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When setting up a home network, it helps to know the issues concerning a WiFi vs Wired connection. What are the strengths and weaknesses of both? Is it worth the extra cost and effort to set up a wired connection for every computer in the house?
Mobile Devices Really Need a WiFi Connection
Ease of connectivity is the major advantage WiFi connections hold over their wired brethren. In this age of mobile devices, connecting to a wireless router is effectively the only option for Internet access for a smartphone and tablet computer. And the wireless trend is also reaching some notebook computers, like the MacBook Air, which doesn’t even a have an Ethernet port for connecting to a wired network.
Advancements in wireless technology also provide better speeds that now compete with what Ethernet offers over a wired connection. The newer 802.11ac standard theoretically reaches speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, matching many Ethernet ports.
Wired Offers Some Advantages Over a Wireless Connection
Still, despite the relative convenience of a WiFi network, connecting to a wired network using a fast Ethernet port provides the most secure signal, with no radio interference or the potential of someone hacking a wireless router. Radio interference, while primarily a minor problem, does impact the speed of a connection and limits its range somewhat, especially in a larger house.
Of course, there is the extra cost involved in the cabling, ports, and effort needed to properly wire up an Ethernet network in a house. So that is an issue that must be considered when deciding between Ethernet and WiFi.
The Decision Between a WiFi vs Wired Connection
Ultimately, it depends on whether the speed and security of an Ethernet network is worth the extra setup cost as well as the inability for any mobile devices to connect. The growing number of smartphones and tablet computers in the home mean a WiFi network makes the most sense for the majority of consumers.
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Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.