We are pretty much living in a wireless connection world these days. We print to wireless printers, have our smartphones connected to Wi-Fi a good deal of the time, stream movies wirelessly, and enjoy multiple wireless IoT devices.
But, while wireless is definitely convenient, is it really the best setup for an office (home or traditional)? Can you get the same connectivity or performance from wireless as you can from a wired ethernet connection?
Anyone that’s had their wireless mouse go kaput in the middle of a busy day and had to stop everything to rush to the store for some batteries, knows that wireless isn’t always the best way to do things.
Let’s first look at the difference between how Wi-Fi and Ethernet work, then we’ll look at the pros and cons of using each one for your home office.
How Do Wi-Fi and Ethernet Differ?
Ethernet came first. Before wireless internet connection was available, people had to use a direct connection to their modem through a cable to get online.
This same type of connection is used to connect computers to servers to share data, as well as other resources. Entire computer networks have been powered by these wired connections for decades. This is why just about any computer or laptop you buy will have an Ethernet port.
Wi-Fi, which is short for Wireless Fidelity, came around well after Ethernet and completely revolutionized the way we use the internet. Without Wi-Fi, mobile devices most likely wouldn’t currently account for just over half of all internet traffic.
Instead of cables, Wi-Fi uses radio frequencies (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz) to send data wirelessly through the air. This mechanism makes it possible to stay connected to the internet without the need to be tethered to a cord connected to an internet service provider’s modem.
Pros & Cons of Wi-Fi
Benefits of Wi-Fi:
- Convenience: The most obvious benefit is the convenience factor of not needing to have a cable connected to a device and the modem to get online.
- Anywhere Access: Wi-Fi makes it possible to get online at places like airports, hotels, and coffee shops.
- No Messy Cords: When you don’t have cords, you don’t have to figure out where to put cords, so they don’t look messy.
Drawbacks of Wi-Fi:
- Slower Than Ethernet: A wired connection is faster than a wireless one. By a lot! Ethernet connections can be as fast as 10Gpbs+ (gigabytes per second), while Wi-Fi is usually less than 1Gpbs, and tops out at 6.9Gbps.
- Less Reliability: There are a number of things that can interfere with a wireless signal, such as microwaves, solid walls, and simply distance from the source. This makes the connection less reliable than Ethernet.
- Can Be More Easily Hacked: Wi-Fi networks are more easily hacked because a hacker can break into the network wirelessly. Additionally, data is traveling through the air and can be captured by the right device and software.
Pros & Cons of Ethernet
Benefits of Ethernet:
- Speed: With roughly ten times the speed of Wi-Fi, Ethernet is the hands-down winner if you want a fast connection for your computer, server, or other devices.
- Security: Your data on an Ethernet connection is contained and traveling through the cable, not through the air. This makes it much more difficult for a hacker to compromise your data because they would need physical access to your modem.
- No Spotty or Dropped Signals: Ethernet is a direct connection to your modem, so you don’t have to worry about signal interference causing dropped or weak connections.
Drawbacks of Ethernet:
- You Have Cables: You do have cables to deal with when using Ethernet. But if you keep your main PC, printer, or server in the same place, then it’s pretty easy to hide those cords out of the way.
- Not Great for Mobile Devices: While you can use an adapter to connect a mobile device to Ethernet, it’s not really going to be a great option for your smartphone, which may travel around your home or office throughout the day.
Bottom Line on Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi
The bottom line on Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi is that for a stronger, faster, and more secure connection, Ethernet is the way to go. It’s a great option for your main computer, printer, server, security cams, and any other devices that are not being moved around all day.
For things like your smartphone, iPad, or smart coffee maker, Wi-Fi is going to be the more convenient option.
Get the Perfect Network for Your Home Office!
Magnify247 helps Hamilton County residential and business customers with expert solutions for a solid internet connection. We can give you a great mix of wired and wireless solutions.
Contact us today to learn more about our networking solutions! Call 317-565-7094 or reach out online.