Millions of people around the world are now working from home as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect workers in every corner of the globe. For many people, the transition was logistically simple as they already had the necessary equipment at home. However, not everyone was prepared to work from home, and they are struggling with technical issues on top of adjusting to social distancing. One of the most common questions people working from home are facing is the decision between a wired and wireless Internet connection. While the Internet service in your walls and telecom fuses won’t be altered by your connection method, there are differences between a wired versus a wireless Internet connection.
Defining Wired and Wireless Connections
Before we can delve into the pros and cons of wired and wireless Internet connections, we must define each connection type.
A wireless Internet connection is rather self-explanatory and is commonly known as WiFi. A wireless or WiFi connection does not mean there are no cables or wires involved; it only means no cables are connecting your computer to the source of your Internet connection. Your modem and router must still be plugged into your wall Ethernet port to generate a WiFi signal that your computer can then connect wirelessly. The vast majority of today’s computers come with WiFi capability, but if you custom-built a desktop, there is the possibility that your motherboard did not come with WiFi. If you are unsure if your motherboard supports WiFi, check the back IO panel for antenna connectors. If your motherboard does not support WiFi, there are various inexpensive USB or PCIe adapters that, once you download the requisite drivers, will let your computer connect to WiFi.
A wired connection relies on a physical Ethernet cable to connect to the Internet, which means you must run a cable from your router and connect it to the Ethernet port on your computer. Most computers come with an Ethernet port, but as laptops become thinner and WiFi becomes more reliable, some manufacturers are abandoning Ethernet ports. However, there are USB Ethernet adapters that will allow laptops without Ethernet ports to use a wired connection.
Both connections methods will connect you to the Internet, but there are also other ways of connecting. In the past, dial-up was the only way to connect to the Internet and is still available in some areas. 5G or 4G lets you connect your smartphone to the Internet by using your data plan instead of a wireless network. Wired and wireless connections are the most common ways of connecting to the Internet, but other options still exist. You can also get the best of both worlds by using a wired connection for your desktop, and a wireless connection for your phone as most router and modem combinations offer both connection types.
Wired Connection Pros and Cons
Wired Internet connections may be more irritating to set up than a wireless connection, but the annoyance may be worth the benefits. Wired connections are more secure, faster, and easier to control than wireless connections. Devices must be physically wired into the network, which makes it much harder for hackers to breach and makes wired connections ideal for people concerned with privacy. The physical connection also means you know exactly who is using your network, and anyone looking to piggyback will have a hard time. Wired connections are also faster than wireless connections as a WiFi signal can be interrupted by outside interference, but a hardline connection won’t be affected.
There are several reasons to use a wired connection, but this method is not without its drawbacks. Physically running cables throughout your home is time-consuming, and unless you dedicate more time to cable management, you may be left with visible ugly cables. The same limitations that make a wired connection secure also make it troublesome to expand. Connecting a new device to a wired network means running more cables. The hassle may be worth the benefits, but wireless has the edge for pure convenience.
Wireless Connection Pros and Cons
A wireless or WiFi network wins the convenience award as once your router and modem are configured, you can connect any WiFi-enabled device in a matter of minutes. Wireless networks usually only require you to enter the network name and password on your device to connect. Some public WiFi networks don’t even need a password. Connecting to and expanding a wireless network is easy, but using a wireless network is even easier. The lack of physical cables means you can take your device anywhere within the network’s range, making a wireless connection more flexible than a wired connection.
A wireless connection is convenient, but that convenience comes at a price. Wireless connections are less secure, and hackers can compromise your network even with a strong password. Wireless networks are also slower than wired connections because the WiFi signal can be interrupted. Large files may take longer to transfer over a wireless network, and the less robust security makes transferring confidential data over a wireless connection riskier.
Choosing between a wireless and a wired Internet connection comes down to personal preferences. Wired networks are more secure and faster, but they take longer to set up and are harder to expand. Wireless networks are easy to use and grow but are less safe, which could leave private information vulnerable. Both methods will connect your devices to the Internet, but each offers different pros and cons.