Setting up your internet connection boils down to choosing between wired and wireless. To decide which one to use, it’s important you know the difference between the two because internet speed could vary significantly.

Isn’t an ethernet connection outdated?

Yes, ethernet was first used in the time of the VHS, but the technology has been updated since then and continues to be a reliable alternative to wireless connections.

An ethernet connection uses an ethernet cable (or network cable) to connect your computer to the router or modem and access the internet. Ethernet cables are available in various types – some organized as “categories” based on when they were released and others are grouped on whether or not they are shielded (or wrapped with an outer layer) or not. These cables are also available in various lengths.

3 Reasons why Ethernet is best

We love Wi-Fi as much as the next guy who plays games on their phone and enjoys the portability of being connected wherever, whenever Wi-Fi is nearby. But there are 3 main reasons why people still go for wired ethernet connections:

  1. Reliability: Wireless networks are prone to suffer from various connection issues and outside interference (such as physical objects blocking signals, or other devices fighting for the same frequencies). Because wired networks transmit signals through the cables (and not via air like Wi-Fi), the ethernet connection tends to be more stable and reliable.

This is the main issue of people who are renting their homes and have no control over where the wireless access was installed. If walls or other physical obstructions are present, the Wi-Fi wouldn’t be as reliable. On the other hand, wired internet is hard to run from one apartment to the next, so the tendency is to provide 1 network for each apartment.

If you compare the number of times a Wi-Fi router has to be restarted to resume internet access with a wired internet router, Wi-Fi wins this round. Ethernet internet rarely has to be reset. The only times wired connections are interrupted is due to power going down or the wires/cables being physically damaged.

  1. Speed: Depending on the type of cable you choose and speeds offered on your plan, ethernet connections these days can provide speeds of up to 10 Gigabit per second. In comparison to modern Wi-Fi plans, wireless internet speeds are available up to 866.7 Mbps.

Do note that the plan you have will always be the speed you’re likely to get (sometimes less than the advertised speed). Even if you bought the fastest ethernet cable available, if your ethernet connection cannot accommodate it, you’re only going to enjoy the maximum speed of your internet plan.

In general, the advantage of ethernet connection over Wi-fi is that because wired connections are almost never interrupted by outside interferences, they will be able to provide consistent speeds. As such, ethernet will benefit you if you require:

  • Downloading or uploading massive files regularly
  • Backing up your devices on the cloud as you work live
  • Streaming videos or playing games online
  • Transferring files from one device to another
  1. Security: No one wants their files potentially hacked by scrupulous people, especially if you have sensitive files. The problem with wireless internet is that they aren’t very secure. Yes, there are encryption settings you can adjust to ensure your connection is safe, but the technology changes regularly so you’d have to be up-to-date with these encryption standards.

Because data and information are priceless, many businesses and institutions even pay security firms to ensure that their connections are kept safe.

Wired connections, since the data is transmitted via cable ethernet, are not as easy to hack. In fact, the hacker has to be physically present and plug their device into the router in order to get access to your network.

Special Uses of Ethernet 

For gamers, the ethernet connection is preferred mostly because of the way it can reduce ping or latency.

Latency is the lag or delay before a transfer of data begins. Gamers and IT professionals call this a “ping.” If your job or activities online require as low latency as possible, a wired ethernet connection can solve this problem.

Note that basic computing activities like social media, streaming videos, checking your email and other similar tasks wouldn’t really benefit from low latency.

Other situations that may benefit from ethernet connections include:

  • If you don’t need to access the internet, but need a faster way to transfer files between devices on your local network
  • If you mainly use a desktop computer in your office.
  • If you work in a graphics-heavy industry
  • If you play graphics-heavy games or competitive games that require the best latency, speed and reliability

While ethernet connection can be complicated to install, especially if you plan to run the cables through multiple levels or across different rooms, the reliability, speed, and security ethernet connections offer can trump what Wi-Fi provides.