If you want the best performance out of your home network, and the best possible streaming for your TV shows, movies, and games, then you really should bypass your wireless access and connect everything with ethernet cables. But why, WHY would you use those yucky wires, when WiFi is just so easy and cool?
Because, even in the best of circumstances, there’s just more that can go wrong with wireless connections. Interference, signal drops and even the walls themselves will try to get in the way of your wireless connections, whereas a wired connection works consistently every time. This is particularly important if your internet connection isn’t that great, or you’re trying to make the most of an inexpensive bandwidth plan. If you can’t get a better internet connection, get everything you can out of the one you have!
In a previous blog entry, I gave some tips on how to set up your router to keep it out of the way. Now I’ll give you some tips on how to connect to it via ethernet. Actually, compared to Wireless, setting up a wired connection is very easy… you just snap a Cat-6 cable into your device, and then into your router, and you’re done. The only real problem is in making sure you don’t get ripped off buying the cables.
Don’t buy ethernet cables at places like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, or Target. These things are sold at huge markups there.
Instead, do your shopping online. What you need depends on how far your device is from your router, and remember to err on the side of length, so you can snake the cable around things if need be. 5-Foot cables are good for connecting devices nearby, 6-inch cables are good for connecting devices sitting on top of each other (great for connecting a modem to a router, for example), and 25-foot cables will do the job if the device is on the other end of the room.
Suppose you’re sold on the need to hard-wire everything, but still don’t want to deal with the cable mess, or your router is in a completely different part of the house? Well, then what you’d want to do is actually install an ethernet wall jack. Run the cable from Point A to Point B, fish it through the wall (or ceiling or floor) and slap a plate on it. It looks really pretty when it’s all done, and then you just plug your device into the wall the way you used to connect a landline phone.
Things You’ll Need:
- Cat-6 cable by the bundle or box. (be sure to get pure copper, not copper-clad aluminum)
- Wall plates
- Network jacks (RJ-45 connector)
- Razor blade
…notice that you can get everything on that list for well under $200. If it’s a small project, you can probably score all this for under $150. This does NOT have to be an expensive project!
Really, all you’re doing here is cutting open the cable, pushing the strands into the appropriately-colored pins, and then trimming them with the razor blade. If you need some extra guidance, try this tutorial, or for the visual people, try the following video: