My workplace has two WAN links, one of which we use as a backup. Both links terminate as Cat5. Unfortunately, we've had bad luck with "dual-WAN" routers, so our current failover plan is to unplug our consumer-class router from one modem and plug it into the other modem. Elegant, I know, but we're a small business, and BGP isn't really an option.

I'm looking for recommendations for a higher quality router that can automatically failover to a working WAN connection. The router needs to be able to handle at least 100 Mbps of throughput. A built-in firewall and DHCP server would be nice but probably isn't required.

We've already tried solutions from Linksys, Xincom, and Netgear and found them lacking. I can't get anyone from Peplink on the phone and that makes me uncomfortable. I've looked at routers from Cisco, HP, and Juniper, but don't really know what features are required to allow automatic WAN failover, or how I would go about actually configuring it.

Our budget is $3K USD max.

Thanks in advance for your help.

  • What are your two connections ISDN, Cable, DSL, T? how much of a budget do you have?
    – Zypher
    Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 1:34
  • One is municipal fiber (cat5 from the box), the other is cable (cat5 from the modem, obviously). Budget is $3K maximum.
    – Jon
    Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 1:53
  • you're paying for two WAN links that can handle 100Mbs of traffic each and want to skimp on the routers?
    – Rex
    Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 16:32
  • I suspect you mean, both terminate as IP over Ethernet, not as Cat5. I can run audio connections over Cat5 if i want, it's just a cable specification. Says nothing about the protocols on top. Commented Nov 28, 2010 at 20:31

8 Answers 8


A pair of Cisco ASA 5505's will do this in a number of different ways. The simplest would be to have an ASA plugged into each of your ISP connections, designate one as primary, then configure the secondary to kick in if the primary link goes down. This also gives you hardware redundancy which you won't get with a single server (which is pretty much all your Dual-WAN routers were).

Chapter 10 of the Cisco Press Cisco ASA book (ISBN: 978-1-58705-819-6) describes the config pretty well, and I am sure you can find a Cisco partner who will take you through it at reasonable cost.

You might also be able to do something with HSRP/VRRP on two routers connected via a switch, and a good network engineer. Better than me, as I can't tell you how to do it :-)


Take a look at open source Zentyal 2.0 it has multiple WAN with load balancing and automatic fail over.

By the way, Mister IT Guru, can you tell me the way ClearOS checks the availability of WAN links?


You can do that with a server with dual ethernet cards and some routing/scripting using Linux or BSD.


For professional usage I can recommend the routers from Viprinet.

They can bundle a lot of different links (ADSL, ISDN, UMTS, FastEthernet) to one, big channel. The traffic can also be loadbalanced to all links, so that you can use the complete bandwidth of all links.

Take a closer look to the entry model 300, this one should fit your needs.

Best regards, Phil.


You might want to take a look at something called ClearOS.

We have two WANS from different providers, and the WAN fail over has a latency of about 20 seconds, from main link to fall back link


I've used routers from Peplink (http://www.peplink.com/) and Ecessa (http://www.ecessa.com/)

Both provide load-balancing and failover and, if you are hosting servers inside your network, DNS services.

The Ecessa products are more expensive (~$2k to start), but the support is based in the US and excellent when I've needed it.

Peplink has agressive pricing (2x WAN $295, 3x WAN $395), but seems to offer all the same basic features with a slightly more confusing interface (IMO). They also offer bigger boxes, but I don't have direct experience with those.

Both are good products, all depends on what your needs are. I got into the Ecessa product line 5+ years ago when they were the only reliable vendor (ie still in business) for multi-WAN products that didn't require BGP.

If you have any questions, please let me know.




2 options I'd consider are: 1) pfSense based solution running on whatever hardware you choose, or 2) routerboard running routerOS

Both options are very inexpensive and also give you the option to double them up so you get router redundancy too.

1) Under the pfSense features page:

Load Balancing Outbound Load Balancing Outbound load balancing is used with multiple WAN connections to provide load balancing and failover capabilities. Traffic is directed to the desired gateway or load balancing pool on a per-firewall rule basis.

2) Mikrotik RouterOS way. http://wiki.mikrotik.com/wiki/Load_Balancing_over_Multiple_Gateways

You should be able to put either together for under 1K and it'll be reliable (at least as reliable as the hardware you choose to run RouterOS or pfSense that is.

I've used a ~$150 router board with great success on a smallish LAN. But also, at my old workplace we used to use the higher end (but still only around $350) routerboards for our data center and they never crashed and provided services for hundreds of clients!

I think cisco are good, but a bit expensive and their licence model is just out to make money and lock you into their platform. Mikrotik routerOS can run on other hardware at least. And at least it's not too expensive. It's also really easy to configure with winbox. RouterOS is Linux based. pfSense which I really like too is BSD based.

EDIT: http://routerboard.com/pricelist.php?showProduct=57

  • The Cisco ASA 5505 isn't super expensive, and for the purposes of the question, the included license covers the features required, and doesn't have any locking for basic Firewall/routing functionality. Only when you want to start using them for SSL VPN does it start to get prohibitive. pfSense and m0n0wall are good options though. I've looked into running firewalls on miniITX systems (which is pretty close to what an ASA 5505 is!) and it looks like a nice option. But the cost of hardware and time add up to close to buying from Cisco or other vendors...
    – dunxd
    Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 12:15
  • @dunxd - RouterOS is extremely easy to get a basic setup. But so is pfSense. The Mikrotik routerboards are very inexpensive. My friend who runs and owns his own ISP business uses them as his core routers with hundreds of users behind them. THey are robust and not as expensive as Cisco, and you get those extra features like SSL VPN if you want at no extra cost. But I must say I do have a liking for pfSense because it's even easier to set up and can run on commodity hardware.
    – hookenz
    Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 20:32

The Peplink are pretty decent. I would try to email them and see if that works. See if their live demo helps.


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