Currently you have two options when connecting your PC or Mac to the internet, you can do it wirelessly or use an ethernet cable. While it’s far more convenient to connect via Wi-Fi, there are drawbacks. Sure you can take your laptop wherever you go in the house if it’s not connected directly to the router, but do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?
Speed and stability are most people’s main concerns. Consumers want to get what they want quickly, and to know that the internet is going to be there as soon as they log on and stay consistent until they log off again. Measuring your internet speed is easy and only takes a few moments. When you do a speed test you’ll find that you have an upload speed which probably differs quite a bit from your download speed. Upload speed is the amount of time it takes to send information into the internet. When you send an email or share photos to Facebook and Instagram, that’s upload.
Download speeds are the thing most people are going to be concerned about, and that’s why more bandwidth is dedicated to getting information from the internet into your computer. Download speed determines how fast your movies stream, meaning that they shouldn’t buffer or freeze while you’re watching, it determines how quickly an album will download and how soon after connecting to a website you will see the pictures.
Is Wi-Fi or a cable connection better for speed?
Essentially a cable connection is going to be faster and more reliable than accessing the internet via a Wi-Fi signal. Cable plugs you straight into a dedicated source of bandwidth, isolating you from interference and competition from other Wi-Fi internet enabled devices. The cable you buy will have an affect on the speeds you achieve, as well as the broadband plan you buy from your internet service provider. So while some top end professional cables can handle more than your ISP can currently deliver, many less expensive cables will do the job just as well in terms of delivering Superfast and Ultrafast broadband.
Which is better for quality
Again it’s cable which is going to win out in terms of the quality of signal you get. There’s no interference, you can’t accidentally wonder into a black spot or get unexpectedly disconnected without the wire actually becoming unplugged. Using the ethernet connection does mean that you don’t have the convenience of being able to walk around while staying connected, but if you use your laptop or desktop in the same place all the time then the speed and reliability you can achieve by keeping it plugged in are incomparable.
And for latency?
You guessed it! Keeping your computer connected via a cable cuts down on latency too. Latency refers to the amount of time it takes traffic to get from your computer to the internet and vice versa. When you’re watching a movie you probably won’t even notice latency as your computer can download a large chunk of data all at once and while you’re watching that your machine has a few minutes where it can catch up before downloading another five or ten minutes’ of footage. Where latency does become a problem is with online gaming. If there is high latency when you’re driving, flying or trying to make a crucial shot the time difference between pressing the button and that appearing in the game can be the difference between life and death.
And what about Ethernet for online security?
Online security is an ever present issue with surveys finding that people are STILL using such secure factors as qwerty1234, P4ssW0rd, or PassWord1 to keep their online existence secure. With an ethernet connection someone needs to have access directly to the keyboard of your computer to get into your network. So while you still need to use safe, long and complex passwords for every account you have online a cable connection to the internet does make you safe from being hacked via your Wi-Fi.
The convenience of Wi-Fi is something which inherently makes it less secure, but that’s not to say it can’t be bolstered and reinforced significantly by taking a few steps to secure the network and all devices on it. Most hackers get access by identifying what devices you’re using and trying out default passwords to see if they can get in. Changing the name of the device on the registry to its function instead of its manufacturer and changing the password will reduce the chances of hackers gaining control of it exponentially.
So while it looks like using an ethernet cable wins hands down across the board you could begin to wonder why anyone uses Wi-Fi at all. Except that you can’t plug an ethernet cable into your phone. Supplying enough cable to wire a line between your router and every Smart device would be impossible and impractical, and something as simple as taking your laptop to bed so you can keep watching the movie you started in the living room would be impossible.