When setting up your network, you have many choices about how to connect all your devices. While Ethernet is a popular and reliable choice, the fact is that laying an Ethernet network throughout your home or office can be a bit of a pain.
Luckily, for anyone wanting to set up a network, there are other options available. The three we will look at today are wifi, MoCA and powerline adapters. None of these types of network require much ground work to set them up, and each of them has their own benefits and plus points.
Basics of Powerline Adapters
Powerline adapters are adapters that you plug into the mains electricity (power outlets) of your home. Each adapter should plug in close to where the network device is located. They then use these existing wires to deliver a consistent network throughout your house.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of powerline adapters.
Using Powerline: Advantages
Easy to set up
To set up a powerline network, all you have to do is plug an adapter into a socket near to your router and connect to it via an Ethernet cable. Once you have done this, you just need to plug in another adapter near to the device you want to connect your network to and then connect it to your device via Ethernet cable.
Should Work In Every Home
One of the biggest plus points of powerline adapters is that they can be used in pretty much any home. As they use your electrical wiring, assuming you have electricity you should be able to use these adapters!
Reliable Connections Over A Long Distance
If you have a large home it can be tough to get a consistent wireless connection throughout your house. However, powerline adapters solve this problem as the signal is sent along wires. Assuming the wiring in your house is good, Powerline networks are also more consistent and result in less dropped packages of data than wifi.
As Powerline Adapters use a wired network within your home, it is an incredibly secure way of networking. There is no way of accessing your network unless you have a physical connection to the power lines as the data packets stay within the confines of the home.
The only time you should worry about security is if you are in a shared dorm. In this case, the network the network could pass between rooms and you should therefore make sure your data is encrypted.
We recommend securing your data with any powerline option, regardless of where you are located. Normally, this is done by pressing 'sync' or 'encryption' buttons on the? powerline adapters.
Using Powerline: Disadvantages
Adapter Needed Near To Every Connection
If you want to set up a powerline network, one major disadvantage is that you will need an adapter near to every device you want to connect to your network (or at least in every room). If you have several devices in different rooms, this could start to get quite expensive.
You can buy powerline wifi adapters. This is a cool way of extending wireless to the outer reaches of your home.
Many Devices Nowadays Don’t Have An Ethernet Port
Another potential problem is that while you need to connect a device with an Ethernet cable to your network, you should have no problems, many devices nowadays don’t have an Ethernet port. For example, smartphones, tablets, ebook readers, etc. all can connect to the internet but don’t have Ethernet ports.
As such to use any of these devices you will need to set up a wireless network. Having said that, these days some powerline adapters do have built-in wifi to get around this problem. Check out the powerline tip above.
Reliability Will Depend On Your Wiring
While powerline adapters are generally a great way to get a fast and consistent network set up in your home, it does depend on the wiring in your home. If your house is old or has poor wiring, it could affect your networking experience.
It should also be noted that Powerline adapters have to be plugged directly into the power outlet. They won't work when plugged into an extension cable.
Electrical Appliances Can Interfere With Performance
Of course, your mains electricity network isn't only used for your network. Electricity also passes through these wires. While this will generally not have much of an affect on your network, if you have any appliances that use a lot of electricity set up near to your adapters you may have a less than optimal experience.
Power thirsty appliances include power drills, floor sanders and planers. They can have a detrimental affect on a powerline network. Luckily they aren't used too often!
Basics of MoCA
MoCA stands for Multimedia over Coax Alliance. Like powerline, it is a type of networking that uses existing wiring in your house to create a data network. MoCA specifically uses the coax network that is most often used by cable companies to deliver cable TV to your home.
Using MoCA: Advantages
Easy To Install
Like powerline adapters, MoCA adapters are simple to install. All you have to do is plug two adapters into your MoCA network, one within reach of your router and one within reach of the device you want to connect to your network. A simple Ethernet cable will then connect you device/router to the adapter.
Less Interference Than Powerline
While powerline adapters can be affected by the power running through the wires, especially if you are using a lot of electricity, there is generally less interference on MoCA networks. If you don’t have a cable subscription, you will essentially have a wired network that is used specifically for your data network.
Using MoCA Adapters: Disadvantages
Not All Houses Have A Coax Network
While wifi and Powerline cables will work in pretty much any house, MoCA adapters will only work in houses with a coax network. While coax networks are certainly common enough for MoCA to be mentioned in this review, that isn’t much use if your home doesn’t have the required networking.
Basics of Wi-Fi
Wifi is the most common of the three networking solutions found on this list. It is used everywhere from home and offices to coffee shops and libraries. It is a very convenient networking solution although, of course, it doesn’t come without its own set of problems.
Using Wifi: Advantages
One of wifi’s biggest advantages is certainly the fact that it can be used anywhere in the home. Once a device is connected, it can be easily moved around from room to room without the worry of having to drag around a cable.
Can Connect To A Wide Variety Of Devices
Most devices that come with network compatibility these days come with a wifi connection. Even those that don’t can generally be given wifi functionality through a cheap wifi adapter. This means that anything from smartphones to smart TVs can be connected via wifi.
Using Wifi: Disadvantages
One of the biggest weaknesses of wifi when compared to the other types of network, is that wifi is generally less secure. The fact that you can connect to a wifi network from anywhere within the signal’s range is precisely the reason that it isn’t quite as secure as the other types of network.
Basically, anyone who can access your network could theoretically hack into your network if they have the know how. While there are things you can do to improve your network's security, such as using a modern security protocol (for example, WPA2) and choosing a strong password, a wireless network will never be quite as secure as a wired one.
Susceptible To Interference
Another downside to wifi is that it is susceptible to interference from many things. Whether it is the wireless signal from your neighbor’s wifi, other appliances that use the same frequency (microwaves, cordless phones etc) or simply the wall between your rooms, there are a number of different things that can cause your connection to be weak and unstable.
This can especially be a problem if you use your network for things such as streaming movies or gaming, as these uses require a strong and consistent connection.
Problems With Range
Another problem with wifi is that the signal range isn't quite as broad as the signal range you can get with a wired connection. As well as this, even if you can pick up a signal, if you are far away you may find that the connection isn't really good enough to use.
Luckily, there are things you can do to improve a wifi networks range such as add a wireless range extender, an access point, or simply have a wired connection in the places in your home that struggle with a wifi signal.
Powerline Adapters vs MoCA vs Wireless
As you will have seen throughout this article each networking solution comes with its own set of distinct plus points and problems. Essentially the best option for you will be specific to your house.
For example, if your electrical wiring is very old but you have a coax network, it would probably be best to use MoCA for your network.
On the other hand, if you need a wired connection in all your rooms, powerline could be the best solution due to the fact that there are likely to be more power outlets than coax outlets in your home.
Perhaps the best solution would be to use a combination of both wireless and one of either Powerline or MoCA. That way you could set up devices that require a consistent connection, or devices that can’t get a strong wireless signal with a wired connection, and use a wireless network for everything else.
This way you would get the benefits of both a wired connection and a wireless one!
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