To physically plug in your computer to the Internet or to use the air waves to connect to the net — more popularly recognized as Wi-Fi — is a good question to ask with many good answers, but it comes down to what you need out of your Internet connection.
An Ethernet connection is a wired connection from one network device (like your computer) to another network device. This wired connection is usually made of copper with some form of shielding.
Some Ethernet wires are even designed to take harsh weather conditions. Ethernet connections come in many different sizes and can be cut and made into any length you want, with 329 feet usually being the limit of a single long Ethernet cord.
A Wi-Fi connection is where one network device connects with another network device by sending wireless signals.
The distance that a Wi-Fi signal can travel is based on the strength of the signal, type of signal, and the objects and walls between both Wi-Fi devices. There are different type of wireless signals like N signal, G signals, and AC signals which can have a large impact on distance and quality of signal.
The benefits of using Wi-Fi are that you don’t have wires restricting where you can place your computer. This is especially useful if you need to move to different locations in a home or office without losing your Internet connection.
Wi-Fi is easy to share with others as you don’t need an Ethernet cord for each device that wants access. Your router can still have a limit of how many connections can connect, however.
The disadvantages of using Wi-Fi are that it can be very unsecure and have performance issues with maintaining speed or connections.
Public Wi-Fi connections can be compromised or falsified, causing everyone using the signal to have their data stolen. I avoid using public Wi-Fi signals as it can cost me all my credentials for websites I use. The benefits of using an Ethernet connection is that it is the most consistent and fastest connection you can have with another network device, providing consistent speed.
Ethernet connections are physical and can easily keep track of who is connected to the network and where. Ethernet speeds do not slow down with distance or obstacles. If you can plug an Ethernet cord in, the speed difference between a long cord and a small cord is negligible.
The disadvantages of using Ethernet cords is that if the cord is cut or damage, you most likely need to replace the whole Ethernet wire.
It can be tricky to conceal Ethernet wiring and require holes to be drilled throughout the building. You usually cannot move Ethernet wires along with you if you are using a laptop.
What it really comes down to between using Wi-Fi and Ethernet is if you favor security and speed or if you favor convenience and sharing.
If you need a secure environment with fast Internet speeds, you want to use a wired gigabit Ethernet connection.
If you need many strangers, family, or friends to connect easily and you need access in many rooms without hassle, you want to use a Wi-Fi connection.
Choose what is best for your business or home; if you have any questions, reach us at (734) 457-5000 and we can help you narrow down your choices.