When you see "Free Wireless" I would really like you to think for a minute before you jump online checking email and checking your bank account.
First of all, what encryption level does your free Wireless offer?
I'm not going to say which is better but I will say what not to do. Do not use any free unsecured wireless system.
Before you jump up and down telling me all about Wingate Hotels, Country Inn Hotels free great highspeed let me offer you some information that you might not have.
First, anything between your computer and the access point if not encrypted or secure is sent over a RF channel that can be intercepted by anyone.
Second, the AP can be monitored by protocol analyzers which show what you are doing in plain text.
Let's say you visit a website with a login, the analyzers will show all the code, http source and include your send information in plan text unless HTTPS is used.
I what do in cases like this is really one of the better practices and I'm not just saying that because I do it. Heck, I use my own SSL VPN when on secured networks because I don't trust the certificate level of the other network admin. Did they really get certified without actually setting up a physical network?
I use a VPN connection over wireless for everything. Your hotel most likely is only going to have 1.5Mb to 756Kbps connections anyway so your home cable VPN network will still be the same speed. VPN traffic is slower due to the checks and balances that happen over and over.
So what do I suggest everyone do when using a hotel's free wireless?
Use a SSL VPN or any type of secured VPN to a known secured network like your home.
The benefits of setting up your own Private VPN are much better than anything you have used in the past. Let's say you want to use remote desktop services, instead of connecting via one of those software companies that charge you monthly you can use a VPN like a Netgrear setup to NO IP services that allow you to connect to your local network. Once you have your secured channel you can then connect to devices on your local network. Even via your remote desktop.
So do yourself a favor and VPN to a secured network.
I'll be offering friends and family network setups on some of my shared server sites. They are great for friends to share stuff and with all the MSDN software having an enterprise network at home for just friends and family is really fun.
Is it hard to setup? Yes, is it hard to keep running? No, just make sure you setup everything correctly the first time. IT today is so easy soon we will not need IT professions for anything more than Monitoring network security and configuration.
Here's your plan, get yourself a VPN that is hardware not software.
Connect to your VPN at login or as soon as you connect to the internet.
Use your VPN connection at home or the office as your base location.
If you have any questions feel out a free service ticket with your question.