Wi-Fi Vs. Wired Homes

Three years ago when we had our house built, my wife and I were explicitly asked if we’d like to have it wired for CAT5/CAT6. Now understanding that I already had both home offices wired with dedicated circuits (for heavy usage), one might have thought that I would have opted to include the ability to have a clean wiring solution. Being an idiot, I opted against it because I figured I could save the money and potentially do it myself later on for much less. Well three years later and guess what? I still haven’t done it.

But what about wireless Internet instead?

Now this begs the question of why one might not just rely on using a WPA protected wireless network? Surely for most people this is plenty secure? Truth be told, it is. And I am able to get a great signal from all parts of the house as well. So for me, it’s just fine and not having done the hard wiring ended up working out after all. But for many people, depending on their home’s layout, a wired setup does have some appeal.

The biggest advantages include two huge considerations: security and speed. Security in that no one is going to be hacking passwords from within your neighborhood to steal access. Sure, someone could do some interception once data was going back and forth between your browser and the cloud, but it’s unlikely. The other factor is a stable, quick connection. Sure, there are some great 802.11n Wi-Fi solutions out there with plenty of speed. But for my money, nothing floors the power of a 20-down/20-up connection like a nice hardwired connection. My office gets this while my wife’s relies on Wi-Fi. Works well enough though.

Wi-Fi Vs Wired Homes
Photo by Justin Marty

Reliability considerations

A lot of folks may think that using a 802.11n connection will fit the bill for most folks. Excluding security and speed, what other things would someone want to be aware of? Price and reliability. Cost in that you may actually be able to get a great deal on some CAT6 without dealing with the reliability problems of the always flaky Wi-Fi connection. While my own Wi-Fi connections are pretty good, they’re still not as stable as a good old fashioned hardware link.

Consider this: you just set up a great Wi-Fi system, and you even installed a repeated to ensure that you have the best possible connection available. Awesome, you’re all set. Then a few hours later, you start noticing that the signal is dropping. Rare, but it can happen. So after spending all of that time setting up the wireless system, you find that things are a bit flaky. Now here is where this counts. If the Wi-Fi is for casual use throughout the house, no big deal. But if you’re working from home and it’s your primary connection, you may have a problem.

This isn’t a rant against Wi-Fi in the least; I’m pointing out that if this connection is a primary one, it’s best to go wired if at all possible. Trust me, the security, stability and speed make it all worthwhile. For laptops, however, it’s best to stick with the wireless connections. They do just fine there.

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  • Anonymous

    i still think that a wired connection is best for home networking imo. wireless connection has some good and bad points. i have always resetted my router every time when my wireless connection drops. got tired of this. wired is the way to go!

  • Anonymous

    i still think that a wired connection is best for home networking imo. wireless connection has some good and bad points. i have always resetted my router every time when my wireless connection drops. got tired of this. wired is the way to go!

  • http://twitter.com/MaxEvans Max Evans

    In my personal opinion, you should have both options. I use wireless, for every computer. I have yet to have any dropped connections, and I’m not even using an 802.11n adapter. It’s still 802.11g. And I get the exact same speed wireless as I do wired. I ran a test to figure this out, turned off wireless, connected wired did speed test, as well as did a speed test while on wireless. Both had the same speed up and down, with a few numbers different, but not enough to make a difference. It was like 14.2 and 14.5.

    It all comes down to personal preference. If you want wireless, go wireless. If you want wired, go wired. But I’d still have both options, just in case.

  • http://twitter.com/MaxEvans Max Evans

    In my personal opinion, you should have both options. I use wireless, for every computer. I have yet to have any dropped connections, and I’m not even using an 802.11n adapter. It’s still 802.11g. And I get the exact same speed wireless as I do wired. I ran a test to figure this out, turned off wireless, connected wired did speed test, as well as did a speed test while on wireless. Both had the same speed up and down, with a few numbers different, but not enough to make a difference. It was like 14.2 and 14.5.

    It all comes down to personal preference. If you want wireless, go wireless. If you want wired, go wired. But I’d still have both options, just in case.

  • http://twitter.com/MaxEvans Max Evans

    In my personal opinion, you should have both options. I use wireless, for every computer. I have yet to have any dropped connections, and I’m not even using an 802.11n adapter. It’s still 802.11g. And I get the exact same speed wireless as I do wired. I ran a test to figure this out, turned off wireless, connected wired did speed test, as well as did a speed test while on wireless. Both had the same speed up and down, with a few numbers different, but not enough to make a difference. It was like 14.2 and 14.5.

    It all comes down to personal preference. If you want wireless, go wireless. If you want wired, go wired. But I’d still have both options, just in case.

  • Dazzam

    If it’s easy enough to do, go wired for your server(s) media machine(s) and other desktops. And have the wifi for the laptop(s) iPhone/pad and other devices that don’t have an rj45(wii comes to mind here)

  • Mike

    I crawled under the house and hardwired my house. Something I have never regretted especially since I run my computer business from my home. I always have a solid connection and only have problems when I have to reset my router & dsl modem. Again there is not a problem, just turn off to reset for 20 seconds, and internet is 99.95 % happy again for another month or two!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dougbrace Douglas Adam Brace

    With the wireless/wired debate, there are two different connections that need to have tested for speed. The first test is your external network connection. If properly configured, your wireless and wired speeds should be the same when testing your external network connection. This is because of the bottleneck that is created at the ISP level. The second test is your internal network connection. Is this where wireless versus wired speeds issues are really noticed. If you do a lot of transfering of data from 1 internal network device to another (e.g. from a media server to a laptop or desktop) should have at least 802.11N or if you plan on going wireless or at least 100MB/s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dougbrace Douglas Adam Brace

    With the wireless/wired debate, there are two different connections that need to have tested for speed. The first test is your external network connection. If properly configured, your wireless and wired speeds should be the same when testing your external network connection. This is because of the bottleneck that is created at the ISP level. The second test is your internal network connection. Is this where wireless versus wired speeds issues are really noticed. If you do a lot of transfering of data from 1 internal network device to another (e.g. from a media server to a laptop or desktop) should have at least 802.11N or if you plan on going wireless or at least 100MB/s.