The difference between wired & wireless

Written by noel shankel
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The difference between wired & wireless
Wireless networks eliminate the need for numerous wires in your home. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

When you are setting up a network in either your home or office, you may ask yourself if it should be wired or wireless. While both methods will garnish the same results, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Regardless of which way you go, be sure to protect your network at all times to prevent against online hackers.

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The Difference

The major difference between a wired network and a wireless network are the wires involved. As the name suggests, wireless networks are wire free, relying on radio waves to transmit data instead of cables. There are numerous wireless devices, including wireless video game controllers and communication tools such as Bluetooth. The main advantage of using a wireless device is the freedom it provides. For example, gamers can use a wireless controller to play a video game without needing to plug the controller into the console. Wires have a tendency to get tangled, lost or damaged over time. Wireless devices eliminate this concern.


A wireless device -- such as a laptop -- allows you to perform work from a variety of locations as long as you are within range of the wireless coverage area. Often times you will see establishments -- such as coffee houses -- advertise Wi-Fi. This means a laptop can tap into that establishment's wireless hot spot -- or coverage area -- and be used to surf the Internet, send e-mails and documents, and other such business. However, the connection speed you receive when using a wireless device will depend on how far you are from the access point delivering the service. The closer you are, the faster the connection speed will be. Wired devices have the same speed performance every time, unless the wire itself has become damaged.

The Security Issue

Security remains an issue for both wired and wireless networks. According to, wireless networks without an encryption can easily be hacked, placing your personal information in jeopardy. Encryption is the act of transferring your data into code, making it unreadable for hackers. Wireless networks should be encrypted with Wi-Fi Protected Access instead of Wired Equivalent Privacy, which is less reliable. Wired networks can be hacked as well, but the odds of this happening drop if the wired device -- such as your home computer -- has been installed with a firewall or antivirus software.

The Decision

Before deciding between a wireless or wired network within your home or office, consider the benefits and disadvantages of each. As of 2011, it is still more expensive to set up a wireless network in a home or business than a wired one. Numerous computers can be connected through a wired network using a router or hub. Weather, walls and other obstacles can slow down a wireless connection, a problem not found in wired connections.

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