box controls, and an eero Plus subscription brings that product up-to-speed, as well.

Table of Contents

  1. Summary Chart, Hardware: Streams/Antennas/Radios, and Ethernet Backhaul
  2. Software: QoS and BufferBloat Protection, Band Steering and Access Point Steering, and Cloud vs. Local Management
  3. Software: Intrusion/Malware Protection, and Parental Controls
  4. Geekier Features, Buying Advice, and Article Changelog

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jkdawson
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jkdawson

I got the two node Orbi system for a little over $200 back in Black November and it has been great. The three node (AC3000) system is regularly available at Costco for for about $300. A friend of mine put one of those in his more challenging for wifi home and it has also worked out very well. In both cases, wifi performance now matches the performance of ethernet direct to the cable modem anywhere in the house. The Orbi app and admin web page both are mediocre. Strangely, there are some functions one can only do on the app… Read more »

Member
curtisflloyd

Great article. With the demise of Apple’s offering, the search for a worthy replacement has been daunting. This article definitely helps. However, I recently switched to CenturyLink fiber 1Gbs service. I’m told I don’t need a modem if the router supports PPoE and VLAN tagging. Do any of these mesh systems support those?

davidson
Member
davidson

Thank you so much for info!

dth-boise
Member
dth-boise

Nice article. Can you also visit how well Apple AirPlay works with the various mesh Wi-Fi systems? I installed Google WiFi and it substantially degraded the Airply performance between a newer iPad and older Apple TV located just 3 feet away.

Member
Seran Seran

thanks for that  

Azcaddyshak
Member
Azcaddyshak

In the conclusion, you cited Plume’s adaptive management service as one of the features that earned Plume its recommendation. However, I have scanned the article (albeit from my phone) and cannot find any mention of such a service. Can you help me by pointing to what I am missing?

Member
Mary Lovato

thanks for that 

theweekend99
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theweekend99

Thanks for this article! 🙂

amazon004
Member
amazon004

thnkew for sharing this info 

Jay7
Member
Jay7

Great article, Dave! Thanks! I currently use a Time Capsule to do Time Machine backups and I have a couple of questions… 1. Are any of these units easier (or harder) to connect a Time Capsule to in order to continue backups? And, how is that connection made? 2. My Time Machine is starting to give me occasional issues, and so it might be on it’s way out. Do any of these mesh units allow easily connecting a hard drive (via either USB or ethernet) in order to do Time Machine backups that way? If so, which units allow that,… Read more »

pjs_boston
Member
pjs_boston

My setup uses an 802.11n Apple Time Capsule and an 802.11n AirPort Extreme connected in bridge mode using Ethernet backhaul. It covers my entire house and seems to work quite well.

I’m wondering if a newer mesh network would deliver any meaningful performance improvements compared to my legacy Apple setup.

Member
Edward Stavick

With the app release of version 2.17, eero introduced a new section in the app called eero Labs as well as the first feature in Smart Queue Management (SQM). This seems like their QoS implementation at the moment. Here’s what it does per Jeff, an eero Community Manager, unlike traditional QoS, which only allows specific devices to receive priority bandwidth at the expense of others, SQM works automatically across your whole system – removing confusing manual steps from the process, and making the overall internet experience better at any given moment. This means all devices can benefit from better queue… Read more »

Black_Dog
Member
Black_Dog

I installed the 3-unit TP-Link mesh in January 2018. While I have not tested all of the others, it works fantastically well with great coverage over our 2,850 sqft two-story home. In fact, there’s no where on our 5th acre lot that we cannot get reception, and it only weakens in the furthest corners of the lot. I would guess we are an average use home for which the network supports a desktop, a laptop, a couple iPads, three AppleTVs, two Apple Watches, four iPhones, and half a dozen HomeKit light devices. Only issue is that after three month one… Read more »

maersk777
Member
maersk777

Truly shines a very fact-based light on the this emerging home network technology, and the vendor offerings. Everything else that I’ve read up until this point has been opinion first – then only the facts that support that opinion. Thanks.

Member
krispucci

Huawei has also just recently announced their solution in this space.

https://www.cnet.com/news/huawei-wifi-q2-thinks-its-solved-wireless-router-problem/

pjs_boston
Member
pjs_boston

I’ll pass on anything from ZTE or Huawei. I’m not interested in having the Chinese government monitor my internet connection.

NicevilleSteve
Member
NicevilleSteve

To Mesh or not to Mesh that is the question. Dave, I just finished reading your excellent 2017 blog addressing Mesh networking and I like the use of tables to highlight their capabilities. My 2-story 4,000 ft. home has an Ethernet backbone and I currently use two 802.11ac Airport Extremes and an 802.11n Airport Express to seamlessly cover my home in Wi-Fi. I am going to update my connection with a DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem and am considering an upgrade my wireless network. You have spoken highly of the Synology Router RT2600ac capabilities and I notice they have a web… Read more »

Member
krispucci

Great article. Very comprehensive compared to the others that I have read.

Might be useful to add a section pertaining to integration with voice assistants such as Alexa or Google Assistant.

I have also come across Plume which is another option. https://www.plumewifi.com/

I hope these come down in price as they are all very expensive in CAD dollars.

Member
Darren Trotman

Hi Dave,

Will any of these work with Strong VPN (Open VPN) or any VPN service provider?

jsafire
Member
jsafire

What about port-forwarding? I need this for remote access to fam and friends’ networks 8-| I assume these devices all have this capability but, I don’t see it mentioned – unless you’ve called it something else and it’s just not obvious to me. Thanks for a most excellent review, Dave.
Jeff