The way we access our information is rapidly changing. Remember dial-up internet? Since then, the web and our methods of staying connected have completely changed. The latest trends in connectivity cut all ties, both literal and figurative, with the wired web of the past. Just because something is new and popular, doesn’t mean it’s implementing best practices and is optimized for network security. So, should you wire your office up for data or transfer your network to wireless? Let’s dive into the pros and cons of wired vs. wireless connectivity in business and why wired wins.
Wireless Connection: Benefits
The obvious benefits of a wireless network is the lack of physical wires! We all know that familiar feeling of waging war with a tangled mess of wires. A wireless network is easy to use and accommodates changes in a network without cords and cables. Adding new desks and employees? A wireless network is the easiest logistical choice.
Additionally, with the total proliferation of mobile devices in our lives (the workplace included), a wireless network is easier for employees to connect their personal devices to the network. An easily accessible network is paramount when considering the happiness of an iPhone toting workforce.
Wireless Connection: Disadvantages
While keeping employees connected on their mobile devices is an important aspect of establishing an office network, this ease of use can open the entire network up for security problems. Information Technology decision makers (ITDMs) believe wireless networks to be the most vulnerable element of the IT infrastructure, according to a new survey. Nearly half (49%) of respondents ranked wireless networks as most exposed from a security standpoint, in contrast to just 29% for the core network. Of course, if the mobile devices are owned by the company, it would be easier to maintain security standards, but as soon as employees are allowed into the wireless network with their own personal devices, the entire system becomes vulnerable to hacking and viruses.
The most obvious and detrimental disadvantage to a wireless network is the fact that sensitive and private data is saturating the airwaves. Sending confidential information through a wireless network can be safe, but it can’t ever be as safe as a wired network. If your company deals with confidential and personal information, a wireless network would be a liability.
Wireless technology has improved over the years, but is still not as fast as a wired connection on a local network. This may not be an issue for things like internet traffic, but when connecting to resources on your local network such as file shares, this could be noticed from a performance perspective.
Wired Connection: Benefits
A wired network obviously incorporates physical network into the data connection. The wires enable increased security, control, reliability, and speed. Using physical connections might not seem as advances as the wireless alternative, but it is the superior choice when your data is precious and confidential. If your business values security over hip trends in tech, a wireless network is the obvious choice.
Wired connects are always going to be faster and more consistent than wireless connections. If you are connecting to a local database such as Quickbooks, an unstable wireless connection could greatly affect the performance of the software.
Keeping your network wired also insures that the network won’t get bogged down with non-essential traffic. Unauthorized users can’t jump on your network, obviously increasing security. Additionally, those iPhones and tablets might make for a happier workforce, but is that because they are being more productive, benefiting from the increased accessibility of a wireless network, or it is because they are browsing Amazon or Facebook while on the clock?
Wired Connection: Disadvantages
The only real shortcoming a wired office has is the physical wires. If the sight of a wire makes you cringe, go for the wireless alternative. The fact that those wires offer superior connection/security/control/speed is an important thing to weigh against visible wires. But, if you are a savvy business owner, those wires might start to look like little life-lines, ensuring your office remains safe and secure, better able to conduct business with that hard-wired peace of mind.
Wired vs. Wireless for Your Small Business Network
Figuring out how to set up a small business computer network can be a stressful, time-consuming and expensive experience. Fortunately, technology has improved over the years and has made the process a lot easier.
Many small and/or home-based businesses choose to create a network because it allows them to share a single internet connection while also being able to access common files, peripherals and software. Networks can be wired or wireless, with each option having its own pros and cons, as outlined in this comprehensive ComputerWeekly guide.
Wireless networks offer offices a cleaner look since the computers aren’t connected through cables. This allows users the flexibility of setting up their workspace in virtually any location in the office, it reduces the risk of people tripping and falling on the wires and visitors can also be given access to the internet. Unfortunately, wireless setups can be problematic in the sense that the connection strength may fluctuate for a variety of reasons ranging from having thick walls in a workplace to something as simple as poor weather.
Computers connected through Ethernet-based wired networks are typically less expensive to set up, are more reliable and often offer faster connection speeds.
Once you have decided between a wireless and a wired network, there are some other basics that you will need to consider:
- Up-to-date computers will probably be easier to connect since operating systems like Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows XP and Apple Mac OS X have built-in networking capabilities.
- Small wired networks (connecting two computers) may just need a single cable.
- A wired router may be necessary along with the appropriate number of Ethernet cables.
- A wireless router will need to be connected to your broadband connection along with a cable to connect your router to the main computer or server.
- The other computers in a wireless network will need to have the necessary wireless networking equipment integrated or attached in order to connect with the local area network (LAN).
Finally, it’s very important to make sure that your network is well protected. The first step is making sure that the security settings are enabled on your router or operating system. Using a wireless encryption protocol (WEP) for a wireless network as well as network logins and passwords will help limit unauthorized users from accessing the network.
Those who are very concerned about security can actually implement fingerprint recognition, and password keys, and full disk encryption as added protection. Also, it’s a good idea to check the security and privacy settings on browsers.
What Is a Wireless Network?: The Basics
What Is a Wireless Network?: Five Questions to Start With
What is a wireless network? How is it different from a wired network? And what are the business benefits of a wireless network? The following overview answers basic questions such as What is a wireless network?, so you can decide if one is right for your business.
What Is a Wireless Network?
What is a wireless network, exactly?
A wireless local-area network (LAN) uses radio waves to connect devices such as laptops to the Internet and to your business network and its applications. When you connect a laptop to a WiFi hotspot at a cafe, hotel, airport lounge, or other public place, you're connecting to that business's wireless network.
What Is a Wireless Network vs. a Wired Network?
A wired network connects devices to the Internet or other network using cables. The most common wired networks use cables connected to Ethernet ports on the network router on one end and to a computer or other device on the cable's opposite end.
What Is a Wireless Network? Catching Up with Wired Networks
In the past, some believed wired networks were faster and more secure than wireless networks. But continual enhancements to wireless networking standards and technologies have eroded those speed and security differences.
What Is a Wireless Network?: The Benefits
Small businesses can experience many benefits from a wireless network, including:
Convenience. Access your network resources from any location within your wireless network's coverage area or from any WiFi hotspot.
Mobility. You're no longer tied to your desk, as you were with a wired connection. You and your employees can go online in conference room meetings, for example.
Productivity. Wireless access to the Internet and to your company's key applications and resources helps your staff get the job done and encourages collaboration.
Easy setup. You don't have to string cables, so installation can be quick and cost-effective.
Expandable. You can easily expand wireless networks with existing equipment, while a wired network might require additional wiring.
Security. Advances in wireless networks provide robust security protections.
Cost. Because wireless networks eliminate or reduce wiring costs, they can cost less to operate than wired networks.