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Ethernet vs Home WiFi

WiFi router

Like many things in life, choosing the avenue for your internet transmission often comes down to convenience vs. performance.

In this case, that means choosing between WiFi and Ethernet cabling.

WiFi is an absolute lifesaver when you’re on the go: it helps you conserve data and doesn’t require you to cart around an Ethernet cord. But when you’re at home it’s much easier to put a premium on performance, making the WiFi vs. Ethernet cord debate much more relevant.

With the National Broadband Network (NBN) steadily making its way around Australia, it’s time to find out just which access tactic is best for you.

The restrictions of WiFi

The same problems that have always dogged WiFi still apply. These include heavy usage in your immediate area slowing you down, as well as things like walls and various electronic waves disrupting your connection. The location of your residence and the location of the router within your residence can also deplete signal strength.

cord

So, what’s best?

The short answer is that there is a time and place for WiFi and Ethernet usage respectively. There are different situations in which one method of connectivity might be more applicable than the other. Here are some examples of scenarios where one would be better than the other:

  • Casual surfing

    For simple everyday browsing, you shouldn’t need to be bound to your router by an Ethernet cable. Sure, you might get a bit of lag here and there, but for the most part casual surfing doesn’t produce enough of a strain to warrant plugging in.
  • Streaming video
    Aside from running out of snacks, the quickest way to ruin a lazy weekend binging on Netflix is with a shoddy internet connection. In terms of latency (the route information takes to travel from a server to your device), the difference between WiFi and Ethernet is negligible for streaming. However, if you’re worried about the possibility of your WiFi dropping out, it’s probably better to plug in.streaming video
  • Gaming
    Latency plays a bigger role for gamers that rely on reflexes and precise timing. Lag and disconnection can be the difference between landing a high score with your guild and causing them to fail a quest. The best idea in this case is to rely on your trusty Ethernet cord.
    gamer
  • Security
    One place there’s a huge difference between WiFi and Ethernet is security. With WiFi, your information more or less floats through the air. Hackers and scammers are continually producing shady tools for stealing your details. WiFi connections that require passwords are safer than those that don’t, but using your computer or smart device in public spaces like cafes and shopping centres leaves you more open to attack.
    security

The verdict

There’s no completely right or wrong answer when it comes to WiFi vs. Ethernet. It’s wise to use Ethernet when at home if you’re really concerned with data speed and latency problems. If you’re trying to watch streaming video, play games or download or upload massive files, you’re better off plugging in. Otherwise, enjoy the freedom of WiFi.

Regardless of what you prefer, the NBN will soon be here to revolutionise your online experience. Check out the NBN FAQ page to get all the information you need.

nbn

Which do you prefer? WiFi or Ethernet? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo credit: Ross Heale-Whittle

7 comments

  1. Tayla Flint says:

    I would always recommend Ethernet if at all possible. The way people are using the internet at home these days you might have 5 devices using Wifi plus the TV thru ethernet so having as many options and configurations as possible is only going to be more important in the future.

  2. Ross says:

    There is a third option, also wifi, but 4g cellular mobile: I have just adopted a ‘mobiihotspot’ & I couldn’t be more thrilled. Secured by password & same spread in house as ‘BOB’ it is 5 – 10 times faster than ADSL 2+ and more stable! Volume may be an issue for some, but I can now dispense with landline & ADSL plan & am $ in front!

  3. Tracy says:

    In my house we use both. Ethernet cable to desktop all other devices WiFi.

  4. Doreen says:

    When your phone line connection point is in a different room to the computer, Ethernet just isn’t going to happen is it? Interesting concept, Ross, using your mobile device’s Internet data but this is dependent on have a good 4G reception (lucky you) and, of course, sufficient data allocation on your mobile plan.

  5. Rob says:

    @Doeen,
    It’s not difficult to have Ethernet points installed around the house.

    We use Ethernet for desktop and home theater PC’s, wireless only for portable devices.

  6. HI IM DEAF I TRY TO RESET UP MY WIFI MODERM AND IT DOESN’T WORK IT SAID ‘CANT CONNECT TO THE IINET’ I WAIT 30 MINS N IT DOESN’T WORK EITHER HOW I NEED HELP BECAUSE I LIKE TO WATCH MOVIES OR POKIES

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Mrs Street!

      We can help. We believe that we have been able to locate your account so we’ve asked staff to e-mail you to assist.

      – Leo

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