Wireless networking, commonly called WiFi, is everywhere. With more and more devices created with wireless capabilities, it is essential to have reliable access to wireless access. However, this year has proved to be a significant test with Zoom, Teams, VoIP, and other systems, putting major strains on our signal strengths. While WiFi has come leaps and bounds since its humble beginnings, allowing for revolutionary flexibility options, we are realizing that convenience does not always provide the best results. In this article, we are exploring the reasons to choose Ethernet cables over WiFi.
What is Ethernet
Ethernet is a realm of technology that pretty much every network runs through today. While a WiFi connection transmits data via wireless signals, Ethernet connection transmits data over cable. In other words, Ethernet is the system we use to connect computer systems to form a local area network, ensuring faster connection and greater reliability and security.
Differences Between Ethernet and WiFi
When setting up your network, you have a choice between a wired Ethernet connection, a wireless access point, or a combination of the two. Since it is typical for wireless routers to include multiple Ethernet ports, oftentimes, you have the flexibility to try both, providing for some devices to hardwire in, as opposed to connecting through WiFi. This arrangement of different nodes in a network and the communication between them is known as your network topology.
Nowadays, many modern devices are WiFi enabled as well as designed with an Ethernet port, providing you with an option to choose your preferred method of accessing the Internet. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind as you prepare to make a connection choice, as both WiFi and Ethernet have pros and cons.
The Benefits of Wireless
The speed differences aside, the main distinction is that wireless allows numerous devices to connect over a single access point, without being restricted by the number of Ethernet ports or physical distance from the router or modem. This means that WiFi can be available for a large number of guests who all carry mobile devices. This also allows those who connect to your network to share data and access local devices and storage.
The Flip Side of Wireless
On the flip side, the generally reliable wireless signals can be subjected to interference from other objects and devices that broadcast on the radio spectrum. Depending on location and proximity to other radio transmitting devices, wireless may not always perform at a consistently reliable level. Also, the convenience of allowing many devices to connect to one access point easily creates more work for the router and can negatively impact your network performance. Since the number of devices connecting to a single access point is not limited by the number of physical access points on the router, wireless networks can be prone to slowdowns due to high traffic. They are also vulnerable to security threats if not properly secured.
What Makes Ethernet Better?
In contrast, the direct dedicated connection provided by Ethernet is more reliable and, in most cases, faster. Using an Ethernet connection removes some of the interference and other factors that can affect network speeds, which can help you squeeze the highest possible speeds out of your connection.
Using an Ethernet connection removes some of the interference and other factors that can affect network speeds, which can help you squeeze the highest possible speeds out of your connection.
Also, since the device must be directly hardwired into the router or modem to access your network, it reduces the security risk of other nearby devices discovering and connecting to your network.
Ethernet’s apparent downside is that it relies upon being physically linked to a modem or a router. Also, an Ethernet only network excludes WiFi only devices, including most cell phones, tablets, and some new models of laptops.
Questions To Ask Yourself When Determining Your Network Needs
There are several topics to consider when determining your network needs, and it is always worthwhile to consult a trustworthy IT partner before you make your choice. Generally, the essential points you should address are: speed, quality, reliability, convenience, and security.
The first question you should ponder is how many devices you are looking to connect to the network. If the answer is one, and that device is a desktop or laptop computer with an Ethernet port, you may not need a router and could connect directly to your modem to access the Internet.
Secondly, you may wish to consider what types of devices you are looking to connect. Are there any devices that cannot connect to the Internet via Ethernet cable? You will need to consider setting up a WiFi local area network in your office (or home).
Lastly, but by no means least, you will have to consider the responsibility of properly securing your network if you choose wireless. This is an important consideration, as an unsecured wireless network poses a significant risk to all the devices connecting to it. On the other hand, an Ethernet network can only be accessed by physically attaching a device to the network, and therefore it is less exposed to interception.
Here, at Millennium Group, we are a leading provider of network solutions. If you have any questions or if you are unsure of the reasons to choose Ethernet cables over WiFi, contact us today and we will be happy to discuss.