Unmanaged switches ‑ why wired is better than wireless

Unmanaged switches - why wired is better than wireless

We have a saying at D-Link - 'if you can, use a wired connection' it’s not prophetic, but then, we are a networking company! The point is not to demean Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi is awesome, but there are a few advantages to having a wired connection that we will discuss in today's blog.

With a lot more traffic through home networks at the moment, whether you are working from home, streaming or a Gamer, a wired connection can result in increased performance for you. Quite simply, the modern home and small office is now tech rich in devices that require access to the internet or a network in order to integrate and work with you, also the devices on the network that collaborate together (music and movie entertainment system, gaming, lighting, heating, kitchen appliances, home security cameras, social media and work related applications – all links to personal devices or dedicated stations). 

Typically off the shelf home wireless routers contain about 3 or 4 Ethernet ports for wired connections, this has the potential for items to miss out, TV’s, home cinema, games consoles, PC’s, streaming boxes, to name but a few. So, what do you do when you run out of ports on your home or small business router? The easiest solution is to get an unmanaged gigabit switch. An unmanaged switch will provide you with an additional 5-8 ports (on the smallest models, some have 52!) which will provide additional gigabit connections to your router.

Why Go for Unmanaged?

Unmanaged switches are simple plug and plug devices - very easy to install in any environment. In a previous blog we covered in some detail the difference between unmanaged and managed network switches, but in a nutshell, the managed switch gives you extra features like quality of service, security and network visibility, allowing you to really geek out the finer controls. If however you have no intention of becoming a tech wizard, don’t know any geeks and just want the simplicity of the plug and play life, then an unmanaged switch is for you.

Wired vs Wireless examples

Wired devices are more common with devices that are stationary, like a powerful home desktop computer, entertainment system, gaming stations and IoT appliances.

Wireless devices communicate via radio waves – typically to handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets.

Quality of Service, Speed, Reliability and Security

Increasingly, the needs of modern homes and workspaces are for greater and more versatile internet connectivity and internal building network speeds. While the benefits of Wi-Fi are obvious, it has its limitations.

Personal choice usually always comes down to convenience, but there are those that recognise the importance and implications of keeping some key devices connected via the hard wire – mostly for security, performance and quality of service / experience. Wireless solutions are catching up with speed and security, but these configurations are a little complicated to set up for your everyday non techie joe, you may get interference from neighbouring people also using wireless frequencies - the biggest trade-off is dedicated speed and capacity.

Because wired routers and switches do have a limited number of ports with which to physically connect and network a device, wireless networking enables multiple devices to use the same internet connection remotely, as well as share files and other resources without a cable.

Although wireless connectivity and mobility represent a new trend for accessing information, there are still many that are sceptical about the security and functionality of wireless networks. Does it make sense to migrate to a wireless network or is a wired infrastructure the best way to go?

Take advantage of your full gigabit (1000 Mbps)

Small off-the-shelf or ISP provided Internet routers usually come with three or four Ethernet ports built in, and because almost everything on a home network - laptops, phones, game consoles, streaming boxes and smart-home accessories uses Wi-Fi anyway, most people don’t need a network switch., but could still benefit from one anyway!

A switch is useful if your router doesn’t have enough Ethernet ports - if you have a lot of wired devices in one place (such as an entertainment centre), if you’re trying to use wires to improve your speeds or cut down on wireless interference, if you’re installing Ethernet ports in your home’s walls because you want fast, lag-free connections in every room of your house (if you play online games, stream 4K video from a local server, or transfer large files over your network every day) - there’s still no substitute for wired Ethernet.

The most common kind of switch, unmanaged switches are devices that have no settings or special features, and it exists only to add more Ethernet ports to your network. This part seems a little out of place here?

Simply find an unmanaged Gigabit Ethernet switch with the number of ports you need from a reputable networking company like D-Link.

Wired networks are reliable because the signal is not influenced by other connections. For example, if you have wireless networks that are close to one another, one signal could interfere with another which can compromise stability. Or, if you have walls or objects nearby, this has an impact on a wireless connection where a wired network connection is unaffected by these factors.

Wireless networks are prone to a variety of connection issues, particularly if you try to access the network at the edge of its wireless range – a common problem in large households with a limited number of wireless access points for people’s devices to reach the signal.

Typically advantages wired networks include; faster upload and download speeds, as well as better security from hacking and other unauthorised usage of the network.

Security

Arguably the most important aspect that makes wired networks better: security. Let’s face it, not all wireless networks are very safe. That’s why we have to keep changing the encryption standards. Even when companies and education institutions pay exorbitant prices to secure their wireless networks up to high heaven, they can still get hacked, and the average person’s security doesn’t come anywhere close to those institutions.

Remember, we do everything online, so almost all of our personal information is just out there for the taking. In any neighbourhood a reasonably skilled hacker could easily get into 6 or more networks using only a laptop with a wireless connection. A wired network, on the other hand, is completely contained. You have to physically connect to the network to access the information.

There can also be problems with neighbours stealing bandwidth, if the network hasn’t been set up to be password protected. Information in the air is also less secure too and can be easier to hack into.

Speed

Speed is one of the key benefits of wired Ethernet, it’s most important when transferring data through a local area network (for instance, if you’re a manufacturing, biotech, medical or media or design business and regularly move detailed drawings or CAD files across a network). This is because wired connections transfer data from computers faster than Wi-Fi.

 Note, however, the speed at which data can move between devices is not the same as your internet speed. Internet bandwidth is the ultimate bottleneck that will slow down the transfer of data between your home office and the outside world.

Latency

Connection speed and quality isn’t just about raw bandwidth. Latency is also a big factor. In this case, latency is the delay in how long it takes for traffic to get from a device to its destination.

Power of Fibre to your home or business with Gigabit with Unmanaged Switches

The real power of gigabit is in multiple connected devices doing whatever they want to do online (streaming, gaming, video chatting) without ever getting in each other’s way.

One thing to remember is that you can have a mix of wired and wireless devices connected. Wired devices always take priority and, as mentioned, aren’t subject to the same limitations as they would be when connected wirelessly. If you’re a big gamer, a hardwired connection to the router will beat a wireless connection every time. If you work from home, being hardwired in the office is worth the trouble.

Think Green

The new DGS-105gl and DGS-108GL Gigabit Desktop Switches make use of D-Link’s Green Technology, providing energy savings, reduced heat, and a longer product life without sacrificing performance or functionality. Minimized use of harmful substances (RoHS compliant), and recyclable packaging makes this switch truly environmentally friendly.

These switches help conserve energy automatically, saving substantial amounts of power by cutting power usage for unused ports or ports connected to computers that are idle. 

Read more about these new switches here ---> DGS-105GL  & DGS-108GL

Paul Routledge - D-Link
By Paul Routledge, Country Manager, D‑Link
A highly experienced networking professional, Paul Routledge has led the UK&I region of D-Link for over 5 years