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Wireless Network vs Wired Network: Advantages and Disadvantages

Updated on November 22, 2016
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A former teacher of digital media studies in the UK, Paul now lives and works as a freelance writer in Florida, USA.

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Although the current trend is definitely towards wireless networks, mainly because they are often more convenient for users, wired networks can be superior when it comes to issues such as network security and faster upload/download speeds.
Although the current trend is definitely towards wireless networks, mainly because they are often more convenient for users, wired networks can be superior when it comes to issues such as network security and faster upload/download speeds. | Source

Increasingly, the needs of modern homes and many work spaces are for greater and more versatile internet coverage than just having a single PC, or group of PCs wired up to a router with ethernet cables.

Wireless networks enable multiple devices to use the same internet connection remotely, as well as share files and other resources.

They also allow mobile devices, such as laptops, tablets and ipods to move around within the network area freely and still maintain a connection to the internet and the network.

There are also disadvantages to wireless networks, however, especially when you compare them with wired networks, which generally maintain a faster internet speed and are more secure.

Below, I have listed all of the above points, plus the other main advantages and disadvantages of a wireless network vs wired network.

It doesn't matter if it's a wireless or wired network. I think network management can be introduced that is equally sensible.

— Vint Cerf

Benefits of a Wireless Network

To be happy in this world, first you need a cell phone and then you need an airplane. Then you're truly wireless.

— Ted Turner
Accessibility and ease of use are the main advantages of wireless internet.  There is no need for cables, sockets, etc. making life easier for the user, and potentially the network provider too, as set up costs can be lower.
Accessibility and ease of use are the main advantages of wireless internet. There is no need for cables, sockets, etc. making life easier for the user, and potentially the network provider too, as set up costs can be lower. | Source

Advantages of a Wireless Network over Wired

  • As I mentioned in the introduction, the main advantage of a wireless network over a wired one is that users can move around freely within the area of the network with their laptops, handheld devices etc and get an internet connection.
  • Users are also able to share files and other resources with other devices that are connected to the network without having to be cabled to a port.
  • Not having to lay lots of cables and put them through walls etc. can be a considerable advantage in terms of time and expense. It also makes it easier to add extra devices to the network, as no new cabling is needed.
  • If you are a business such as a café, having a wireless network that is accessible to customers can bring you extra business. Customers generally love wireless networks because they are convenient.
  • Wireless networks can sometimes handle a larger amount of users because they are not limited by a specific number of connection ports.
  • Instant transfer of information to social media is made much easier. For instance, taking a photograph and uploading it to Facebook can generally be done much quicker with wireless technology.

Did You Know?

The world’s first wireless computer communication network, known as ALOHAnet, was created by a university professor in Hawaii named Norman Abramson in 1971. His system used cheap ham-like radios and featured seven computers located across four islands, they communicated with a central computer without the use of phone lines.

Wireless networks allow for more freedom of movement, as well as stopping the need for cords and plug sockets when using a digital device.  If you are a business working with the public, you may also find that many people expect wireless access.
Wireless networks allow for more freedom of movement, as well as stopping the need for cords and plug sockets when using a digital device. If you are a business working with the public, you may also find that many people expect wireless access. | Source

New security loopholes are constantly popping up because of wireless networking. The cat-and-mouse game between hackers and system administrators is still in full swing.

— Kevin Mitnick
Wireless networks generally deliver slower internet speeds than wired ones.  File transfer speeds are also slower.  Connections can also be blocked by everyday obstacles, such as walls, doors, and furniture.  Connections are also usually less secure.
Wireless networks generally deliver slower internet speeds than wired ones. File transfer speeds are also slower. Connections can also be blocked by everyday obstacles, such as walls, doors, and furniture. Connections are also usually less secure. | Source

Disadvantages of a Wireless Network

  • It can require extra costs and equipment to set up, although increasingly routers have built-in wireless capability, as do devices such as laptops, handheld devices, modern DVD players, and TVs.
  • Setting up a wireless network can sometimes be difficult for people who are not experienced with computers. (Although there are issues with setting up a wired network too, off course!)
  • File-sharing transfer speeds are normally slower with wireless networks than they are with cabled. The speeds can also vary considerably according to your location in relation to the network.
  • The general speed of a wireless connection is also usually much slower than a wired one. The connection also gets worse the farther you are from the router, which can be a problem in a large building or space.
  • Wireless connections can be obstructed by everyday household items and structures such as walls, ceilings, and furniture.
  • Wireless networks are generally less secure. There can also be problems with neighbors stealing bandwidth, if the network hasn’t been set up to be password protected. Information is also less secure too and can be easier to hack into.

There is an underlying, fundamental reliance on the Internet, which continues to grow in the number of users, country penetration and both fixed and wireless broadband access.

— Vint Cerf
Most modern laptops, tablets, and mobile phones are designed so that they can connect to wireless internet sources without the need for cables and wires.  There are often security concerns associated with this, however.
Most modern laptops, tablets, and mobile phones are designed so that they can connect to wireless internet sources without the need for cables and wires. There are often security concerns associated with this, however. | Source

I read recently of the advent of a completely wireless house. Having just moved house and being drowned in billions of cords and cables, that sounds like a great thing to have.

— Julian Ovenden
If you are a business that works with the public, the expectation is increasingly that you will supply free wireless internet access.  Cafes, bars, airports, and many other public spaces provide high speed broadband for their customers.
If you are a business that works with the public, the expectation is increasingly that you will supply free wireless internet access. Cafes, bars, airports, and many other public spaces provide high speed broadband for their customers. | Source

Summary of The Advantages and Disadvantages

Activity/Category
Wireless Network
Wired Network
Freedom of movement for users
Users can access network from anywhere within range.
Users location limited by need to use cable and/or connect to a port.
Sharing Files
Easier with wireless network as you do not need to be cabled to network, though transfer speeds may be slower.
Generally less convenient as you have to be cabled in, but transfer speeds often faster.
Cables
Far less complicated, disruptive, and untidy cabling needed.
Lots of cables and ports needed which can be a headache.
Business
For businesses dealing with public, customers like and often expect wireless, so wireless can increase income.
Wired networks are not convenient for public use, but sometimes acceptable for a traditional office.
Connection speeds
Usually slower than wired.
Usually faster than wireless.
Security
Less secure than wired. Both bandwidth and information can sometimes be accessed.
More secure than wireless.
Set up
Upgrading to a wireless network can be difficult and expensive.
Can also be difficult and expensive to set up.

© 2014 Paul Goodman

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    • Jacobb9205 profile image

      Jacob Barnard 18 months ago from Gloucestershire

      Ahh very interesting to find out the advantages and disadvantages.

    • profile image

      stee 15 months ago

      oh the information provided is in its simplest form and it is easy to grab and understand what is it trying to explain.thank you so much for the useful information.

    • profile image

      kylstee 8 months ago

      wow thanks i appreciate that

      i want ANOTHER ONE :-)

    • profile image

      E.S 8 months ago

      very good

    • profile image

      Marie 8 months ago

      who's the author of this?

    • profile image

      sam 8 months ago

      is it right to connect mobile when internet is on to desktop which internet also on ?

    • profile image

      Asanka 7 months ago

      Good explanation

    • profile image

      papz 5 months ago

      clear explaination

    • profile image

      will 5 months ago

      helpful

    • profile image

      phil 5 months ago

      beatiful

    • profile image

      momo 4 months ago

      nice info thanks ,

    • profile image

      George 4 months ago

      good explanation

    • profile image

      Anon 4 months ago

      Kys, jks good info

    • profile image

      TeachIct 3 months ago

      *Good recource for GCSE ICT sudents

      Would Recommend this

    • profile image

      bart 3 months ago

      Thank you

      This is good

    • profile image

      Megan 3 months ago

      Brill 100% absoloute smashing

    • profile image

      tr tradejic 2 months ago

      wow

      awesome

    • profile image

      gaari 2 months ago

      really really really really really good

      ANOTHER 1 :-)

    • profile image

      Ewerina 2 months ago

      Thank you

      I want more explanation

    • profile image

      charles chimbaza nasolo 2 months ago

      So easy to understand

    • profile image

      Mr Odinga 2 months ago

      Yaah man internet tips very good nice :)

    • profile image

      cococococo 4 weeks ago

      more info please

    • profile image

      random. 13 days ago

      i like it, nailed it, thnx alot.

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