The Advantages & Disadvantages of Wi-Fi
By Milton Kazmeyer
Adding a Wi-Fi network to your business is not a decision you should make lightly. While a wireless network offers some significant advantages over traditional cabled networking, and may offer employees more freedom to work on their own terms, opening your servers up to wireless connections can also represent a major security risk. To prevent potentially costly problems, consider your options carefully before taking advantage of Wi-Fi.
One of the biggest advantages of creating a wireless network for your business is the freedom it grants your employees. Wireless devices such as tablets can connect to company computers anywhere in your facility, allowing employees to work without being tied down to their desktop machines. The ability to share data and create their own workgroups effortlessly may inspire your employees to new levels of productivity.
Opting for a wireless network can also save your business the frustration of constantly running network cables throughout your facility. In a wired network, a single disconnected plug or damaged cable may mean hours of frustrating troubleshooting trying to pinpoint the problem. Setting up wireless routers and repeaters to cover your company allows you to add new machines simply by bringing them into range and entering the relevant network data. Wireless-friendly peripherals like printers and scanners make sharing hardware easy among even large groups of employees.
The biggest downside of installing a Wi-Fi network for your business is the potential security threat it represents. While your wireless routers and access points grant your employees a direct connection to the company mainframe, they can also do the same for an outsider with the right tools. Make sure you choose an adequate security protocol, such as WPA or WPA-2, when setting up your network. Using an outdated security system like WEP can make it extremely easy for an outsider to gain access to your systems, eavesdrop on communications, and steal vital company and financial information.
Setting up a wireless network, especially in a large facility, is not a cheap exercise. Ensuring enough coverage to keep employees connected in vital areas may require multiple routers and access points, especially if your business uses heavy machinery that may cause radio frequency interference. While current laptops and portable devices are wireless-ready, upgrading older hardware to meet modern wireless security standards may mean purchasing new wireless cards and other add-ons. Another unfortunate side effect of a mobile office is an increased propensity for dropped devices and damage, so ensuring your budget can handle the periodic replacement of hardware is another important consideration.
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Milton Kazmeyer has worked in the insurance, financial and manufacturing fields and also served as a federal contractor. He began his writing career in 2007 and now works full-time as a writer and transcriptionist. His primary fields of expertise include computers, astronomy, alternative energy sources and the environment.