It’s 2015, and we are in the dawn of the new wireless era. No need for cables to get our devices online. Long gone by are the days of having to plug your PC or laptop into a network via Ethernet cable to internet reliably. Videogame consoles and TV’s have WiFi by default and there is a whole generation that has grown up without having to worry about being tethered to gain network access on their computer. However, it is in this era that I have decided to hardwire my home network.
Why you ask? There are a number of reasons why and a number of reasons you may also want to consider it.
Hardwired networks are much less susceptible to wireless interference. We have found that recently our wireless set up has become vary unstable and I believe it’s partly with my wireless bridge set up and partly due to the fact that there are a dozen or so other networks in our apartment complex. Most of the signals run in the 2.4Ghz band, so the plan is to wire as much as possible, and push everything else off to 5Ghz and leave only what’s necessary on the over crowded 2.4Ghz band. I am hoping this will fix our wireless woes as watching YouTube videos on wireless with the quality set to auto causes stutter, lag and sometimes load failure. The less crowded our signals are the better our reception should be and the fewer issues I expect to have.
In addition to moving out of the crowded air waves, moving to a wired network allows for much higher speeds and bandwidth. The wireless N devices I own have a max speed of 300Mbps or about 37.5 Megabytes per second. That’s plenty for browsing the web, but I plan to finish re-purposing my old PC as a home server in the near future and would love to be able to move files and stream media without any issues. Now, the max speed of 37.5Megabytes per second is good, but remember that is the theoretical maximum. Also, remember that that would be the maximum bandwidth for all devices being the hub for all connections as that’s the routers max speed as well.
Ok, so what about the wireless AC band that can run up to 867Mbps? Well yes, that over doubles it but still limits it to just 100Megabytes per second maximum and that has to be shared among all devices. In practice though, the actual speeds seen would be less and being 5Ghz does not penetrate walls as well and has a more limited range. So I would expect that transferring larger files between machines may cause some congestion especially if signal is poor or there is wireless interference.
What bandwidth/speed advantages are there of using wired? Well with routers/switches data is only switched between ports that need to communicate. This means that a file transfer between my PC and the server shouldn’t impede any other devices talking to others on the network as the data is passed straight through over the wires(assuming the main connecting line has the bandwidth). The only time bandwidth would become an issue is if we are both accessing large files on the server and would max out the Gigabit connection that ties the machines together. Although the hard drive speed would be the first bottleneck in this set up.
One of the biggest things to consider about having a wired network is that if you are saving personal documents with financial, medical or other sensitive data you are sending the data only to the device you are saving to. Remember: routers/switches only send data to what device needs it and prevents the mass broadcast to all devices within listening distance as wireless does. Now although increased security should be the case, without a proper security set up in your network you can still find yourself vulnerable. So wired does not mean it’s inherently more secure, but that it can be as long as it’s configured properly.
We are at a time where our homes, lives and devices are ever more connected. With a wired network it allows the separation of traffic better than wireless can do. In addition, as we have more and more data and digital content, having a robust home network to allow everyone in your home to access it will only become more important. Wired network expansion can not only add wired devices, but allow easily connecting additional wireless access points without having to sacrifice wireless bandwidth that is used to allow the repeating of the signal from one access point to another.
So with all these things considered it just makes sense to move out of the wireless space as much as possible while the air is crowded in our current location. Whenever we move in the future though I would say because of these things listed above I would still have a wired home network. It’s flexibility and utility are worth the extra inconvenience of running wires throughout our space.
If you are interested in wiring your own place, stay tuned. I will be writing an article on the process of wiring our apartment in the near future. As we do not have the ability to punch holes in our walls I will be covering it from an easy to install and remove with as little (hopefully no) damage done so we can retain our deposit when moving out.
Have you added wires to your home network? Are you all wireless? How have you answered your networking issues? Let us know in the comments below!