If the computers in your home or office are all
within 500 feet of each other, a wireless network might be for you. A wireless
network has no cables. It can connect computers on different floors of a
building or even across the street. Aside from the obvious benefit of not having
wires, wireless networks are more convenient since the setup, configuration, and
reconfiguration can often be done within minutes, without extensive planning.
Wireless networks, however, are not as fast as
wired networks. If you play computer games or want to view streaming video or
other high-speed multimedia, a wireless network might not have enough capacity.
But, if you just want to check e-mail and view web pages, a wireless network is
a good choice. To install a wireless network, you need a Wireless Access Point
and a wireless network card for each computer. You will need to buy a wireless
network card for each desktop computer, although most newer laptops come
equipped with one.
Security is not a large concern in a wired
network, since someone would have to physically connect to a wired network to
break in. In wireless networks, a car parked outside with a laptop could easily
connect to your network if you donít have proper security in place. To prevent
this from happening, encrypt your wireless network connections, or set a
password to access the network, or do both.
Do It Yourself or Call a Professional?
If you decide to use a wired network, consider
whether you will install it yourself or hire a professional. If you have a small
number of computers that are all situated very close to one another, you may be
able to buy pre-assembled network cables and connect them yourself. If you need
to wire multiple floors and lay wire through ceilings and walls, you need a
professional installation. If you go this route, it is best to begin with a
floor plan of your office or home, determine what your current needs are, and
consider how the network design can be adapted to future needs. A professional
installer should be familiar with EIA/TIA standards, local wiring and electrical
codes, and making custom cables. Network cabling professionals are often judged
by the neatness of their work, because sloppy cabling is more apt to deteriorate
over time, harder to manage, and poses more of a fire risk.
Having a wireless network or a wired network is
not mutually exclusive. Many small offices have a wired network in addition to
one or more wireless networks, depending on their needs. Wireless networks are
continuing to get faster, more secure, and less expensive. Wired networks will
continue to coexist with wireless networks, often in the same homes and offices.