The wired versus wireless debate has gone on for some time. As wireless technology and security have improved, wireless technology has gained more marks in the "pros" column. Still, there are times when only wired will do. In other words, the benefits of wireless -- along with its drawbacks -- often depend on the computer user's situation.
A wireless network does not use cables or cords and is the easiest, and often cheapest, way to connect computers in your home. Instead of cables, radio waves are used to transmit data. This means if you live in an apartment, for example, in which the landlord frowns upon drilling holes through walls, wireless might be your best bet. Because there are no wires to connect, this type of connection also is very adaptable. You can carry a laptop around your house or apartment without losing your connection -- unless those walls in your apartment are super thick.
One disadvantage of having a wireless network is that it transmits data more slowly than an Ethernet connection. The technology has improved, but other devices can interfere with your Internet signal [source: I Can Internet]. And hey, who among us has no technology devices sitting around the house, especially close to our desks and computers? Another disadvantage is that it is not as well protected, so you must take extra security precautions to make sure your network is safe. Among these are ensuring you have a strong WiFi password and naming your network with a unique service set identifier, or SSID, instead of using the default name. You also should enable router encryption [source: Officing Today].
A way around the slow speed is to connect a wireless router to the serves that comes into your home (whether that's cable, DSL or some other service) and to use your laptop's wireless connection when you want to move about the house, but hook it up via an Ethernet cable when you need fast speed and don't mind sitting near the router. The cables come in lots of different lengths -- but you might not be willing to string a tripping hazard across your living room.
Of course, having wireless capabilities in a laptop or other portable device -- well, that's priceless. You can use your wireless when you travel or even at your local coffee shop. Just be sure you have an excellent virus protection program if you use a Windows operating system, along with the proper firewall setting. And be selective about the type of information you send and receive when on public networks. That goes for home wireless network users, too. A recent survey showed that 97 percent of all WiFi users believe their devices and networks are secure, even though they can't really describe why or how [source: Officing Today].
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