Pin Me

Combine a Wired and Wireless Network Together

written by: •edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 6/6/2010

The idea of combining both a wired and wireless network together may seem daunting, but it's actually quite simple. You can use both to expand the coverage of a wireless network, for example.

  • slide 1 of 5

    Networking

    Did you know that you can combine a wired and wireless network together? As far as the computers are concerned, they would hardly notice the difference, as it is mainly just hardware that separates them. Think of a wireless network connection as a long invisible cable that connects your computer back to the switch or hub, then it’s much easier to understand how it all works. In this article, I will break down your options for running both a wired and wireless network together.

  • slide 2 of 5

    Wired vs. Wireless

    A wired network is one that is connected via cabling of some type, usually CAT5 Ethernet, but there may also be fiber optic cable involved, too. Basically, it means the computers are physically connected using a router or switch of some kind. As of this writing, a wired network is typically faster than a wireless one because the physical connection makes for a better transmission medium for your data.

    A wireless network is one in which the computers connect via a wireless networking transmitter that has a main feed going into it. Just remember that a wireless router needs a source input before it can transmit anything. In a typical home scenario, you may have a cable or DSL modem connected directly into a wireless router in order to broadcast the signal around your home. You would then use a PC to connect via the router to the network. It would work very much like connecting the cable or DSL modem directly to your PC.

  • slide 3 of 5

    Wired and Wireless Networking Options

    Most wireless routers these days have several ports on the back of them, meaning that in addition to the wireless connections it offers, you can physically connect devices using Ethernet cable. You might want to set your cable or DSL modem next to your main desktop computer and then connect the PC to the wireless router using Ethernet cable. In fact, I’d recommend doing that for the best connection quality. After that, you can still connect laptops or other wireless-enabled devices to the router.

    What if one wireless router isn’t enough? If you are setting up a wireless network in a large area where one wireless router doesn’t offer enough coverage, you could actually run an Ethernet cable from the first wireless router to a second one and double the coverage. Just plug the cable into a spare port from the first router and the other end into the main input port (usually #1) on the second router. Give both routers different names and then the user can pick which one has the best signal strength before they connect.

  • slide 4 of 5

    Security and Speed

    The main thing you need to be careful of with wireless adapters is security. With a wired network, you can see if someone is physically connected to your switch or hub. However, you never know who might be in range of picking up your wireless network. Be sure to secure your wireless network with a strong password, otherwise you might be giving away free Internet to your neighbors. Many companies forbid the use of wireless adapters on their network because of security issues with them, so keep that in mind.

    When connecting multiple devices to the router, whether wired or wirelessly, remember that you still have a max level of bandwidth available. More connections at once means more sharing of the same bandwidth, so transfer speed may decrease. For the best possible connection, just remember that wired beats wireless every time.