4 Ways to Maximize Your Home Network
There are four main ways to maximize your home network. Everyone knows that a wireless network is the most popular way to access the Internet. It’s convenient, has no messy cables, is fairly secure, and is supported by the majority of modern devices we own. There are even adapters cards available to plug into desktop systems to make them wireless. However, depending on your needs, a wireless network may not be the best way to go. Barring physical limitations like smart phones and tablets without an ethernet port, a wired connection may be a better option. A direct connection from the router to your device is one such method. There are also adapters that can allow the Internet signal to travel across wiring already available in your house, such as MoCa and Powerline. Each of these 4 methods will be evaluated to determine what is the right fit for you.
The best way to set up your home network is by routing ethernet cables throughout your house. This usually involves running wires through the walls to the rooms of your choice, terminating in a classic ethernet port. The other end of this is funneled into a central location, usually an attic or an unused closet and plugged into the router. The advantage of this is that it provides the strongest and fastest signal, with the most reliability. The difficulty of this is that for houses that are not already wired, it may be difficult and time consuming to set up. It takes a bit of finesse and some luck to be able to fish the ethernet lines through the walls, and the house must have a way to route the wires, either underground through the crawlspace or overhead through the attic.
Wireless is a good option for those that don’t like cables or do not have existing wires installed in the house. These networks are also great for devices that don’t have ethernet ports. They offer a lot of flexibility and freedom; users do not have to be tethered to one spot, and can roam around the house without having to worry about how to connect to the internet. The problem with wireless networks is interference. Most networks run at 2.4GHz. This signal can be degraded by almost anything: microwaves, bluetooth, cell phones, and even other wireless networks within range. Any interference causes signal degradation and drastically decreases the download and upload speed of your devices. There are a few ways around this, such as switching channels or getting a larger antenna, but these stopgap measures don’t always work.
MoCa may be an option for those that want the reliability and speed of a wired connection without having to run additional wires. It stands for media over coax, and a basic network consists of two adapters: one adapter at the source router and one adapter at the destination, where your device will connect to. An adapter basically takes an ethernet connection and a coaxial connection, commonly used by TVs, and runs the Internet signal through the coaxial lines. It is a powerful way to leverage the existing wiring in your house. The only disadvantage is that not all rooms have a coaxial terminal since it is commonly used for cable and satellite TV, and these adapters are fairly expensive.
Powerline is similar to MoCa, but instead of putting the signal onto coax, it utilizes your power lines. It seems almost magical, as information basically travels over your electrical grid. The downside to this is that depending on how the house is wired, the signal may heavily deteriorate by the time it reaches the destination, reducing overall speeds. Interference may come from a variety of sources, the most common being appliances that consume a lot of power and cause a spike in the grid. There is also a physical limitation: outlets that are on different circuits have very low connection speeds, if at all. If none of those are a factor, this is a very good option because you will essentially have an ethernet port wherever you have a power outlet, making this network type very flexible.
Every person has different needs, and there may not be a single solution that works in all situations. You may find that after evaluating all of the pros and cons, there is not a single solution that fulfills your every requirement. Don’t be afraid to mix and match the different options. People often find that having some sort of wired technology in conjunction with a wireless setup covers 99% of their use cases. Check your requirements, study these options, and have fun building your own home network.