So, if you haven’t totally wireless-ized your computer setup yet, I’ve got a great excuse for you not to do it. Or at least to leave some wires hanging around for special occasions.

Cheap gigabit switches and NICs, that’s what.Right now you can buy gigabit NICs for $10 after all the rebates, and a 5-port switch is about $20. If they’re not on sale this week, wait until next week or the week after. At the very least, there will be sales around Halloween, Thanksgiving, and throughout December.

The nice thing about gig is that the speed of networked drives approaches that of local drives. Thanks to overhead and all that, it might not quite be native speed, but it will be very close. Copying files and making backups becomes much faster and easier. In a multi-computer house, instead of fighting over which computer gets the new half-terrabyte drive, any computer with a wired connection can share it.

So if I were building a network from scratch for someone, I’d go with a combination route. Start off with an 802.11g wireless router for the remote reaches of the house (possibly even one of the 108-megabit "Super-G" routers for faster local data transfers), then put a gigabit switch in the office or wherever multiple computers reside so they could share data at blinding speed. I wouldn’t bother wiring the entire house, but if there are two adjacent rooms each with computers, I might wire both of them so they could enjoy a high-speed connection.

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