Today’s technology depends on Internet capabilities. Whether the Internet connection is wired or wireless, it is expected that the connection works reliably.

By Nick Rojas

Internet is in our homes, our workplaces, and even around town. Connecting to the Internet is never too hard, but there are 2 different ways it can be done. You can connect wirelessly or with a wired connection (Ethernet). Both options have positives and negatives, which we will cover in this article.

Be sure your electrical system is up to date in order to accommodate your Internet system. You do not want a fuse to blow or something else to go wrong and put your Internet out of commission.

The Basics

Modern wired networking involves an Ethernet cable. This cable, that doesn’t look dissimilar to a telephone landline cable, runs from your modem or router directly to a device you wish to connect to the Internet.

Wireless network connection, WiFi, requires no physical cable. The Internet signal comes into your home, for instance, through your modem and router and is then turned into wireless Internet. WiFi means you can be connected to the Internet just by joining a network, no cables required.

Network Speed Difference

Modern Ethernet connections can reach speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second, while WiFi connections generally top out around 1 gigabit per second. Ethernet does reach higher top speeds, but 1 gigabit per second is still faster than what most consumers need.

Wired Ethernet reaches higher top speeds and has an easier time maintaining that top speed. Wired connections are less prone to radio interference, resulting in fewer lost packets that would need to be retransmitted. Because of this, a wired connection is preferred when using business applications where reliability and speed are crucial. A wired connection is also preferred by video game players who want to avoid latency issues to ensure they aren’t at a disadvantage.

Mobility

A wired Ethernet connection is a physical connection, which acts as a tether. This means that you can only move your connected device as far as the cable can go. You can run Ethernet through your house if the device you need to connect is on the other side of the house, but this does take some work. Running cables through your walls is not a quick task and the cables need to be managed properly to prevent degradation.

A WiFi connection has no tether. The only physical limit to WiFi is the range of the connection. WiFi generally will not cover an entire house or office, meaning you have bubbles of connection and areas without connection. You can add signal repeaters to make the WiFi signal extend, but it is recommended that you install more routers in rooms you need a connection instead.

Security

The security of a home Ethernet network is mainly dependent on a firewall. Most routers come with a firewall and additional firewalls can be added on devices. Since all data passes through the Ethernet cables, your data is only as safe as the router the cables are connected to. So long as your router is covered by a firewall, your wired connection will be safe.

Wireless Internet has some great features, but they can be overshadowed by the lower security prowess. An unsecured wireless network can be easily compromised by a hacker leaving your data for them to take. The risk of your network being attacked is real, but there are some simple steps you can take to protect your network. Using a password on your wireless network is the most basic protection you can add. Make it harder to access your network to deter criminals.

Best of Both

There is a simple way you can get the best of both wired and wireless connections. Most routers have Ethernet ports on the back so you can hard line the devices that need the more stable connection and still have WiFi for your other devices. This is a good system for people with multiple devices that need Internet. Since most tablets and phones have no way of plugging into an Ethernet cable, they are dependent on WiFi. So, you can keep the WiFi running while plugging in the devices you want to use Ethernet.

An Internet connection is nearly a necessity for modern life. There are 2 main ways you can connect; wired or wireless. Ethernet vs WiFi is mainly a debate over what matters most to you. Ethernet wins in terms of speed and reliability, but loses to WiFi in mobility and the ability to connect more than one device to the network. However, you can have the best of both worlds.

Nick Rojas combines 20 years of experience working with and consulting for small to medium business and a passion for journalism to help readers grow. He writes about technology, marketing, and social media for the aspiring entrepreneur. When Nick is not sharing his expertise, he can be found spending time at the beach with his dog Presto. Twitter:@NickARojas.

Network stock photo by Teguh Jati Prasetyo/Shutterstock