Wi-Fi Versus Ethernet? Which one provides a better connection? Or is Wi-fi just as fast as ethernet? Those are the questions you have in your mind right now probably, especially if you are thinking of an upgrade or new internet plan.
Practically, the answer to your question isn’t black and white. There’s no single answer saying which connection is better than the other because Ethernet and Wi-Fi are ideal for specific use cases. This guide could help you know the one to have based on your needs.
- The Main Difference between Wifi and Ethernet
- When to Choose Wi-Fi
- When to Choose Ethernet
The Main Difference between Wifi and Ethernet
A wifi (wireless) connection is the go-to connection because users are not tethered to an exclusive, specific location. Instead, users are able to move freely while watching their favorite TV shows or movies on a tablet, stream music from their phone, and be able to snuggle up with their device in bed until they fall asleep. The problem is that wi-fi signals tend to drop and the wi-fi range could be limited.
Wired (Ethernet) connection was the standard connection for the longest time. While many people are in awe of the wireless internet, wired internet can still beat it due to consistent speed, stability, low latency, and higher security. The problem is that installation can be challenging and more expensive (with every device added to the network), setup can be cluttered, and maintenance could be less convenient.
When to Choose Wi-Fi
There are several reasons to choose Wi-Fi as your main connection:
1. The number of smart devices used
If you use your laptop for work at home and move around regularly, wireless internet is the only connection that fits your needs.
If you connect your laptop to wired internet but have a plethora of devices that require wireless internet, you’d need wi-fi to accommodate game consoles, tablets, smartphones, smart devices, and others.
2. Connectivity offered to a lot of people
If you live in a house with several people who use two or more wireless devices each, having a wi-fi connection allows up to 50 devices to access the router simultaneously.
Both wi-fi and ethernet routers can be extended to accept more devices, but you’d have to invest in an external device (such as a gigabit ethernet switch box for ethernet, or wi-fi extender for wireless connection).
Ethernet provides unmatched speed, but not all devices can be plugged into a wired connection. For example, security cameras, motion sensors and other similar devices can only connect to wi-Fi. This is also the case with the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart devices, such as smart refrigerator, smart espresso machine, and so on.
4. No space for cables or cable installation
Whether you’re just renting out your home and the landlord won’t allow running cables, or your home/office has no space for complicated cable setup, wireless (wi-fi) may be the only solution for you. After all, there’s little to zero clutter when setting up wi-fi.
When to Choose Ethernet
There are 3 reasons to choose wired internet:
1. You need consistency
Not everyone knows this, but the main factor that would define your internet’s speed is the plan you choose. What makes ethernet a better choice than wi-fi is that ethernet offers a more consistent connection. Unlike wi-fi whose signals pass through the air and can be blocked by physical obstructions, ethernet connection doesn’t drop or lag the way wi-fi is bound to. Wired signals do not fluctuate.
2. You stream media and play games online
Latency (or “ping”) measures the time data takes to leave your device and reach its destination, then back to your device. In gaming or streaming media, low latency is important because you’d want the data to transmit the least amount of time possible.
Wireless internet tends to have greater latency because of the number of wireless devices connected to the network, the location of your portable devices, and the possible interference from neighboring networks or nearby devices.
3. You download/upload
Just as you would want data from your games and streaming platforms to arrive and transfer to/from your device fast, uploading and downloading files should also be as quick as possible.This is more true if you need the files transferred for work.
Ethernet connections are also more secured, so if you upload, download or keep important files on your device, you can be sure that no hacker would be able to access them. The hacker would have to physically plug an ethernet cable into the router to intercept your financial information, emails, files, or other data.
Generally, wi-fi settings and maintenance can be more complicated than wired internet. Plus, you’d have to keep on changing the password regularly forever. Wired internet is simple – it’s pretty plug-and-play – just connect the cables tightly into the modem/router and the other end into your computer or device.