Pick the right
LAN definition for yourself
Typical home network setups
computer networks fit the definition of a LAN (local area network).
They cover a small area and are generally simple in design.
They come in 3 basic forms:
- Wired network
- Wireless network
A wired network
is one in which all the components are connected with network cable. If
different devices are spread out, network cable will have to be run
from the router to the device. PC Magazine has an article about how to go about
running network cable in the neatest and most convenient
In a wireless network everything is connected
any wires by radio waves. The only exception is the wire from your ISP
to your broadband modem and from there to your router.
A mixed network, as the name implies, is one in
which some parts are connected with wires and other parts are connected
Factors for choosing how to set up your
The following items will help you make your choice:
- ease of installation
- In terms of where you put the computers and network
wireless is easier. You can place devices anywhere you want as long as
the radio signals can reach it. You can also move the item around to
any place that is in range. Wired setup is more complicated because you
have to run wires to whatever you want to connect. If the pieces of
your network are on different floors, getting the wiring place can be a
However, setting up the router for a wired
connection is simpler
than setting up a wireless router. You have to do a number of items in
order to secure a wireless router and prevent people from stealing your
bandwidth (part of your connection to the internet). Software set up on
the computers and devices can also be more complicated
precautions are necessary
on any type of network. However, there are extra security issues with a
wireless network. A wired network's transmissions are carried on the
wires in your house and unless someone has tapped the lines, they can't
intercept your signals. Wireless networks broadcast their signals and
these signals can be picked up by people outside your home. You need
network data encryption to scramble and encode the data so that if
someone picks it up they can't do anything with it.
In most cases,
following basic security precautions is enough to prevent others from
using your connection, getting on your system or getting access to your
data. However, if you are especially concerned, the most secure
connection is a wired one.
- network speed
- Speed within your network won't usually be affected much by choosing
between wired or wireless. Unless you are constantly copying huge files
from one computer to another, current wireless speeds of 54 mbps
(megabits per second) is more than enough.
Internet download speed
will also not be affected since the highest download speeds are around
3mbps. A really fast download connection would be 10 mbps. The slowest
wireless network speed is 11 mbps which is faster than the generally
available fastest internet.
However, speeds change all the time.
In general, wired is much faster than wireless. Current wired systems
run at 100 mbps while the fastest wireless is 54 mbps. For most of the
world, the wireless speed is more than enough. In the future, speeds
will certainly increase but wireless technologies will also improve. If
you are a real speed freak then wired is for you and you should start
wiring for gigabit speeds right now.
- Wireless technology is more sophisticated than wired and so it needs
fancier hardware. This causes it to be more expensive. However, you
have to add in the cost for network cable and setting up the cabling
for a wired network. The price difference between the 2 systems is
generally not large.
you can put the wireless parts anywhere and you don't need any wires to
connect them, you can set up any way you like and you also don't have
the problem of hiding unsightly wiring. Wireless wins in this category.
- Unless you have network wire all over your property, you don't have
many choices in moving wired items.
Wireless devices can be moved anywhere the
wireless signal will reach them.
added benefit of wireless laptops is that they can be used anywhere
there is an available WiFi network. WiFi basically means a wireless
network which follows certain standards. The vast majority of home
networks follow these standards.
Free WiFi is available today
at many public places such as airports, public libraries and coffee
shops. Since modern laptops are nearly always outfitted with wireless
adapters, all you have to do is take your laptop to one of these places
and with a few simple steps you can connect to the internet.
bottom line is that, for most home users, a wireless network is the way
to an easy home network. If you really need extra speed or are
concerned about security, you can wire part or all of your network.
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