Sometimes, the problem isn’t with your ISP. If you need a faster speed, one way to improve your internet is to switch from wireless to ethernet connection. If you’ve been using wi-fi for the past few years, the change in speed could be significant enough for you to make the move permanent. This post should help you figure out if using ethernet is worth the change.
Ethernet versus WiFi Speeds
The easiest way to explain the difference between ethernet and WiFi is to compare them with your landline (for ethernet) because the calls/data are transmitted via cables and cell phone (for the Wi-fi) because the calls/data are transmitted wirelessly.
Data passed through WiFi has the potential to get lost or blocked on its way to the receiver, or slowed down by barriers like cabinets or other electronics that could affect the signal. Heck, even your neighbor’s wi-fi could disrupt your own wi-fi connection. On the other hand, data that passes through an ethernet connection will only get disrupted if the cable breaks or if there is a power outage.
In addition, the fastest speed Wi-fi can reach is about 6.9Gbps, while ethernet could go higher than 10 Gbps speeds.
How Much Faster is Ethernet?
Because of how wi-fi and ethernet are designed, it makes sense to conclude that ethernet is almost always faster than any wi-fi connection.
Yes, wi-fi has gotten A LOT faster in recent years, but it still can’t compare to the speed wired ethernet connection can theoretically provide. The speed varies because the type of cable used in ethernet connections also varies. For example, wired internet that runs through a cat6 cable could go for up to 10 Gb/s, while a Cat5e can only go for up to 1 Gb/s.
The constant factor here is that when you compare wi-fi with ethernet, regardless of the type of cable used, the speed of wired connections is stable and consistent. With ethernet, there wouldn’t be any problems with dropped signals and higher latency.
Another factor to consider when weighing connection speeds is the activities you do online and offline. Transferring files from one computer to the next via wi-fi could go slow if you’re also streaming a movie in the background or doing other bandwidth-heavy activities alongside the transfer. However, if you transfer the same files from one computer to the next via ethernet cables, then the process would be super-fast because no internet connection was needed to do the transfer.
To Use Ethernet or Not to Use Ethernet
Wi-fi is exceptionally useful in this on-the-go age. We love it for its convenience, speed and portability, but it isn’t for everyone and it isn’t for every scenario. So when should you choose ethernet over wi-fi? Is it ideal to use them both?
Use Wi-Fi if:
- If you use mobile devices… wi-fi is essential for any portable device, from your phone to your laptop and everything in between. So if you use your mobile gadgets regularly and these devices require wi-fi to connect to the internet, you don’t have a choice but to continue using wi-fi. It lets you move around with your device whichever part of the house you want to go (and still be connected).
- If your landlord won’t let you install cables… This is a pretty common scenario. Unfortunately, if you have no control of what devices you wish to install in a rented house, you might not be able to get an ethernet connection into your house (even if you wanted to).
Use Ethernet if:
- If you have the option to keep your computer in one place and permanently run a cable to the location of your computer, then ethernet is the right choice for you. This is particularly true if you require secure, stable and high-quality connection for your work, streaming, or gaming.
- If you need a secure connection because you’re running a company from home, ethernet is known to provide a higher level of security than wi-fi.
Many people joke about neighbors guessing their wi-fi passwords, but you’d be surprised at how easy it actually is to hack a wi-fi connection. If security if your priority, an ethernet connection will give you peace of mind because anyone who wishes to connect to your network would have to physically plug in a cable into your router to get access.
You can always get the best of both worlds – by using both wi-fi and ethernet. You don’t really need to choose just one. With the right router (and sometimes modem or extenders), you can achieve the best connections suitable for your situation. For example, take advantage of the convenience of wi-fi when using your mobile gadgets, but use ethernet to connect your computer online so you’d have lower latency, better speed and more secured connection every time.