Cables are a nuisance. They can trip you up if they are trailing on the floor. They are a pain if you need to send them from room to room – all that drilling holes, putting into conduit takes time and effort. No matter how carefully you organise cables they always seem to have the ability to arrange themselves into a tangled rats nest under your desk.
If you want to connect your computer to wifi without a cable there is a wireless alternative! First, you need a wireless router and some type of wifi adapter for your computer. These can be either built-in, PCI, or USB.
Let’s take a brief look at each.
What’s wrong with cables anyway?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could connect everything without cables? No more scrabbling under desks to put the right cable into the right socket. No more spaghetti to catch at your feet.
Some people think there is such a thing as a “Cable Gnome” that comes out at night when you are asleep and tangles your cables, but these people are clearly mad! It is actually the work of the Ethernet Elves.
These are named after the most common cable used to link computers, routers and networks – the ethernet cable.
What is an ethernet cable?
An ethernet cable is a type of network cable used to supply the internet by connecting your devices to your internet provider network. In other words, it carries the data from your router or network to your laptops, desktop computer etc, and from your computer to your network switch and router.
It is standardised in terms of connectors and virtually all computers have a port or ports to take an ethernet cable. You will even find them in the latest versions of “Smart” TVs as they also need to connect to the internet.
You can recognise an ethernet cable by the distinctive connector on each end, which has a small lever to lock it securely in the socket. This type of network cable is often referred to as a RJ45 cable.
Ethernet cables come in many sizes and specifications. The characteristics of the different types are a subject of interest only to the experts (like Lee Harvey Computing), but in essence they range from Category 5 through categories 5e, 6, 7, and 8.
In essence Category 5 is the most basic while Category 8 is high end – carrying data at lightning speed, having extra resistance to electrical interference etc – the bees knees of ethernet cables if you like (with a matching price tag)!.
So, given the disadvantages above, why use cables at all?
Using an ethernet cable has its benefits which include:
- A cable offers a more stable connection. If you are streaming movies or playing video games using your gaming consoles online, a stable connection is really important. In the office, sending and receiving large files is better at high speed. Time is money and waiting 10 minutes for a file to arrive is time better spent.
- If you are not moving your device from room to room a cable will give you the best speed. Obviously, if you wander round with your laptop this won’t be possible unless you have a cable running to every room.
- Wireless signals tend to weaken when going through walls (especially granite walls) and they can often be affected by microwaves, satellite TV signals, baby monitors, your security doorbell – an almost infinite list of things. An ethernet cable is, unless it is one of the old versions, no longer sold as Category 5 type as it has been superseded by the 5e.But don’t worry you don’t need to remember these types – that’s why you employ a professional like Lee Harvey. Newer cables are shielded from interference so these problems don’t arise.
- A cabled network provides data security, unlike a Wi-Fi connection. Data carried over wifi can be intercepted – even from a fair distance away.
Alternatives to an ethernet cable?
OK – so you really don’t want to keep tripping over cables, in fact you want to see the Ethernet Elves unemployed.
A lot of your work is done on your laptop so having a cabled connection in every room is a non-starter. So how are you going to connect your computer to wifi without a cable?
The answer is that you need to find some way of getting the signal from your router (where the internet comes in) to, for example, your desktop pc.
This is done wirelessly (by wifi) but you are going to need a Wireless Network Adapter to make that happen.
What is a wireless network adapter?
A wireless network adapter is a computer hardware component designed to enable computers to communicate wirelessly over a network. Put simply, it is the “receiver” that enables your computer to connect to wifi.
Wireless network adapters pick up signals that a wireless router broadcasts. This broadcasts radio waves through an area with a range between 75 and 150 feet.
A wireless network adapter within range picks up the signal and connects that desktop pc or laptop or any other wifi device in range to the router.
Have I got a wireless adapter in my device?
The answer is “you almost certainly have a wireless adapter in your device’ especially if you have a laptop, but a lot of pc’s do not. If you haven’t got one built in, however, there is no need to despair.
You can, for very little money, buy a USB wifi adapter that simply plugs into any USB port to give you a wireless connection or install a new wireless card as an easy upgrade.
Most laptops purchased in the last 10 years don’t need a wired connection and it would be extremely unusual to find one without a wifi adapter. Virtually all laptops sold nowadays are wifi devices
So how do I know if my desktop computer or laptop has WIFI?
There so many types of desktop pcs – Windows 10 and 11, Windows 7 (does anyone still use Windows 7?), so there is no one answer to this question.
The multi-purpose answer would be to go into Control Panel and then Settings and select “Network and Internet”. Somewhere there will be a “WiFi On” button.
If it is greyed out the chances are you don’t have a network adapter.
At Lee Harvey Computing we can talk you through the process specific to your particular computer set up.
If you don’t have a wifi network adapter, you will either have to rely on a cable ethernet connection or purchase a USB adapter to connect to the wireless router or we can install a new wireless card as an easy upgrade for your internet connection.
Should I consider upgrading to a computer with WIFI access?
If you are happy with your computer there really is no need to replace the whole machine just to gain wireless access to the internet. You can get connected to wireless networks just by buying a USB wifi adapter for a fraction of the cost of a new computer.
If your desktop pc is next to, or very near to, the router you have the fastest, securest and most stable way to have your pc connect to the internet by using an ethernet cable – although you might need a wifi connection for your other devices in other rooms.
Ethernet cables tend to lose efficiency over longer runs, but the few feet connecting the router to your desktop pc will not have this problem.
Nowadays everyone needs to connect their computer to either an office network and internet – or both – and in some cases a cable connection is best.
But for flexibility and convenience the ability to connect to a wifi network is invaluable. Why not let Lee Harvey Computing show you just how easy it is to set up a wifi network – analyse where you might need to install an adapter or two and make you and your business more efficient?