Wireless Network vs Wired Network: Advantages and Disadvantages

Updated on April 23, 2017
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A former teacher of digital media studies with a passion for video and audio, Paul lives and works as a freelance writer in Florida, USA.

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.

Questions & Answers

  • What is bluetooth?

    Bluetooth is a standard for the short-range wireless interconnection of electronic devices, such as mobile phones, laptops, and tablets.

  • What are the disadvantages of a mobile network?

    Compared to a wired network, there are a number of disadvantages. Here are some examples: mobile networks are generally less secure and are easier to hack into to; they tend to be slower, especially when a long way from the signal source, they tend to be less reliable as the signal can be blocked by walls, hills, people, vehicles, or adverse weather.

  • What is the range for using a wireless network?

    There is no single answer to this question, as there is a range of wireless technologies available. A Wi-Fi wireless access point (also known as a hotspot), for example, has a range of around 20 meters (66 feet) indoors and an even longer range outdoors, but other wireless technologies can have greater or lesser ranges.

© 2014 Paul Goodman

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    • profile image

      Mr. Ling 

      3 weeks ago

      Great website very insightful c:

    • profile image

      jim 

      5 weeks ago

      Good

    • profile image

      anderson.rwemarika@gmail.com 

      6 weeks ago

      Helpful thanks

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      Mayfieldbenjamin@gmail.com 

      7 weeks ago

      I found the whole topic very much informative. I really enjoyed it and it also enlightened me in the delivery of the topic to my students.Thank you for providing me with the latest information.

    • profile image

      Shahida 

      7 weeks ago

      compare two physicconnectional for home network

    • profile image

      Park jimin 

      8 weeks ago

      Awesome

    • profile image

      ed 

      8 weeks ago

      was very helpfull thanks

    • profile image

      Moz 

      8 weeks ago

      i like the explanations thank a lot!!

    • profile image

      Dammy 

      8 weeks ago

      The article is very interesting and straight forward

    • profile image

      woof 

      2 months ago

      very good

    • profile image

      conor 

      2 months ago

      very good!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      ben dover 

      2 months ago

      very good!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Jasmine 

      3 months ago

      Thank you, very useful for my Computing revision! :)

    • profile image

      Holly B 

      4 months ago

      wireless is so much better, I know look at the world in a different way, thanks for introducing this to me turbofuture

    • profile image

      sup my brava 

      4 months ago

      rly helped in computer science class thanks

    • profile image

      Spamit 

      4 months ago

      this information has really helped me a lot. Thanks

    • profile image

      bob 

      5 months ago

      Don't Forget about the radiation

    • profile image

      Siz 

      6 months ago

      Good work

    • profile image

      Peter Ge 

      8 months ago

      wireless is much freaking better

    • profile image

      ERICSSON ERICUS 

      8 months ago

      Great explanation

    • profile image

      Neena 

      9 months ago

      Thxx for giving us this knowledge...

    • profile image

      Ham The Turtle 2 

      10 months ago

      Can you please update this so I know how to attribute this, this is quite useful

    • profile image

      Ham The Turtle 

      10 months ago

      Short, Simple, Useful

    • profile image

      wirezo 

      13 months ago

      this is so good for school. aaaa . Just copy and paste

    • profile image

      kajal jain 

      13 months ago

      nice

    • profile image

      MANJU NAITHANI KALA 

      14 months ago

      I liked the content and found very useful for me.

      Manju Naithani Kala W/O Vijay Kumar Kala

    • profile image

      Mo 

      14 months ago

      Very easy to understand and helped a lot in homework than you very much

    • profile image

      Imam walee 

      14 months ago

      Nice to the correct the answer

    • cathysue5924 profile image

      cathysue5924 

      14 months ago from USA

      Nice article. Structured well with a lot of information. I enjoyed the read. I agree with you on all points. I have a wired and wireless network. Wired is more secure and stable. Although, I enjoy the freedom a wireless brings to the plate.

    • profile image

      Adas 

      14 months ago

      very clear and easy t understand

      thank you very much

    • profile image

      Damini Palrecha 

      15 months ago

      So nice, points are important, markable tho easy to understand.

      I really want someone to answer all my questions so easily !!

      Thanks..!!

    • profile image

      salmon 

      16 months ago

      this is very good i found out new infromation

    • profile image

      random. 

      17 months ago

      i like it, nailed it, thnx alot.

    • profile image

      cococococo 

      17 months ago

      more info please

    • profile image

      Mr Odinga 

      19 months ago

      Yaah man internet tips very good nice :)

    • profile image

      charles chimbaza nasolo 

      19 months ago

      So easy to understand

    • profile image

      Ewerina 

      19 months ago

      Thank you

      I want more explanation

    • profile image

      gaari 

      19 months ago

      really really really really really good

      ANOTHER 1 :-)

    • profile image

      tr tradejic 

      19 months ago

      wow

      awesome

    • profile image

      bart 

      20 months ago

      Thank you

      This is good

    • profile image

      TeachIct 

      20 months ago

      *Good recource for GCSE ICT sudents

      Would Recommend this

    • profile image

      Anon 

      21 months ago

      Kys, jks good info

    • profile image

      George 

      21 months ago

      good explanation

    • profile image

      momo 

      21 months ago

      nice info thanks ,

    • profile image

      phil 

      22 months ago

      beatiful

    • profile image

      will 

      22 months ago

      helpful

    • profile image

      papz 

      22 months ago

      clear explaination

    • profile image

      Asanka 

      2 years ago

      Good explanation

    • profile image

      sam 

      2 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Marie 

      2 years ago

      who's the author of this?

    • profile image

      E.S 

      2 years ago

      very good

    • profile image

      kylstee 

      2 years ago

      wow thanks i appreciate that

      i want ANOTHER ONE :-)

    • profile image

      stee 

      2 years 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

      Jacobb9205 

      2 years ago

      Ahh very interesting to find out the advantages and disadvantages.

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