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Hardwire connections are so 1990s. Or are they?
There was a time when the only way to connect your devices to the internet was to use hardwired connections with Ethernet cables. And for a few years in the early 2000s, many new homes were even built with a hardwire connection in each room.
But speedy and convenient WiFi has made all that obsolete—why use a wire when you don’t need to? While it might seem counterintuitive to use an Ethernet cable in the age of near-ubiquitous WiFi, there are actually some good reasons to wire up.
Here are four reasons why hardwire connections aren’t dead yet—and why they just might be the right option for you.
Streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu demand a fairly fast connection—especially if you’re watching on a high-resolution 4K TV. WiFi is generally up to the challenge of delivering the necessary speed. But WiFi has an Achilles heel: In contrast to the speed of a wired Ethernet connection, which is usually quite consistent, the speed of your wireless connection varies from moment to moment.
If you find that your Friday night movie pauses frequently to buffer or the image quality occasionally gets pixelated, you’d definitely benefit from a hardwire connection from your router to your TV. Hardwiring can help you stream without any interruptions.
Your WiFi connection is limited by the speed of the internet coming into your cable box or router. No matter how fast your WiFi is, you can’t access internet data faster than your router can deliver it. But because data can move more easily through cable wiring, using hardwire connections to your devices can be much faster.
How is that useful? Well, if you need to regularly share or transfer files, an Ethernet connection can make that process seamless. This is especially handy for those who work from a home office or share documents with family members.
For gamers, remote workers, or those who simply want a nearly guaranteed connection, hardwiring can offer a peace of mind that WiFi sometimes lacks.
If you’re an avid gamer, hardwiring might be for you.
Gamers need a lot of raw speed, but they also care about something called latency—the delay between when a data request is made and when the data actually transfers. Some gamers call this “ping time,” and it can make all the difference when playing games that require lightning-quick reactions.
A high latency connection sometimes means your character will be killed before you even have a chance to register the danger, much less have time to react. WiFi can have a lot of latency, while hardwired connections have much lower ping times. Check your latency by using a service like Speedtest. If your latency is over 150ms, TechAdvisor notes, you’ll want to hardwire your connection to avoid lag.
These days, security means more than just locking your door. You probably already know the basics of maintaining good computer security, such as always using strong passwords and avoiding unsecured free WiFi hotspots. But don’t forget that a truly motivated hacker could eavesdrop on your home WiFi network. Is it likely to happen? Probably not. But it does happen, and the best way to prevent intrusions is by using hardwire connections to your devices. If you want the best security at home, consider connecting your computers to the router with Ethernet rather than WiFi.
Hardwire connections might seem like a thing of the past, but they’re still more common than you might think. For gamers, remote workers, or those who simply want a nearly guaranteed connection, hardwiring can offer a peace of mind that WiFi sometimes lacks. Sure, there’s a time and place for cord cutting. But if you’re looking for top speeds and reduced latency, consider hardwiring your connections.