IT | Security

Wired vs. Wireless for Your Small Business Network

By: Absolute Team | 9/14/2009

Figuring out how to set up a small business computer network can be a stressful, time-consuming and expensive experience.  Fortunately, technology has improved over the years and has made the process a lot easier.

Many small and/or home-based businesses choose to create a network because it allows them to share a single internet connection while also being able to access common files, peripherals and software. Networks can be wired or wireless, with each option having its own pros and cons, as outlined in this comprehensive ComputerWeekly guide.

Wireless networks offer offices a cleaner look since the computers aren't connected through cables.  This allows users the flexibility of setting up their workspace in virtually any location in the office, it reduces the risk of people tripping and falling on the wires and visitors can also be given access to the internet. Unfortunately, wireless setups can be problematic in the sense that the connection strength may fluctuate for a variety of reasons ranging from having thick walls in a workplace to something as simple as poor weather.

Computers connected through Ethernet-based wired networks are typically less expensive to set up, are more reliable and often offer faster connection speeds.

Once you have decided between a wireless and a wired network, there are some other basics that you will need to consider:

  • Up-to-date computers will probably be easier to connect since operating systems like Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows XP and Apple Mac OS X have built-in networking capabilities.
  • Small wired networks (connecting two computers) may just need a single cable.
  • A wired router may be necessary along with the appropriate number of Ethernet cables.
  • A wireless router will need to be connected to your broadband connection along with a cable to connect your router to the main computer or server.
  • The other computers in a wireless network will need to have the necessary wireless networking equipment integrated or attached in order to connect with the local area network (LAN).

Finally, it’s very important to make sure that your network is well protected.  The first step is making sure that the security settings are enabled on your router or operating system. Using a wireless encryption protocol (WEP) for a wireless network as well as network logins and passwords will help limit unauthorized users from accessing the network.

Those who are very concerned about security can actually implement fingerprint recognition, and password keys, and full disk encryption as added protection.  Also, it’s a good idea to check the security and privacy settings on browsers.