Wired and wireless connections

Connections between computers on a network can be wired or wireless.

Wired connection

Computers can be connected through Ethernet cables which connect to the Ethernet port. Connecting hardware such as a router has Ethernet ports.

Wireless connection

Computers can make a wireless connection if they have a wireless NIC. A wireless router provides a connection with the physical network. A computer device needs to be within range of the router to get access. A wireless connection uses radio signals to send data across networks. The wireless adapter converts the data into a radio signal and the wireless receiver decodes it so that the computer can understand it.

Wireless transmissions can be intercepted by anyone within range of the router. Access can also be restricted to specific MAC addresses, and transmissions are usually encrypted using a key that works with WPA (wi-fi protected access).

Advantages and disadvantages of wireless networks

Advantages

  • cheap set-up costs
  • not tied down to a specific location
  • can connect multiple devices without the need for extra hardware
  • less disruption to the building due to no wires being installed

Disadvantages

  • interference can occur
  • the connection is not as stable as wired networks and can 'drop off'
  • it will lose quality through walls or obstructions
  • more open to hacking
  • slower than wired networks