These days, most computer devices are being released with Wi-Fi as the standard way of connecting to the internet. However, several are still packed with both Wi-Fi and an Ethernet port for good measure.
Having both on your computer system is very important because, at any time, you might have to rely on a wired connection, just in case your Wi-Fi adapter fails to work. The big question right now that we need to answer is, which one is better? Should we focus on having wireless internet, or must we contend with wires at all times?
Wi-Fi vs Ethernet
Well, the world is choosing to go the wireless route, and for excellent reasons. But that doesn’t mean Ethernet is dead and done. Let us discuss this topic in a more detailed manner.
Let’s look at the critical differences between Ethernet and Wi-Fi
In the past, it made a lot of sense to connect computers to the internet via an Ethernet port, but the same cannot be said today. You see, back then, if you wanted faster internet to your computer or video game console, then Wi-Fi, while speedy in its own right, was not on the same level as a wired connection.
Still, despite the faster speed, an Ethernet cable brings to the computer, many chose to go with Wi-Fi due to convenience. Folks didn’t want to be managing ethernet cables in their homes anymore, and Wi-Fi was in the perfect position to capitalize on that.
So, at the time, the choice was either convenience or speed. But today, things aren’t so clear anymore. With improved technology, it is clear that one has surpassed the other, at least for now.
Read: What is Wi-Fi 6?
Let’s talk a little about speed
When Wi-Fi was first released to the public, it came under the 802.11g standard that could deliver theoretical speeds of up to 54Mbps. In truth, most folks did not experience such speeds, but who cared? Being able to connect to the web from almost anywhere in the home was impressive.
As for the Ethernet technology, it could deliver speeds from 100Mbps to 1000Mbps and further than. However, these days the latest Wi-Fi update can provide more than what the standard Ethernet cable can bring to the table.
The newest standard, 802.11ac, can offer speeds at up to 3200Mbps. In real-world performance, you may only get at around half that number, which is not bad and still ahead of Ethernet.
However, as it stands right now, most home broadband speeds are slower than what 802.11ac has to offer. But not only that, not everyone owns the proper hardware to take advantage of this new Wi-Fi standard, so it will be some time before it takes off worldwide.
What about reliability?
OK, so in terms of reliability, it is safe to say an ethernet connection is more stable when compared to Wi-Fi. You see, because Wi-Fi is a wireless technology, it faces several environmental factors that could affect performance.
The atmosphere can cause problems, and the same goes for radio waves, other wireless devices, and even the walls in your home.
One of the best ways to solve problems with Wi-Fi is to make sure your router is not on the same channel as other routers in your area. Read the manual that comes with your router to learn how to make these changes.
Additionally, you can place your router at the optimal spot in your home or use a wireless range extender. Read: How to set up Wi-Fi Range Extender, Booster, and Repeater to learn how to get it done.
Security is fundamental
Now, when it comes down to security, an ethernet connection is far superior in this regard. Any data on the network can only be accessed by devices connected to that network. This means, if a person wants to steal information, they will need to be physically in the space.
Wi-Fi is different because persons with the right tools can access data from a remote location. This can be a significant problem if you’re using free and unencrypted Wi-Fi connections at the park, coffee shop, or even on the bus.
Those that are encrypted are typically difficult to hack if the right encryption method is in play.
Most routers come packed with different methods of security. WPA2-PSK is the most secure, while WEP is the least.
Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi: Making the best choice
If you play a lot of video games and tend to download, upload large files, or stream regularly, then an ethernet connection would make a lot of sense. However, if you only perform basic tasks on the web, then a secured Wi-Fi connection should be the better choice as it offers mobility.
So as it stands, the best one of the two primarily depends on your needs.