WiFi vs Ethernet the Pros and Cons
By Simon Williams - 9th Jun 2020

Connectivity, it’s speed and quality, is a topic that many love to weigh in on. The debate of WiFi vs Ethernet has never been more relevant as the world navigates remote working, but not many realise the true pros and cons of each option. If you’re frustrated with your existing circumstances or simply want to get a better understanding of what you are paying for and what else is out there, we have analysed both to bring you a well-rounded review.

Ethernet explained

Ethernet is connected to computer networks, and by that, we mean a physical connection that uses a cable. Using an Ethernet connection means you can connect to devices together, or create a local area network (or LAN as it’s known) with a few more devices. If you are downloading a game on your smart TV and find it’s taking too long with the available WiFi, by plugging the modem into your TV you can quicken the speed as it’s only one connected device being used.

The pros of Ethernet

LAN gatherings have been popular for many decades, due to the ease of connecting a number of devices for a very inexpensive cost and effort which is a huge advantage for small businesses, students or a small group of individuals connected through Ethernet. Another feature that draws many to an Ethernet connection is that the quality can be retained, particularly sound and picture. Now if any of this sounds a little too complicated, Ethernet is quite easy to troubleshoot so don’t expect any prior knowledge or complex solutions.

The cons of Ethernet

The biggest drawback for pushing the Ethernet agenda is that it’s not well known and thus a hard sell for work and personal uses. It also doesn’t prioritise the traffic that comes through the network, and so if you are on a meeting while also administering a mundane task - you might want to choose one single objective so as to not stall one or both of the tasks at hand. Another consideration would be that you will have to do some research into the devices that you plan to include in this network and ensure that they are modern enough that they are going to be compatible. Connecting a range of devices using the Ethernet means having cables connecting them - lots of them. It’s always a good idea to bundle them together with a cable tie to avoid ending up with a snake’s nest of cables!

WiFi explained

Unlike Ethernet, WiFi is a wireless connection, and more of a vehicle which connects a device (phone, laptop, printer, computer or gaming console) to the internet. So when people tell you that WiFi is another term for the internet, it’s not really a true statement. As you connect to the WiFi, you are connecting to a local network that allows you to do things like watch videos and do online banking. Perhaps more complicated still, WiFi can allow users to print remotely and even look at photos from an unconnected camera that is connected to the local network.

The pros of WiFi

WiFi certainly radicalised what it means to be connected, allowing all users to connect with one another outside of the home or within the home but not having to plug anything in or dial-up. This modern convenience has seen productivity to be exponentially different - with remote working (from an airport, cafe or anywhere with WiFi) becoming more of a norm than the 9-5, especially in recent months. Another advantage of WiFi is the low cost, which is only a small hike from connected services with far more capabilities, so the value stands up. Mobile printing has seen huge uptake over the last decade, with physical or remote offices enjoying the ease of mobile printing through a WiFi connection.

The cons of WiFi

You can’t say all WiFi is fast or slow - it really depends and it’s this variability which some users lose their patience with. There are a number of reasons that will impact the speed and patchiness off a WiFi connection, many of which have the providers themselves scratching their head. The range is another annoyance for large offices all on the same WiFi, as there is a recommended 10metres for physical devices that are connected to the network and this can’t always be accommodated.

Security is another consideration when considering the cons of WiFi, but it can be combated if you take the time to use some encrypted technologies to keep your connection safe and private. In a professional setting, it is not uncommon for a business to change their WiFi password weekly and not give the password to any workers but rather connect their computers and necessary devices manually. If you work for a government department or a financial institution, WiFi security is an area you will want to be across.

We’ve covered a lot here today, but hopefully, you can see what the fundamental differences are of these services, and can start to think about what will work for you and under what circumstances. Cost, convenience and the size of your operation will ultimately determine which option to choose. If you would like to discuss these connection capabilities further under the scope of your printing needs, contact our CartridgesDirect team today to learn more.

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