Before you install a home network, you first need to choose a transmission medium. You can choose between setting up a wired (Ethernet, phone-line based, power-line based) or wireless network.
Wired networks usually cost less than wireless, may perform faster and more reliably, and make good sense for desktop networking. Wireless networks provide more mobility to the user, and they make especially good sense for laptop networking. Choosing between wired and wireless options can be difficult, but taking the time to do your research and make an informed decision can save money and increase overall satisfaction with your home network.
If you choose to create a wired network, there are a number of options available, including: phone-line, power-line, USB, Ethernet. We recommend using an Ethernet network, more specifically either a Fast Ethernet or Giga-bit Ethernet network.
Advantages of a Wired Network
- Speed - The standard home Ethernet networking equipment is currently capable of operating twice as fast as the latest wireless developments.
- Security - Having a wired network ensures that there is only one location, your gateway, that allows access to your network. This means that other computers in the neighborhood will not be able to access your Internet network. With wireless, people can connect to your network as long as they are in range of your access point, which could result in personal information being breached.
Disadvantages of a Wired Network
- Difficult Installation - Installing a wired network will require you to run cables throughout your house. This means you may need to drill holes, cut and crimp chords, or live with cables running through your living space.
- More Planning - Wired networks need more careful planning than wireless networks. It is not as easy to rearrange the network components, and it can take more work to expand your network.
Wireless networks are the fastest growing category of networks; they have proven to be reliable, easy to install, and can satisfy most people’s needs with regards to bandwidth.
Advantages of a Wireless Network
- Simple Installation - Wireless networks are easier to install because there are no cables to run, which is particularly useful if systems are located in rooms far apart. If you rearrange the placement of your network computers, you will not have to worry about running new cables to these locations.
- Scalability - Additional equipment can easily be added to a wireless network; simply plug in the new device, and configure it to conform to your security and IP scheme.
- Laptop Mobility - If you are using a laptop, a wireless network gives you greater mobility, allowing you to move anywhere within distance of the signal.
- Flexibility - A wireless network allows you to extend your network to areas where cabling is impractical. For example, it could allow you to share a network with your trusted neighbors.
Disadvantages of a Wireless Network
- Signal Barriers - Barriers in your home can prevent the wireless signals from reaching desired locations. If there are signal obstacles between your workstation and your access point, you may need extra access points and/or repeaters.
- Security - If your wireless connection is not properly configured and secured, anyone crossing within range of your network can access it. A wireless network without proper security would be similar to a wired network user running a port out to the sidewalk so that any person who passes by could connect.
- Speed - Currently, most wireless home networks operate using an 802.11g configuration that has maximum speeds of approximately 54 Mbps. These speeds, however, are shared among all wireless users and could diminish greatly depending on the interference in the area.