Home Networking – Wireless or Wired

by James Streep

There are several methods for networking your home or small office computers. The simplest and most cost effective home networks technologies we will look at today are Wired and Wireless networks and the Pro’s and Con’s of each.

Wired Networks
Wired networks are seen as the most stable and reliable form of networking by people as this technology has been around for a long time.

Wired networks are great to use when you have the space and ability to run network cables through your house. In return for this effort you get a secure and reliable network with good data transfer speeds. This means that you will be able to send information from one computer to another one quickly.

A wired network is seen as more secure as any malicious users will only be able to get into your systems through your external internet connection or by connecting a wire directly to your router, switch or hub. Even then this problem can be contained through the use of firewalls, sophisticated routers or in the later case by not letting strangers into your house who are trying to run a network cable to their machine.

A wired network is seen as more reliable as the signal is sent over wires and not broadcast over a relatively uncontrollable area. Your network speeds and quality are not affected by weather conditions, thickness of walls etc.

With a wired network you can expect speeds from between 10Mbps with older technology up to 1000Mbps with newer hardware. This allows for excellent data transfer speeds between machines allowing for fast sharing of data and files over your network.

The price for wired home networking hardware is extremely cheap as the technology has been around for a long time and there is a lot of competition from manufacturers keeping the prices down. You can get a basic router or network hub from £10 – £40 pounds that will allow you to share your internet connection and files across multiple machines. A basic network card should cost between £5-10 with the faster 1000Mbps cards costing from £5-£15 each.

Replacing faulty wiring can be tricky and expensive if you have hidden it away behind your walls. Another bad aspect of having wires is that each machine must have a wire running from it to the router or hub. This may be ok when you can have the wires hidden away in the bedroom or the office but what if you want to use your laptop in the middle of your kitchen or living room. Do you really want wires running across the floor causing potential trip hazards amongst other things?

Wireless networking offers many great advantages. The biggest advantage is portability. You can take your wireless laptop from your living room to your kitchen to your bedroom and still have access to all of your files and internet. This is great for using recipies from the internet right down to doing a little work in front of the TV.

Another advantage of going wireless is that you do not have to hide lots of wires going between your machines and router. This makes everything look tidier and more clutter free whilst also removing potential trip hazards from lots of loose cabling.

A wireless connection can be affected by many outside factors that you must take into consideration. A wireless signal can be seriously affected by the thickness of your walls, floors and also how many other wireless connections are in your area. With thick floors and walls your signals can become distorted or even wiped out causing problems transmitting and receiving information.

There are solutions on the market to increase the power of your wireless transmitters and receivers which would increase connectivity issues in the event that they occur.

Security is not a problem as such for wireless as long as you properly secure your network. The simplest form of protection is to use something called a WEP key. A WEP key is used on both the computer and wireless router and acts as a code between the two machines to keep data encrypted. If someone does not have the key they should not be able to access your network. There are further options available depending on your chosen wireless router to increase the level of security.

By not securing your wireless network you are essentially leaving the front door of your network and internet connection open to anyone who wishes to connect using their own wireless equipped computers.

Final Thoughts
As you can see, both technologies serve the same purpose but with different pro’s and con’s. If you are looking for an easy clutter free solution with increase mobility then I would recommend attempting a wireless network setup as long as you ensure that you set at least WEP encryption to protect your computers and internet connection from unauthorised access.

If you are looking for a slightly more secure and reliable connection then go with a wired setup. A wired setup should bring you faster networking speeds with the disadvantage of having to have wires running between devices.

About The Author
James Streep is a computing and networking specialist. He has been working with a UK based company Discs Express for several years and has been advising customers on computer hardware and network solutions. Discs Express are a specialist online retailer of computer hardware, peripherals, Ink cartridges and blank optical media. More information can be found at http://www.discsexpress.com

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