I have shared a bit of wisdom with many of you when we’ve talked about setting up 802.11 wireless networks:

People who depend on wireless networks call me about connection problems.

People with wires don’t.

Wireless technology is just swell. Millions of people use it every day.

But if you’re making a decision about how to set up your home or office network, think long and hard about hiring someone to run network cables between the locations where desktop computers are located. You’ll plug in the computer and bang! everything will work without a hitch.

wirelessnotconnected You can go out and get the best $250 wireless router on the shelf at Best Buy and yet somehow the signal never quite extends to where you need it. The connection will drop when someone walks between the router and the wireless computer. At some point the computer will see the network but it won’t be able to connect to it. Or your computer will report that it’s connected but no Internet traffic will flow. You’ll find yourself balancing the wireless adapter up on the top shelf of the desk, hoping that the elevation will improve things. You’ll restart the computer over and over. At some point it will start to work again . . . until the next time.

Now you’ve got to know that is absolutely an exaggeration. Many people use wireless networks without a wobble for months and years on end. There are places where it is essential technology and it performs flawlessly. If a wireless network makes sense for you, set it up with my blessings (and my help, if you like).

Just keep in mind that it’s not troublefree techology, despite what the commercials say. You may wind up logging into the router’s control panel to check the status of the connection, or to reset the SSID, or to change the security key. It’s not hard – lots of people do it all the time. But if you’re not comfortable doing it, you may wind up paying me to do it and wishing you had spent a few hundred dollars on wiring the building.

I talked to three people last week who will be crawling under their houses or paying an installer to send cables through the walls after getting fed up with wireless problems. Think ahead and pay a telephone or network installer to run cables if your computers will only be used in a few locations!

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