Benefits of Wireless Home Computer (Wi-Fi) Networking

How a wireless home network can help you work and have fun

A mother and son installing a wireless router.
  Maskot / Getty Images

A wireless home network, also known as Wi-Fi, lets you share files, an internet connection, computer peripherals, and other devices far more conveniently than wired networks. Here are just some of the useful features a home Wi-Fi network offers.

Network File Sharing

Network file sharing among computers gives you more flexibility than using portable disk drives. Not only can you share photos, music files, and documents, but you also can save copies of all of your important data on a different computer. Backups are one of the most critical yet overlooked capabilities of home networking.

Internet Connection Sharing

Using a home network, multiple household members on various devices, including smartphones and tablets, can access the internet simultaneously without having to pay an ISP for multiple accounts. The internet connection can slow down slightly when too many devices share it, but today's broadband internet services generally can handle a high load with little trouble.

Printer and Other Peripheral Sharing

Once a home network is in place, setting up all of the computers to share a single printer is fairly easy. You won't need to run from one system or another just to print a file. Other electronics such as speakers, scanners, and webcams can be shared across networks, too.

Photo of HP OfficeJet Pro 8710 with control panel active -- and WiFi enabled (upper right area of control panel)

Online Gaming

Many popular home computer games support LAN (local area network) and online (internet-connected) modes so friends and family can play together.

Telephone and Home Entertainment

Voice over IP (VoIP) services allow you to make and receive phone calls using your internet connection and your cell phone or landline, saving you money.

Home entertainment products such as digital video recorders (DVRs) and video game consoles also support Wi-Fi. Integrating these products into your network enables online internet gaming, video sharing, and other advanced features.

Wi-Fi also lets you use streaming media devices such as Roku, Amazon Firestick, and Chromecast anywhere in your home. With a subscription to a live video streaming service such as Sling TV, DIRECTVNOW, Hulu + Live TV, and others, you can even cut your cable TV connection. Likewise, services such as Netflix and Hulu give you access to a huge variety of movies and other prerecorded programming.

hulu on demand options
Hulu With Live TV also provides access to Hulu's massive on-demand library.

Lastly but importantly, connecting your phone to the internet via Wi-Fi means that you won't use any of your plan's data allowance while you're home.

Smart Devices

Among the newest entry in the world of Wi-Fi are an enormous range of "smart" devices such as thermostats, light bulbs, security systems, appliances, smoke detectors, TVs, and much more. These all use your home's Wi-Fi network to enable control from connected smartphones, tablets, computers, speakers, and home assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat
Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat RTH9580WF. amazon.com

Still More Benefits of Wi-Fi

Although you can realize most of the same benefits with a wired home network, you should consider building a wireless home (Wi-Fi) network instead, for the following reasons:

  1. Device mobility: Wi-Fi frees notebook computers, tablets, and other portable devices from network cables. You can use your device on the couch, on your porch, or wherever in the house is most convenient at the moment.
  2. Freedom from unsightly wires: No one has the time or inclination to fuss with outdated, inconvenient cables. You'll save substantial time and energy avoiding the cabling mess and going wireless.
  3. Modern convention: Wi-Fi has become the default networking technology for homes and businesses, and most products that can be networked are optimized for wireless connections.