In my office, I have a total of 6 computers connected via LAN using Ethernet cables and is also connected to the internet with a VDSL router modem using switches.

I am having frequent disconnection problems with the Ethernet cables, so have decided to completely replace the Ethernet cables and the switches with the PCIe WiFi cards on each desktop computer.

What I want to know is, Can I be able to connect to the LAN as before using the PCIe card or it will only add internet connectivity to the computers? I want to see my network computers and work with the files on them when connected to the same WiFi access point.

We have a Huawei HG630a modem and it can handle upto 10 WiFi devices.

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    Lot of parameters: What is the current configuration? Because lot of hardware on Wifi will slow down everything. Is should better to repair/replace network switch/router/cables in the office instead port everything to wifi (also reliable, quick hardwares are expensives). But to answer your question, it can replace, but may will slower (depend on your office's current equipment) – uDev Feb 26 '18 at 15:47
  • What you are suggesting is my first preference actually. But the Ethernet cables have become so old (6-8 yrs may be) and each cable is of 10 meters in length which runs over the walls like creepers which makes the atmosphere look cluttered. So I just want to know whether a PCIe WiFi card can actual do the work of connecting the computers via LAN. – user726761 Feb 26 '18 at 15:54
  • For the system configuration, all the hardware are purchased recently. Each system has a I5 7th gen processor, DDR4 8GB ram, 250GB SSD like so. – user726761 Feb 26 '18 at 15:58
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    Cable "age", provided it is not damaged, is not an issue. Is doing this the right way really not acceptable? The right way here would be to have a reputable cabling contractor (electrician, low voltage, or IT contractor) come in and either repair the cables, which most likely just need proper termination, or properly re-wire it, and install a suitable switch. Would it cost more than a half-dozen WiFi adapters, yes, but it is superior in every way, speed, security, and it is not nearly as susceptible to interference or outside factors. – acejavelin Feb 26 '18 at 17:27
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    I have found cabled LAN is faster, more reliable AND secure than WiFi. For a business enviroment, cables are the way to go where downtime cost more than the cost of a proper system. Its just economics. Proper wifi will cost a siginificant amount too. You don't want the cheapest consumer equipment for that, and cables will still be better in the end. – Damon Feb 26 '18 at 17:37

Yes, Wi-Fi does not distinguish between "LAN" and "Internet" in any way. Just like Ethernet, it provides a simple layer-2 connection to whatever network you need – . (In fact most "wireless routers" just bridge their Wi-Fi to Ethernet.)

Note that Wi-Fi is a shared medium – like old-style Ethernet hubs. (Not like modern Ethernet switches!) This makes performance problems much more frequent. Some problems that come to mind are:

  • Multicast (and broadcast) is a bit problematic with Wi-Fi, as it uses a lot more air-time than regular traffic (possibly up to 15x more per byte).

    For this reason, some wireless APs actually block all multicast & broadcast, thereby preventing the use of "network discovery" features in Windows. (Note: This does not prevent direct LAN communications – only automatic discovery.)

    Make sure your AP doesn't block multicast. If it supports a feature called "multicast enhancement" aka "multicast-to-unicast conversion", you should enable that (IMHO). The defaults vary between AP manufacturers.

  • Traffic between LAN devices: Wi-Fi is half-duplex and all traffic (even between nearby devices) goes through the AP, so inter-PC transfers will be at least 2 times slower than via Ethernet.

    Many APs even have a "Client isolation" setting which blocks all traffic between LAN devices – make sure that's not enabled!

You can buy additional access points to deal with the 10-device limit, as well as to extend the coverage area. (Best to use dedicated APs, but even many "wireless routers" can be configured for bridge mode.)

  • What do you mean by "cannot see"? Do you mean Windows' computer discovery doesn't work, or do you mean absolutely no form of traffic (e.g. ping) cannot go through? – user1686 Feb 26 '18 at 16:07
  • Probably the windows firewall not configured to allow sharing files and such, you should check your network configuration (properties) of your wifi connection, and also see if you have firewall enabled and blocking stuff. – arana Feb 26 '18 at 16:07
  • If Wi-Fi does not distinguish between "LAN" and "Internet", then why cant I see my network computers? This is the case - I just tried disconnecting one of my computer from the LAN by unplugging the Ethernet cable and connected my mobile phone with WiFi on via a USB cable and turned on USB Thethering. I just get the internet but cannot access my network shared drives. Why is this happening even though connected to the same network? – user726761 Feb 26 '18 at 16:11
  • Windows network discovery is turned on and all the check boxes are checked to allow file sharing without any password protection. Even after that The system show my network computers. – user726761 Feb 26 '18 at 16:12
  • @VishnuRaghav: But you actually connected to a different network. Most mobile phones act as routers (not bridges) and create a separate subnet for tethered devices. (For example, Android usually creates a subnet.) Although it should be possible to reach "out" from the tether subnet to the main one (if you know the target IP address), discovery certainly won't work across different subnets. – user1686 Feb 26 '18 at 16:14

Technically you can replace Ethernet with WIFI - but it is a very bad idea if your business systems rely on Internet - even moreso with your choice of equipment.

From a computers point if view, once the WIFI is working it works much the same way as an Ethernet connection (In fact, in the vast, vast majority of cases where you have both Ethernet and WIFI on a device it will prefer Ethernet when available and fall back to WIFI seemlessly, but won't use wifi to supplement Ethernet)

The problem is that you have very little control of the environment with WIFI, and, especially in a busy area, you will get decreases in speed depending on what anyone else - not only your business - is doing. Ethernet does not suffer from this problem. (I've seen businesses not able to work because of WIFI congestion of others - using better equipment then you have)

Also, the more people you have using the connection, the worse it will run (6 people using it at the same time will slow things down by more then 6 times)

This is made worse because your router does not support the 5gig band / the current standard (802.11ac) which means it icant take advantage of the techniques to reduce interference and take advantage of the more appropriate higher frequencies. - In fact your bottleneck is no longer your ISP connection, it will be your WIFI.

As others have pointed out, WIFI is not secure, and it is very possible for someone to break in to your network without being detectable.

You really should fix your Ethernet infrastructure instead of relying on WIFI.

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