Computer networks for the home and small business can be built using either wired or wireless technology. Wired Ethernet has been the traditional choice in homes, but Wi-Fiwireless technologies are gaining ground fast. Both wired and wireless can claim advantages over the other; both represent viable options for home and other local area networks (LANs).
Below we compare wired and wireless networking in five key areas:
Ethernet cables, hubs and switches are extremely reliable, mainly because manufacturers have been continually improving Ethernet technology over several decades. Loose cables likely remain the single most common and annoying source of failure in a wired network. When installing a wired LAN or moving any of the components later, be sure to carefully check the cable connections.
Broadband routers have also suffered from some reliability problems in the past. Unlike other Ethernet gear, these products are relatively new, multi-function devices. Broadband routers have matured over the past several years and their reliability has improved greatly.Wired LANs offer superior performance. Traditional Ethernet connections offer only 10 Mbpsbandwidth, but 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet technology costs little more and is readily available. Although 100 Mbps represents a theoretical maximum performance never really achieved in practice, Fast Ethernet should be sufficient for home file sharing, gaming, and high-speed Internet access for many years into the future.
Wired LANs utilizing hubs can suffer performance slowdown if computers heavily utilize the network simultaneously. Use Ethernet switches instead of hubs to avoid this problem; a switch costs little more than a hub.For any wired LAN connected to the Internet, firewalls are the primary security consideration. Wired Ethernet hubs and switches do not support firewalls. However, firewall software products like ZoneAlarm can be installed on the computers themselves. Broadband routers offer equivalent firewall capability built into the device, configurable through its own software.
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