What's the Difference Between a Wired Network and a Wireless One?

Posted on: 24 July 2018

In homes and offices across the country, local area networks are installed in order to enable data communications to occur between devices. This might be for a number of computer terminals that are all connected to a central server which houses a database, for example. In a domestic situation, it could be that a network is created so that multiple devices can all communicate with a home's hub, or internet router. Whatever the reason for setting up a local area network, there are two main types, wired LANs and their wireless equivalents, or WLANs. Before setting up a new network or reconfiguring your existing one, it is advisable to have a good idea of the major differences between them.

Physical Connectivity

With a wired LAN, you get a physical connection between a device and the rest of the network. Typically, this is achieved with data cabling that is run throughout the building. This means that devices are plugged into a jack outlet via their Ethernet ports. Nearly all modern devices and computers offer an Ethernet port. An RJ-45 patch cable is used to plug the device into the LAN. So all the devices can talk to one another, a switch is connected at the other end of the data cable network, which transmits and receives all of the data. In a WLAN situation, no physical connection is made, and a Wi-Fi router communicates with all of the devices connected to it. Essentially, a Wi-Fi router acts in the role of the patch cable, the data cable and the switch in a single device.

Faster Speeds

With Wi-Fi offering such a convenient approach to generating a network, you might ask why you'd ever pay a commercial electrician to create a cabled Ethernet network instead. One of the key reasons is the speed that Ethernet offers over WLANs. Where lots of data is passing back and forth over a network, for example when you use a video conferencing device, Wi-Fi is simply not quick enough to maintain a high-quality signal all the time. If you email and share large files around the office or at home, then a wired connection is preferable.

Greater Reliability

When data is sent around any sort of network, there are losses and clashes to deal with. Most networks are resilient enough to cope with these. They simply re-send data which didn't arrive at the right place. However, as clashes build up, more and more of this re-sending is required, which slows the entire network down. With a wired network, you see many fewer clashes and consequential errors than you do with wireless ones.


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Whether you run a business based on IT or just use a laptop for your personal use, it's important to understand cyber security and how it relates to you. Hi, my name is Mary. A few years ago, my computer was hacked, and the hacker used a ransom virus that required me to give them cash to get access to my information. I didn't want to play with criminals so I worked with a cyber security expert to remove the virus, without paying a ransom. This blog is about that type of security as well as other contemporary tech issues. I hope you like these posts.

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