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5 Disadvantages to Wireless

Although there's a lot to be said for wireless technology ?it's inexpensive, easy to use, and allows extreme portability ?it, like any new tech, has some downsides, too. Depending on the network situation you're in, you may find that it's not appropriate. Wireless networks have some basic limitations that you might now be aware of:

1. Security is where many wireless networks lose out. Transceivers for wireless networks are designed to use radio frequencies to provide uninterrupted service for various users throughout a building. Antennas on many computers' wireless adapters are relatively low quality, meaning that the transceiver must use a relatively high powered signal. Someone willing to purchase an antenna with good reception can easily intercept your data at a bigger distance than most of the computers in the building. A wireless network's radius is wider than it first appears. There are even users who dedicate themselves to accessing other people's wireless network. Versus a wired network, wireless technology offers much less security, since a hacker would have to tap into the actual cables. Many wireless networks utilize encryption technologies, but not all of these are effective.

2. Another place where wireless users might experience problems is range of signal. A common home network, using ordinary equipment, only sends a signal a few tens of yards. This works for most homes, but can be problematic in a large structure, or in a building where the signal is likely to be stopped by heavy walls. Additional range must be added using repeaters or more access points. This can increase your network costs significantly. However, wireless manufacturers are in the process of developing technology that will improve the range of transmission.

3. Sometimes, wireless networks are unreliable. Because they're based on radio transmissions, signals from wireless networking can suffer from interference or other problems beyond the administrator's control. This means that wireless networks can suffer unexpected downtime or interruption of signal. Important networking components, like servers, are almost never connected via wireless network.

4. Wireless networks can be slower. Compared to wired networking, wireless LANs can be much slower (1-108 Mbit/s versus 100 Mbit/s to multiple Gbit/s). The methods used to send data over a wireless network can also cause performance problems. However, many users don't have large problems with this, since their Internet connections are slower still (ADSL is usually 8 Mbit/s or less). If you wish to set up a wireless network, but need very high transfer speeds, you may need to forgo the wireless connectivity. This is mostly a problem in specialized environments.

5. Last, but not least, compatibility can be a problem. Because wireless is still a fairly new technology, components which aren't made by the same company may not work together. It may also require a lot of tinkering to get them to communicate properly. This can be easily avoided when setting up a new network, simply by buying only components from the same manufacturer. However, if assembling a network from pre-existing components, there could be problems.

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