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Are you using WiFi or Ethernet right now?

nocnica profile image Nočnica Fee github logo Updated on ・1 min read

I live in a one-room cottage that I built myself. I never intended to work out of here, but I’ve adapted slowly but surely. One thing I haven’t done is run an Ethernet cable from my router to my desk. It’s only about 12 feet (it’s a one room cottage after all) and I have an Ethernet adapter, but the cable routing will be a hassle and my WiFi has been fast enough.

I’m curious though if the rest of you, working from home, have made the same compromise. Who’s run cable and who’s settling for wireless.

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Wireless, except:

  • It's 802.11ax (WiFi 6 as the WiFi Alliance is calling it).
  • I have a really nice (400 USD nice) AP with 8 transceivers.
  • I have very little interference since I'm the only person in my neighborhood who goes to the trouble of manually selecting WiFi channels.
  • I've done a lot of work performance-tuning the router.

In other words, I've gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that wireless works very well in my home. I got kind of lucky too because I upgraded most of my hardware to 802.11ax and got the nice AP literally just before the shelter-in-place orders went out where I live. I'm also a bit of an odd case though because until I get my internet service upgraded from the grandfathered-in legacy plan I'm on right now, WiFi is never going to be my issue with network performance (I'm on a 20Mb/s down 2Mb/s up DOCSIS link). Most of the reason I've gone to so much trouble for good WiFi is local transfers (I need to test across a lot of platforms regularly, and I'm running 30+ VM's on my home server for that purpose that I need to transfer data between regularly).

 

Any good advice on how to find the proper channels? I have a router/adsl-modem with crappy wifi that we use upstairs (somehow the copper gets in here) and a (theoretically good quality) AP connected to the same router via ethernet downstairs. I don't think they interfere, but sometimes my connection drops when I'm downstairs.

Other tuning tips are welcome as well.

 

You can use an App called WiFi Analyzer (from windows store on your laptop) or one of many on Android Store (i suppose you'll find some on mac store too but i'm not into iOS since 4 years ago).
Then you'll see which channels are used by your neighbors so are more saturated, same on specific band too.
I recommend you to set 2,4GHz on channel 6 or 7 if are not saturated, and 5GHz on the highest possible.
If you use your AP as wifi extender (bridge mode) it must work all ok, if you use it as AP "as is" with different SSID, it can cause interference if both are on the same channel/band or near one of another.
If you need more wall-penetration signal, set the wifi on the lowest possible channel (note some devices may not work on channel 1 to 3, if 3,4GHz or below 36 if 5GHz, depending on your country law that applies to wireless bands) and set the AP as Bridge mode (wifi extender). It should work fine.
Another option (preferred, more powerful) is to use a PLC on the main router to send signal to another router upstairs, then you can set the main one on the lowest channel (that works with all your devices and its not saturated) and upstairs one on the highest possible (with same criteria).
Hope it helps you.

@joelbonetr - when I switch to WiFi Analyzer's suggested channels, the next time I check, it suggests I go back to the channel I was using before the switch. Have you ever had that experience?

hahaha yes, of course, because when you switch to a channel, you will have a strong signal source near you on this channel (A.K.A. your router). The best way to check it out is shutting down your router, then analyzing and finally setting the correct channel / band. =D

 

My desktop is wired to the network but everything else I have is wireless. With a good wireless network, it isn't noticeable for most applications.

 

Absolutely running cable whenever possible (sending this from a gig-e connected iMac). I'm in an extremely densely populated area, hence wi-fi is extremely congested. Plus, my building is old and signal doesn't travel well through walls, despite having multiple APs.

 

I just moved and found that my apartment is wired, but, sadly, the Ethernet port is on the opposite direction of where I'm going to install my desktop. So, I'll need to wire up the room and, during these times, not a project I would do. So, I'll remain using Wi-Fi. What I did is get a better Router (Asus AC1900) and will be extending the range of my coverage.

 

I dislike wireless for anything I can run a cable for, just because it eliminates any questions about WiFi signal levels, interference, bandwidth, sharing, etc. If it's really hard to run a cable, and you get the kinds of results you expect from WiFi, and it 'feels' OK to you, then WiFi is fine.

My current setup is: 30 megabit FTTH router to RAD Airmux radio link (5 miles to another island) to an Airport Express router to an Adtran Netvanta router to my LAN. Works well except for a few seconds every 5 days when I get a new DHCP address from the ISP, or when one of the three of us needs to download a huge file. Your Milage Will Vary.

 

Broadband hub in the dining room.

WiFi extender plugged into mains in dining room, connected to hub.

Main server in upstairs bedroom, ethernet-connected to WiFi extender plugged into mains, in bedroom.

hub <-> mains 'ethernet' <-> server

Using laptop, remoted into main server, at dining room table, via WiFi into the hub.

Laptop <-> WiFi <-> Hub <-> ethernet extender <-> server

Most of my 'proper' work done remotely on that server.

Except for the work stuff that requires a VPN. Which both laptop and server are on - both of which can use my work desktop, sitting lonely at my desk, doing more stuff...

Server <-> vpn <-> ethernet <->work

Laptop <-> vpn <-> wifi <-> work

Then there's my own personal server an ocean away....

 

Running wifi and it's nearly at the same speed as incoming cable. It's was terrible at first (50mbps dload), then I bought a new wifi router (Archer c4000). It was still not very good (100mbps), I then ran some wire to bring the wifi router to the center of house (from a corner). I get 300mbs consistently. Paid only $120 for the router!

 

If ethernet cable is easy, I hook the device up to ethernet -- e.g. a Raspberry Pi sitting in a closet where there was already an ethernet port. Everything else, including my work laptop and my TV from which I stream Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, all go over wifi. Luckily they are close to the wifi AP so they can hop on 5 GHz channels. Not sure if it would make much of a difference if they were 2.4 GHz channels.

If you want to use wifi all the time and you're having problems, I think the best course of action is to get a "prosumer" wifi access point like something from Ubiquiti.

 

The desktops and server are all on gigabit Ethernet. I'm planning a 10G upgrade sometime soon. File transfers, backups, etc, run at about 980 Mbps, but they could go a lot faster.

Most computers are in the office with the cable modem so short cables but the desktop in the bedroom has a 70ft cable run along the ceiling edges with staples.

 

The first thing I did after (rather during) moving to our current home, was drilling some holes through the walls.

We relied on WiFi a lot in our last flat, but streaming was not possible, when we were using the Microwave.

So this time it is cable to all the essentials:

  • TV
  • Working Desk
  • Time Capsule
  • Home Server
 

There is no workaround to fix the microwave issue? another band?

 

Well, ist was the second one, that made it impossible to watch a stream on TV.
I assume it wasn‘t as shielded as the other one before.
But since one never knows... cable it is.

 

I'm WiFi and Ethernet.

My main router is in the living room (near the modem) but my office is in the backroom which has no access to Ethernet. So I use a Wireless backhaul sort of setup to bring the network connection to my office then use a switch to attach all my devices (computers, NASes etc) via Ethernet.

My WiFi setup is a Mesh one so there is a dedicated link between the mesh nodes to ensure speeds are good. I do have a powerline adapter that runs to the first floor as well and that gives ~1200mbps speeds to the items up there.

 

The one-room cottage that you built sounds great!

I'm fortunate enough to have a Gigabit connection and my MacBook Pro is always connected using Wi-Fi. It doesn't give me quite the same speeds as when using Ethernet but it's more than enough for work, calls, etc.

My gaming PC, however, is connected via Ethernet. Gotta keep things as stable as possible there. ;)

 

In my home, if it can be wired, it is. I find it super annoying having to change the WiFi password on all my devices every time I change my WiFi password (which is fairly often). Plus, you don't have to worry about signal interference and wired speeds are always faster than wireless.

 

WiFi in my office goes down sometimes and it is on the opposite side of the apartment from where my ISP brought in the line. I am using a Netgear Powerline 2000 adapter so I can get a more consistent signal. It is faster than WiFi and I don't get my video dropping when I am on a WebEx. I also have multiple computers in the office so it is nice it has two ports. I am planning on adding a small hub so I can connect all computers and the laser printer.

 

I've used a powerline adapter to get Ethernet access in my basement office, and it has made a huge difference. Trying to work from home on wifi caused lots of instability, but haven't had any problems at all since hooking up to Ethernet.

 

Wireless (WIFI) ... not a bottleneck for anything I can imagine because the outgoing network connection (WAN/internet) is an order of magnitude slower. In a big office with a ton of workstations I can imagine that you want ethernet wires but in a home setting ...

 

Like everything in life friend, it depends and is somewhat a mix of the two I think for almost anyone except the puritans choosing strange hills to die on. Sure I like my wireless network well enough, it is fast enough for all the peripherals that connect to it.

I also like running smaller wireless networks for... various reasons with Raspberry Pis and the Zotac mini-pc (that is also a docker host and despite having a celeron still has plenty of space to do more with it, especially running alpine) which is a hybrid since the input in each case is the ethernet and thus their clients can actually connect to the outside world.

But the hypervisor, server and desktop all run ethernet only. I moved the workstation to a different room not long ago, eliminating the need for the 50 cord I had taced to the floor board that made vacuuming up the dog hair that sticks to the corners a lot of fun.

Transferring between machines from wireless to lan (like laptop to server) is a little slower than I'd like but is it worth the 200-400 USD to speed it up? Not really. Nor is the 10G upgrade worth it to me either, while files transfer I can do other work or even walk the dog. Were my use case different maybe I'd see the value but as it stands its groovy with me and having fiber optic internet has really made life much better.

In your case, running the cable or not running the cable is dependent on limitations imposed by the present arrangement and if the cable would mitigate them. If you are hampered by the wifi or have spare 15 foot cables, yeah use the wired connection, otherwise don't fix what ain't broke cause then it really might break.

 

I've been working primarily remote since before I moved to where I live now, and I've been wired since shortly after I moved in (a couple plugs needed to be re-terminated from RJ-11 to RJ-45). I have "gigabit" (920-940 down, 40 up) cable internet so wired is the only way I get full download speeds. Workstation on the third floor is connected to a switch on the first, which is fed by an AC86U on the second connected to my ISP's cable modem. I have another monitor set up right next to the router, so when I'm sitting there on my laptop I'll use a USB-C multiport adapter to connect via Ethernet there too.

My place isn't large so WiFi is fine with a single router, but why have "fine" when "full speed" is easily available?

At my parents' computers near the router (AC68U) are wired, but lack of in-home cabling means everything else is wireless. There are coverage issues right now, so I've ordered an AC66U to add in as an AiMesh node. That AP should fix the coverage issues, allowing their ISP, which tends to run 40-70 Mbps down and 10-15 Mbps up over fixed wireless, so be the bottleneck rather than the local network.

 

I live in an apartment and RFI from neighbors has become a major problem, now that everyone is working from home. I bought a tool to crimp Ethernet cables, and a roll of CAT-5 wire - and just laid out a DIY LAN around the house for myself. I used a managed switch I had lying around, but cheap passive switches are just as suitable.

 

When I've encountered connectivity issues since shelter in place, it's always been because of the ISP choking on so many new people at home (I can see the speed drop or dns issues) - additionally, it likely doesn't matter if you're never more than 12 feet from your router, but often the router is the weak link in home wifi, and you can get nearly identical results by spending some $$$ on a non-isp-provided router.

All that said, it should be easy to test, and I would not expect a meaningful difference in your situation.

 

At home the modem is downstairs and I've installed a couple TL-PA4010 adapters upstairs to feed Ethernet among:

  1. two desktop computers in one room and
  2. one Steam Link in the other, so I can play with good latency in the bedroom from the PC in the other room

Basically the PL exists for the Steam Link; I had lots of issues with Wi-Fi:

  • can't get good 5 GHz signal upstairs and the compatible PL adapters are off-budget.
  • 2.4 GHz spectrum is crowded enough to get a laggy signal.

Everything else runs on 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, from the modem downstairs or from one of the two PL adapters upstairs. More than enough I'd say 😛

 

WiFi is fine with the right router, setup and as long as you have little interference with Neighbours routers etc.

Our rule is that if it can be connected via Ethernet and doesn't get moved, then it is ( TVs, Servers, PCs ) otherwise its on WiFi with a good mesh network getting as much coverage as possible.

 

We have wireless. From what I remember when we moved into our home, we opted for the faster/stronger connection and have two routers, one on either side of the house, main level.

Between all of the devices, not being near anyone else's wifi signal, our set up had been fine. The only Ethernet wired devices are probably the Playstations and/or the main smart TV.

 

There are way too many apartments and people they their wifi hardware around me, so I get a much more reliable setup over Ethernet.

Also, I’m pretty sure someone nearby has a leaky microwave oven, because the signal drops every day around lunchtime…

 

My wife and I are using Ethernet in a home office, and as well I connected TV to Ethernet cable too :) Our kids are struggling with Wi-Fi in their rooms, so for many school activities they are kicking us out from the home office to be on the reliable and fast cable.
Before this whole situation started and independently of it I our main router to ASUS RT-86 and turned previous RT-68 into AiMesh point. And we've been struggling with Wi-Fi since then performance and stability wise. I've been trying different configs and settings, but reliability, coverage and ASUS support were not good...

 

I'm wired using an ethernet powerline setup. I also use wireless on my porch when doing administrative tasks such as answering emails and researching. I would prefer wired from my router as the speeds directly from the router are about 4X what I get with my powerline setup but I rent a really old house and upgrades like that our out of reach at this time.

 

Mostly wired, but my case is unusual. I moved to my current house in 2005 and had the opportunity to have a lot of remodeling done before we moved in. So I had CAT6 cable run throughout the house all terminating in a network closet.

However, I have since purchased a hammock for the back yard, and discovered that I don't get a usable wife signal to it, and so I have been upgrading my wifi setup as well.

If there is anything at all to learn from my experience it is that people have different circumstances and needs. I'm not going to advocate for one or the other for you. If you current wifi set up works, stick with it (as long as you are using WPA2 or above.)

 

Pre-COVID-19: in a small flat with everything wired with gigabit internet. 60 down 20 up though they're just installing the gigabit infrastructure there now.

During COVID-19: new modem/router combo from ISP which helps a bit though had to ditch my Archer C7 v2 (DD-WRT) router. Running ethernet (hopefully gigabit) to my Raspberry Pi 4, Hue Hub and BT Whole Home mesh WiFi. The rest of my devices are on WiFi. The mesh helps strengthen the WiFi connection a lot further but do get the occasional blip. Could be to do with my Dell XPS 15’s Killer wireless card though.

 

Definitely wired as long as I can hide it in the walls or otherwise completely out of sight. One reason is latency, and I have plenty of chatty WiFi devices (cameras, thermostat, outlets, mobile devices, etc.). Getting some things setup for working IT from home was definitely interesting and a great excuse to finish up that type of thing. And buy a few new pieces of hardware :)

 

Thanks to Nocnica for starting this thread because there is a lot of great information here.

I have Verizon Fios. I upgraded from the 150 Mbps plan to the 1Gbps plan.
With a 2 year contract, it wound up being $3 cheaper than I was paying before. The router gets roughly ~980 up and down.

I am using Wifi all over the house and am kicking myself for not running Ethernet cable when I first moved in. The main router is upstairs in my son's room with an extender downstairs.
The Wifi connected devices are getting 250 - 300 Mbps, but it seems inconsistent and we sometimes lose signal strength. It seems to work fairly well, but my wife is complaining that she is lagging when playing Destiny.

With three kids home doing schooling and all the devices we have connected I am thinking about upgrading the router to a new Wifi 6 mesh system, but perhaps I just need to adjust the channels.

 

I use Ethernet all the time, except for my phone and ereader when I want to connect them to home internet. But I always work from home and we had cables run from the router in the hall to home office shortly after moving in.

 

I set up a wall dock with a pair of Ethernet connections just for getting the computer wired. It's always faster, more stable and of course, it gives you more bandwidth. It is not necessary on all tasks but it helps on some.
When i need to use my laptop from the living room i use 5GHz WiFi (channel and band tuned for getting as few interference as possible) where the SmartTV is connected too. All smartphones are connected at 2,4GHz WiFi (also channel and band tuned) to separate bandwidths.
Using ISPs router as modem only and a LinkSys WRT1900ACS as main router.

 

I have cable broadband and their wireless and wired router on my ground floor. Next to them I have ethernet TV xbox spare connections then a psend ethernet over my power lines to my study on the top of three floors of my house. The study has ethernet to my main and work laptops, my TV used as a monitor, and a second WiFi router for all house coverage, including the garden.

 

I lived these COVID-19 days in an flat with a remote working wife and 3 students. We were lucky enough that have had every kid's desktops with a comfortable rj-45 port. So, 5 desktops, 4 smartphones and a couple of tablets were running most of the time in the house, with 3 o more videoconferences at the same time. Luckily, quality of the connection was never limited to anybody. Not sure what would happen without cables but everything would have been slower I believe.

 
 
 

Wiffy as I like to call it! I do need to get a long ethernet cord since I am thinking of streaming myself coding.

 

I was going to post a picture of my ethernet switch on my desk but DEV.TO would not allow me to post for some reason... anyway I also have Wifi ....

 

My desktop is wired to the network but everything else I have is wireless. :)

 

Ethernet, with high quality power line extenders to the main router. Wired is best, for stability, and there are enough man made EMFs in the air anyway.

 

Wi-Fi. I'm not a fan… for my laptop it's fine, but my desktop could really use an ethernet cable.

Problem is I'd have to route it through my wall somehow and I'm sooo not into that.

 

I only have a mobile wifi router so there is no option of ethernet for me. But the wifi option works fine. Since it is a mobile wifi router (powered by a sim card and self contained) I can just move the device around if I need better signal in a spot. Or if I want to sit outside or something.

And before we started working from home my little wifi router was happily providing an office of 5 people with internet with no issues. It is a small office space though so there was no issue with where to position the device.

 

Gig cable run through most of the house where we'd have permanent connections. Wifi everywhere else is sufficient. I'll eventually have CAT 6/7 everywhere though. Hardwired will always be better.

 
 

I got the cable out. WiFi is not very good in our extra room because of a fire proof wall..

 

Wi-Fi, since the router is far away from my desk and the speed is still the max I can get with my provider (300mbps), so no logical reason to use ethernet as far as I can tell (or notice).

 
 

I run all WiFi but it is AC speed so pretty solid. I also live in a house where there are no other wireless networks in range so interference is not an issue!

 
 
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